Monday, July 13, 2015

13-Jul-15: Is the Mahmoud Abbas crony circle disintegrating?

Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Abed Rabbo, Ramallah, 2010 [Image Source]
Not so tight these days
It would be greatly overstating things to say we admire the Palestinian Arab leadership.

About Hamas, any extra words are superfluous.

The kleptocratic PA/PLO/Fatah insiders who have gotten away for years with the pretence of being a democratically-elected regime in search of peace with their Israeli neighbours are in reality a cosy bunch of past-their-use-by-date clique comrades. Not a single one of whom has asked (or has even been required to ask) Palestinian Arab voters for their electoral support for almost a full decade.

Their most recent parliamentary election took place on January 25, 2006. The last PA presidential election took place more than a year before that, on January 9, 2005, when Mahmoud Abbas was elected to a four year term that he keeps extending indefinitely. What he has wrought in the years since then has been a disgrace [see for instance "10-Mar-15: The not-so-moderate Palestinian Authority and the terrorism it enables"].

It's painfully obvious, as well, that there is a sort of gentlemen's agreement among Western countries not to mention this embarrassment publicly. Undermining the legitimacy of Abbas and the merry men of his inner cabal seems to be perceived as diminishing the chances for the fair, just and equitable peace that is about to break out and just around the corner. Needless to add, that tacit support is one of the key issues in ensuring peace remains perpetually around the corner and even further away.

Abbas is now 80 years old. It's evident that age has not diminished his passion for suppressing the opposition, particularly among the closest of his colleagues:
Yasser Abed Rabbo, who has criticized Abbas’s policies and leadership, was removed two weeks ago as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s No. 2. He was replaced by Abbas confidant Saeb Erekat. Abed Rabbo told reporters Sunday he was fired without a vote, and that this “harms not only me” but the organization. Abbas’s office had no comment... [Times of Israel, today]
There are reports as well that Abbas has raged against a group of other Palestinian politicians "trying to undermine him with financial support from the United Arab Emirates". Foes on that list include former Palestinian prime minister Salaam Fayad (whose not-for-profit organization Future for Palestine was raided by PA police in June, and its money frozen), and Fatah tough-guy Mohammad Dahlan, now-exiled and living (very, very comfortably) in the Emirates. Both, along with Abed Rabbo, are considered rivals for Abbas' autocratic throne.

A December 2014 article in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar foreshadowed the direction in which things are moving:
...Abbas may be on the cusp of implementing a number of decisions to sack figures who are no longer toeing his political line, especially since his phobias about conspiracies targeting him have shifted from his known opponents to figures who were once close to Abbas ["Is a coup being plotted against PA President Abbas?", Alakhbar English, December 19, 2014]
Abbas' ambitious - and frustrated - 'young' rival (he is now 71) sticks in our memory particularly because of the outrageous claim he made in the wake of the Palestinian Arab terorist massacre in central Jerusalem in 2001 which our daughter Malki was murdered:
Palestinian legislative council member Hanan Ashrawi said the pizza parlour attack was part of a cycle of violence. Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo went farther: "Sharon provoked it. Sharon waited for it. Sharon wanted it," he said. ["Israel stunned by Jerusalem blast", BBC, August 9, 2001]
Abed Rabbo is malevolent, but no fool. Condemning vile acts of terrorist savagery is dead easy when, in the very same breath, you explain to the world in general and your own political constituency in particular that really it was never your own side that did the evil but the enemy.

If, as might be the case, the rise and rise of Abed Rabbo who just a few years ago was described as "a staunch Abbas confidant" but who was already relieved of his PLO duties (by Abbas) in December 2014, has now come to an end, some revealing exposures may be on the way.

For instance, about corruption - here is what Abed Rabbo said from inside the Abbas circle, and from a position of insider power, just a few months ago
 “Abu Mazen [Abbas] wants to consolidate all authorities with his cronies,” Abed Rabbo was quoted as saying, claiming that Abbas was planning to hand over Abed Rabbo’s authorities to Ramzi Khoury, head of the Palestine National Fund. “He acts in a dictatorial way, wishing to control everything related to money.” ["Palestinian official bashes ‘dictatorial’ Abbas", Times of Israel, December 14, 2014]
If this is what one of Abbas cronies said while still being a crony, now that he is not he might find it convenient to expand on the details.

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