Mohammed Dahlan

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Mohammed Dahlan
Born Mohammed Yusuf Dahlan
(1961-09-29) 29 September 1961 (age 52)
Khan Yunis Camp, Gaza Strip
Other names Abu Fadi
Alma mater Islamic University of Gaza
Political party
Fatah
Religion Islam
Website
Official website

Mohammed Yusuf Dahlan[1] (Arabic: محمد دحلان) born on September 29, 1961 in Khan Yunis Refugee Camp, Khan Yunis, Gaza Strip also known by the kunya or nom de guerre Abu Fadi (Arabic: أبو فادي) is a Palestinian politician, the former leader of Fatah in Gaza. Dahlan was born to a refugee family from Hamama (now in Israel), the youngest of six children.

Dahlan became politically active as a teenager and in 1981 helped to establish the Gaza branch of the Fatah Youth Movement Fatah Hawks in the Gaza Strip. Between 1981 and 1986, he was arrested by Israel 11 times for his leading role in the movement. During his time in prison, he learned to speak Hebrew fluently. Following his release from prison, Dahlan completed a BA in Business Administration at the Islamic University of Gaza.

In 2007, Dahlan assisted in a U.S. plan to overthrow the elected Hamas government in Gaza, but the coup failed when Hamas carried out a counter-coup, and routed Fatah forces in Gaza instead.[2]

Oslo years[edit]

Dahlan was chosen to head the Preventive Security Force in Gaza after the signing of the Oslo Accords. He built up a force of 20,000 men,[3] making him one of the most powerful Palestinian leaders, dealing regularly with the CIA and Israeli intelligence officials.[4] His forces were accused of torturing Hamas detainees throughout the 1990s, allegations Dahlan denies.[5][6] During this period Gaza was nicknamed "Dahlanistan" due to his power.[7] His reputation was damaged in the Karni scandal of 1997 when it was revealed that Dahlan was diverting 40% of the taxes levied at the Karni Crossing (an estimated one million Shekels a month) to his personal bank account.[8][9]

Second Intifada[edit]

In 2001 he upset Yasser Arafat by beginning to call for reform in the Palestinian National Authority and expressing dissatisfaction with a lack of coherent policy.[10][11]

In 2002, he resigned his post as head of the Preventive Security in Gaza in the hope of becoming Interior Minister; this did not occur, and he was offered a post as security adviser but rejected it. In April 2003, he was appointed the Palestinian Minister of State for Security by Mahmoud Abbas, despite the objection of Arafat.[12] By September he had been ousted when Abbas resigned as Prime Minister, and was replaced by Hakam Balawi.[13]

He repeatedly tried to campaign on a reform and anti-corruption ticket and tried to profile himself as an outspoken critic of Arafat, although many observers dispute his personal integrity. Nevertheless Dahlan and his followers in internal Fatah elections won over most of the Fatah sections in Gaza.[14][15]

In 2004, Dahlan was assumed to have been behind week-long unrest in Gaza following the appointment of Arafat's nephew Moussa Arafat as head of Gaza police forces.[16] This appointment was considered by some a deliberate step to weaken Dahlan's position before the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip and sparked massive protests.[17]

Gaza Infighting[edit]

On January 26, 2006, Dahlan was narrowly elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the Palestinian legislative election of 2006 as a representative for Khan Yunis. Dahlan took a tough stance against Hamas,[18] calling their election victory a disaster and threatening to 'haunt them from now till the end of their term' and to 'rough up and humiliate' Fatah supporters tempted to join the Hamas-led Palestinian government.[19]

On December 14, 2006 gunmen attempted to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as he crossed Gaza's border with Egypt, killing a bodyguard and wounding five others, and sparking further clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters in Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas accused Dahlan of orchestrating the attack.[20] Dahlan rejected the accusations, saying, "the Hamas government is fully responsible for yesterday's events."[21]

On January 7, 2007, Dahlan held the biggest-ever rally of Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip,[22] where he denounced Hamas as 'a bunch of murderers and thieves' and vowed that 'we will do everything, I repeat, everything, to protect Fatah activists'. In response Hamas labeled Dahlan a 'putschist' and accused him of bringing Palestinians to the brink of civil war.[23]

Dahlan was a Fatah representative in negotiations which resulted in the Hamas-Fatah Mecca Agreement of February 8, 2007, in which both sides agreed to stop the military clashes in Gaza and form a government of national unity. In March 2007, despite objections from Hamas, Dahlan was appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to lead the newly re-established Palestinian National Security Council, overseeing all security forces in the Palestinian territories.[24] Dahlan organised paramilitary units of several thousand fighters trained with American assistance in Arab countries, and lobbied Israel to allow Fatah forces in Gaza to receive large shipments of arms and ammunition to fight Hamas.[25]

In the April 2008 edition of Vanity Fair it was revealed that after the 2006 elections Dahlan had been central in a US plot to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. The Americans provided money and arms to Dahlan, trained his men and ordered him to carry out a military coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, the elected Hamas government forestalled the move and itself carried out an armed counter-coup.[26][27]

Battle of Gaza[edit]

In July 2007, Dahlan resigned from his post as national security adviser.[28] The resignation was little more than a formality, since Mahmoud Abbas had issued a decree dissolving his national security council immediately after the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Dahlan has been blamed by many in Fatah for the rapid collapse of their forces in Gaza in the face of a Hamas offensive that lasted less than a week. During the fighting Dahlan's house on the coast of Gaza was seized by Hamas militants and subsequently demolished. He and most of the other senior security commanders of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces were not in Gaza during the fighting, leading to charges that their men had been abandoned in the field.[29]

Return to West Bank[edit]

Shortly after his forces were expelled from Gaza, Dahlan re-established himself in the West Bank. Tensions grew between his supporters and opponents when Fatah leader and former Interior Minister Hani al-Hassan gave an interview on Al-Jazeera in which he said what happened in Gaza was not a war between Fatah and Hamas; but between Hamas and Fatah collaborators who served the Americans and the Israelis, making clear that he was referring to Dahlan's supporters.[30] Representatives of Dahlan pressured Mahmoud Abbas to fire and punish Al-Hassan, while masked gunmen opened fire on his home in Ramallah.[31] Al-Hassan accused Dahlan of planning to murder him, a charge which Dahlan denied.[32]

In October 2007 The Bush administration reportedly exerted heavy pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to appoint Dahlan as his deputy. Some Fatah officials said that the US and some EU countries had made it clear they would like to see Dahlan succeed Abbas as head of the PA.[33]

In August 2009 Dahlan was elected to the Central Committee of Fatah.[34] However the results were controversial, with Fatah suffering mass resignations over claims the elections were fraudulent.[35][36]

Allegation of murdering Yasser Arafat[edit]

In June 2011 Dahlan was expelled from Fatah because of repeated claims by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he had murdered Arafat. In September, his house was raided by the Palestinian police and his private armed guards were arrested. In August 2011 his former party accused him of murdering Arafat using poison.[37] In June 2012, after a 9-month investigation launched by Al Jazeera, traces of the radioactive poison polonium were found on Arafat's belongings, strongly increasing suspicions that he was poisoned.

Al-Mabhouh assassination[edit]

Hamas has claimed that two Palestinians arrested in Dubai for suspected involvement in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Ahmad Hassanain and Anwar Shheibar, are former members of a death cell which carried out violent suppression of Hamas members, and work at a construction company in Dubai owned by Dahlan.[38] A senior Hamas official told Al-Hayat newspaper that the two provided logistical aid to the Mossad hit team alleged to have carried out the assassination, renting them cars and hotel rooms.[39] Dahlan denied the charges, saying "I don't have the towers people say I have in Dubai."[40]

Criticism[edit]

Other Palestinians have criticized Dahlan. Jibril Rajoub, with whom he cultivated a deep and personal rivalry, claimed in 2003 that everybody knew Dahlan was an Israeli agent.[41][42] He has also been criticized for his good relationship with Arafat's long-time financial adviser Muhammad Rashid and Dahlan's own London-based business.[43] Dahlan is alleged to have enriched himself through corruption; his personal wealth has been estimated at well over $120 million.[44][45]

Others claim that, for the sake of deterring political rivals and counterweighting the numerous armed militias, he maintained a private army in the Gaza Strip in 2003 and 2004, which was trained and equipped by American services, with Israel intending to force a conflict between Dahlan's forces and Hamas.[46]

Dahlan has also faced criticism regarding his role in Gaza turmoil, especially in exchanging hostilities with rival security forces commander Ghazi al-Jabali. In 2003, Preventive Security Force gunmen raided the offices of Jabali's General Security organization, going so far as to jam his head into his office toilet.[47]

Dahlan was accused of initiating a smear campaign against PA Civilian Affairs Minister Hussein Sheikh in September 2012, when the latter was alleged to have been involved in a sex scandal with a female employee in his department.[48]

Famous quotes[edit]

  • "Snipers or no snipers, let Hamas shoot and kill me, I want to be close to the masses!"[49]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Palestinian Security Ace: Muhammad Yusuf Dahlan". CNN. April 24, 2003. 
  2. ^ The Gaza Bombshell. David Rose, Vanity Fair, April 2008. Original without links. The final action plan (2 March 2007): An action plan for the Palestinian Presidency – 2007
  3. ^ John Pike (1961-09-29). "Mohammed Dahlan". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  4. ^ Five killed as Israeli tanks go deep into Gaza, 16 December 2001, Daily Telegraph
  5. ^ Rift Between Hamas and Fatah Grows After Gaza, 07 February 2009, Time
  6. ^ The elephant in the room, 05 September 2010, Al Jazeera
  7. ^ A Road Map to Where?, June 2003, London Review of Books
  8. ^ "The Murder of Musa Arafat and the Battle for the Spoils of Gaza". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 10 October 2005. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  9. ^ "بقلم : د. إبراهيم حمامي" (in Arabic). arabmail.de. 29 July 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  10. ^ European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation at the Wayback Machine (archived June 11, 2009)
  11. ^ "Suicide Bomber Strikes Israel Again". CNN. 27 May 2002. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Haaretz Arafat trying to undermine Dahlan's security powers By Arnon Regular 10 July 2003
  13. ^ Raffi Berg (23 April 2003). "Profile: Mohammed Dahlan". BBC News. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  14. ^ al Ahram All for reform The call for Palestinian reform is all well and good, but how deep run the roots of corruption, asks Lamis Andoni Issue No. 701 29 July - 4 August 2004
  15. ^ Conrad Urquhart (1 August 2004). "Arafat 'ruining his people' says protege". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  16. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh (18 July 2004). "Dahlan likely behind unrest 18 July 2004". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Reuters and Associated Press (3 August 2004). "Gaza powerbroker threatens mass protest". The Age. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  18. ^ Ken Ellingwood (21 January 2007). "Lawmaker's tough talk rouses Fatah faithful". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Dahlan vows to decimate Hamas". Al-Ahram Weekly. 14 June 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  20. ^ "Hamas accuses rival of PM attack". BBC News. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  21. ^ Hamas and Fatah clash as tensions escalate, New York Times
  22. ^ Haaretz Dahlan to Haaretz: We proved to Hamas that Gaza is not theirs. By Avi Issacharoff, 10 January 2007
  23. ^ "Gaza chief brands Hamas murderers". BBC News. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  24. ^ Hamas slams Abbas' decision to appoint Dahlan as security chief, Haaretz, 3/19/07.
  25. ^ Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel (7 June 2007). "Fatah to Israel: Let us get arms to fight Hamas". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  26. ^ The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose, April 2008, Vanity Fair
  27. ^ "Kill A Hundred Turks And Rest…" , by Uri Avneri, 08/03/08, Gush Shalom
  28. ^ Avi Issacharoff (26 July 2007). "Mohammed Dahlan resigns following Fatah's Gaza defeat". Haaretz. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  29. ^ Defeated Fatah Leader Resigns Official Post By Isabel Kershner, July 26, 2007, New York Times
  30. ^ Fatah leader slammed over statements release on Al-Jazeera June 28, 2007, International Middle East Media Centre
  31. ^ Ali Waked (June 28, 2007). "Abbas advisor says Hamas fighting collaborators". Ynet. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  32. ^ "The war within Fatah". Al-Ahram Weekly. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  33. ^ Abbas resists US pressure to name Dahlan his deputy 22 October 2007, Khaled Abu Toameh Jerusalem Post
  34. ^ Mohammad Yaghi (15 August 2009). "Fatah Congress: A Victory for Abbas". lebanonwire.com. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  35. ^ Fatah in turmoil after 'rigged poll'
  36. ^ Khaled Abu Toameh (3 September 2009). "Former Abbas ally calls him 'a third world tyrant'". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Fatah: Ex-Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan poisoned Arafat". Haaretz. Associated Press. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  38. ^ "Dubai police say that Hamas murdered al-Mabhouh". Jewish Chronicle. February 25, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  39. ^ "Hamas: Palestinians linked to Dubai hit employed by Fatah strongman Dahlan". Haaretz. Associated Press. February 19, 2010. Retrieved February 19, 2010. 
  40. ^ "Hamas official: PA deeply involved in Mabhouh hit". Ynet. February 18, 2010. Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  41. ^ New York Times Once Neighbors, Now Rival Palestinian Leaders By James Bennet 29 April 2003
  42. ^ Jpost Where in the world is Fatah's strongman Dahlan? By Khaled Abu Toameh 13 June 2007
  43. ^ John Kifner (May 21, 2002). "As Arafat Critics Close In, Deputies Vie in the Wings". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  44. ^ Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs 10 October 2005
  45. ^ Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs Can the Palestinian Authority's Fatah Forces Retake Gaza? Obstacles and Opportunities by Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh
  46. ^ Chris McGreal (20 June 2003). "'The real obstacle to peace is not terror, but sabotage by Sharon-backed army'". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  47. ^ "JCPA Middle East Briefing: The Palestinian Battle for Succession". Ujc.org. 2004-03-03. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 
  48. ^ "Sex scandal hits PA on eve of statehood bid" in The Jerusalem Post, September 27, 2012
  49. ^ "Dahlan: Hamas are murderers - Israel News, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2012-07-08. 

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