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Auf Wiedersehen Fatah

Filed under: Middle East ~ Palestine

The news continues to filter in as the triumph of Hamas in the Gaza strip becomes apparent, culminating with the Palestinian government being dissolved by President Mahmoud Abbas this past hour. Fatah is running with its tail between its legs (quite literally -- 40 Executive Force soldiers loyal to Abbas had to blow up a section of the Israeli-constructed Gaza-Egyptian wall to escape Hamas), much to the dismay of the Western governments who trumpeted Abbas as the heralded moderate in post-Arafat Palestine. It seems his time is dwindling as a serious power broker in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or in Palestinian internal affairs (the tally for Abbas brokered cease-fires to be ignored the next day is in the teens).

The casual observer will be quick to judge on lines of the media created zero-sum game between Islamist Hamas and Moderate Fatah (capitalized due to caricatures). While the adjectives may be comfortingly simple, the reality has always been faith-based militants with a panache for service and charity against white mustaches primarily interested in diverting funds to Swiss bank accounts and sending their children to Paris. While Hamas isn't nearly as popular as reported, Hamas has created a following extremely devoted to their principles, while Fatah generated support primarily by bullying and defacto generational transposition.

While Fatah was birthed out of the loins of the pan-Arab, Nassir-led movement, it was reared by the slimy hands of Yassir Arafat, who personally siphoned off over one billion dollars of international aid and lined the pockets of those around him. Arafat's malignant spirit still casts a dark shadow over a group that has continued to mimic his policies of graft and kleptocracy. While the money laundering continued, Fatah sunk in a cesspool of its own political bankruptcy, leading to the dismal showing in the 2006 parliamentary elections that may be regarded in the future as the institutional revolution of Hamas.

In the short run, the collapse of the Palestinian government and the split between a Fatah dominated West Bank and a Hamas dominated Gaza will be disastrous. But in the long term, this may speed up the precipitous decline of Fatah, a shell of a party that long ago abandoned its platform of secular socialism in favor of an unhealthy dose of bureaucracy and corruption. The only hope can be that a true moderate party, more responsive to the Palestinian people, will arise during the slow bleed of Fatah's death.

Originally published on PBH.

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