Monday, July 19, 2004

Gaza erupts 

Another Middle Eastern quagmire, this time further west of Mesopotamia:

"A revolt in the Gaza Strip against Yasser Arafat's autocratic rule worsened yesterday as dozens of militants linked to his own Fatah movement sacked a base of the Palestinian intelligence service, commanded by his cousin, Mousa Arafat.

"The rebels drove out the security guards soon after midnight and seized the building in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. They stole weapons, smashed furniture and set fire to two offices and cars parked outside.

"They were protesting at Mr Arafat's promotion of his unpopular kinsman to head a new amalgamated security service. He had dismissed Ghazi Jabali, the national police chief, who was kidnapped for three hours on Friday and was said to have confessed to raping Palestinian women and embezzling millions of dollars.

"Two thousand demonstrators marched through Gaza City on Saturday night chanting: 'One dog, Jabali, has gone, and another dog, Mousa Arafat, is taking his place'."
"Arab News" notes two ironies:

"Arafat’s overhaul [of Palestinian security forces] has been a key demand of the United States and Israel to restart peace negotiations, moribund ever since the road map was introduced over a year ago. Yet it could also begin a process which might lead not to peace but to an all-out Palestinian civil war.

"There is another iron too: Having sought for over half-a-century Israel’s withdrawal from occupied Palestinian lands, an obstacle has arisen which might prevent precisely such a handover. As the lawlessness increases, as splinter groups and rival factions jockey for power before Israeli troops and settlers withdraw from Gaza, the breakdown in law and order in Gaza could be but a taste of what will happen if Israel leaves altogether, an unexpected topsy-turvy situation."
The US and Israeli demands must have been a clever neo-con trick. They trusted Arafat to make the worst out of it. 


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