The Ghost of Dahlan!

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 19 March / Mar 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Following a long while of staleness, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to visit Cairo to meet Egyptian President Abdul Fattah Sisi.

Notably, it has been years quite some time since they last met.

The relationship between the two over the recent year at least featured gapping fluctuation, from total stillness, to peaking tension.

On our part, though, Arab and Palestinian media have spoken openly about King Abdullah’s role in setting this meet up to preface the restoration of relations between the two presidents.

For years, Egypt and other Arab states have been trying to pressure force Abbas into reconciling with Mohammad Dahlan, to reintegrate under the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fath.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the Palestinian parties in Ramallah and Gaza has been deteriorating so fast that Abbas just broke it off completely and stood Dahlan in trial.

Typically, Dahlan had become Abbas’s prime rival. So much so that Abbas dedicated Fath’s latest conference to completely removing Dahlan politically, to put to rest his obsession with there being some plan to replace him with Dahlan.

Abbas fought it, tirelessly, despite the shock of Dahlan’s influence among Arab and Western players. Dahlan was no longer the national rival Abbas thought he was, he had become a regional player contender, with strong allies.

Jordan’s relationship too with Dahlan was not healthy. That aside, Amman did not mind the reconciliation between Dahlan and Abbas.

It is not exactly clear whether or not Egypt and the rest of the lobby have decided to lighten up their pressures against the President or altogether stop pushing, but it is clear Abbas is not going to succumb to Arab pressure.

He persists still that Dahlan’s reinstatement would further weaken the PA, which only serves Israeli interests and the plan to capitalise on Donal Trump’s presidency.

Noticeably, Israel is indeed trying to make use of Trump’s time in office. First, to expedite the Judaisation of Jerusalem, and second, to ditch the two-state solution once and for all, the moment the US embassy is relocated.

Realistically speaking, this is a game changer.

Accordingly, the King’s meet with Abbas, following another phase of staleness with Jordan; and the coordination with Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Oreiqat, is neither whimsical nor coincidental.

Given the circumstance, Jordan’s attempt to reconstruct Palestinian-regional relations is part of a new Jordanian vision, which bases on the reinforcement of the Palestinian Authority and their position, both domestically and regionally.

That in mind, it does not at all mean that the ghost of Mohammad Dahlan has diminished completely.

Despite the initiative and perhaps all good intent, Abbas’s concern that the Arab agenda to restore Dahlan’s place has not yet receded is as valid as Jordan’s call is upon Arab states to alleviate pressure and focus on the perils of Trump’s short-sightedness.

Still, the lump of regional factors supporting Dahlan’s rise are deteriorating, slowly. Which is a little reassuring for Abbas.

Truth is, Dahlan exploited the Arab counter revolution, and presented himself as a fierce opponent of politicised Islam and Islamist movements. He held and addressed several anti-Islamist conferences, and referred to the generality of Islamist movements as terrorists and extremists. He also placed the Muslim Brotherhood first on his list of terrorists, second by ISIS and Qaeda!

So, subtly, Dahlan drove his media-political agenda against Qatar and Turkey forward, riding the ripples of the “Arab Spring”.

When the pot was all ready and hot, he popped himself in as a substitute to Abbas, capable of finishing Hamas and putting an end to Islamist movements.

For now, some Arab states have decided to put the Dahlan issue aside and rehabilitate reinforce the Palestinian Authority, at least for the time being!

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.

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