Hamas Optimism vs. Fatah Despair

[Christian Science Monitor] Dan Murphy - Among many young Gazans there is excitement for a Palestinian enclave that fully embraces the principles of their Islamic Resistance Movement without the interference of Fatah rivals. In talking to Fatah members in the West Bank, however, a picture of despair, disorganization, and exhaustion emerges. "Audiences in the U.S. have a strong feeling of black and white and they're betting on which side will win based on whether it agrees with them," says Mouin Rabbani, an analyst at the International Crisis Group. "But there's an issue that is overlooked: The virtual disintegration of Fatah." Neither side has shown themselves to be paragons of democracy. In the West Bank, hundreds Hamas activists have been jailed for their political beliefs since June, gunmen out of uniform are frequently seen on city streets, and the local security forces are seen by many average citizens as unruly thugs. Qadura Fares, a member of Fatah's young guard, says: "Fatah needs radical surgery, but the patient is very frail. If you meet with 200 Fatah representatives, they'll all tell you the same thing. Corruption is our big problem. But, of course, some of those 200 are among the corrupt. Are they going to give up their positions? It doesn't look like it." One adviser to the Bush administration says that when Fatah leaders come to Washington they invariably talk about what the U.S. should do to weaken Hamas, rather than present new initiatives to further the interests of the Palestinian people.

2007-08-16 01:00:00

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