Monday, February 20, 2006

Young Guard

Much of the focus on Fatah in the aftermath of Hamas's electoral victory has been over how far they can limit Hamas's power and what sort of control Abbas can exercise through the Presidency and PLO. However, as Benjamin Fisherman and Muhammad Yaghi remind us, the real future of Fatah probably depends on the so-called "Young Guard's" ability to united behind and organized leadership and gain control of the movement. So far, disputes only continue:
"If the elites within Fatah were divided before the election, they are even more so in its aftermath and have yet to devise a strategy for moving forward. Most of the revolutionary council has called for accelerating preparations for Fatah's sixth general conference, a meeting of delegates that sets the policies, direction, and leadership of the movement. Fatah last conducted such an exercise in 1989. Once again the young guard is divided: imprisoned leader Marwan Barghouti supports expediting the conference, for example, while Ahmed Hilles of Gaza opposes it as an attempted power grab by a limited group. Although the conference is in theory the appropriate venue to redefine Fatah and its leadership, the young guard appears incapable of uniting in order to advance its agenda—which focuses on the needs of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza—and resist the priorities of Palestinian leaders based in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and elsewhere."

Under these circumstances, Israel might be well advised to release prisoners such as Barghouti, which are the best hope for eventually driving Hamas from power. I suspect the old Tunisian clique which currently dominates the movement is a spent force in terms of Palestinian public opinion, unless life under Hamas because truly awful.


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