Posted by: sean | January 26, 2009

Abu Mazen’s swan song

One thing that seems clear to me in the aftermath of Gaza is that Abbas is toast. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority may still be salvageable, but Abu Mazen’s reputation is not.

The National has an excellent piece by Mouin Rabbani, who explains why Gaza is just the last nail in Abbas’s coffin. He finishes up with this caustic prediction:

There is no longer anything Abbas can say or do to remain in power. The only relevant question is if he will jump before he is pushed – with the coup de grace almost certain to come from within the Fatah movement or the ranks of the public rather than Islamist circles.

No less importantly, there is now also nothing his sponsors and allies can do to save his skin. Utterly cynical initiatives like that by the Europeans promising aid to a national unity government – which, when formed in 2007, served as a pretext for them to continue to boycott the PA – will achieve nothing. Bribes, threats, even wars or peace conferences can no longer prevent the emergence of a new Palestinian national movement. We do not yet know its shape, nor how it will emerge. At this point the only certainty is that unless it can more authentically represent the will and aspirations of its people – by challenging rather than accommodating the status quo – and thereby make more effective progress toward basic objectives, it will not last long.

My prediction is that Salim Fayad will be too tainted by his association with Abbas to be able to lead Fatah to an electoral victory in the event of elections. Maybe I’m an optimist, but I’d like to think that someone like Mustafa Barghouti will give the dying Fatah and belligerent Hamas a run for their money. After all, he was able to pick up about 20% of the presidential vote in 2005. Palestine could certainly use a change.

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