Covert Missions Gone Awry: Vanity Fair reports on America’s role in spurring a Palestinian civil war

March 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image of Mohammad Dahlan from Vanity Fair)

Vanity Fair has published a must-read article in its April issue. Here is an excerpt from the article which explains the central conclusion:

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by [Mohammad] Dahlan, and armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But wait — what do you say? The U.S. plan backfired and actually increased support for Hamas and allowed the group to gain full control of the Gaza Strip?

The article tracks American policy makers’s relationship with Mohammad Dahlan, a Fatah official and former security advisor, who has been instrumental in orchestrating deals between Fatah fighters and the U.S. In 2006, Bush encouraged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to hold parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip — not expecting that Hamas would win a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament.

Hamas’s victories in the election were largely a reaction to the widespread culture of political corruption which Fatah fostered. This article gives evidence to that claim and portrays Abbas and other Fatah officials as willing tools of an American administration seeking to bring down the democratically-elected Hamas government. Take for example this “talking points” memo left behind by a US State Department official:

“Hamas should be given a clear choice, with a clear deadline: … they either accept a new government that meets the Quartet principles, or they reject it The consequences of Hamas’ decision should also be clear: If Hamas does not agree within the prescribed time, you [Abbas] should make clear your intention to declare a state of emergency and form an emergency government explicitly committed to that platform.”

Walles and Abbas both knew what to expect from Hamas if these instructions were followed: rebellion and bloodshed. For that reason, the memo states, the U.S. was already working to strengthen Fatah’s security forces. “If you act along these lines, we will support you both materially and politically,” the script said. “We will be there to support you.”

What I find most depressing, though not shocking, is how Fatah officials are so willing to collaborate with Israel and the United States. These officials are more interested in preserving their positions of power and taking illicit bribes than working with Palestinians against a brutal military occupation.

Read the full article for more details about how the US provided Fatah with arms shipped through Egypt and approved by Israel. Way to go, Fatah! You know your morals are intact when you are receiving weapons shipments approved by the very power which is occupying your land and killing your people. It is curious that Fatah is not able to see that the ultimate benefactor here is Israel. Fatah and Hamas are being torn apart by internal violence while Israel solidifies control over Palestinian land.


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