Maan News claims to have gotten in its hands a secret agreement between Egypt, Hamas and the discredited Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan(55), which would make Dahlan the leader of a national unity government in the besieged Gaza Strip, with Hamas controlling the Ministry of the Interior and thus being in control of the security of the tiny coastal enclave.
Hamas’ new leader Yahya Sinwar would be the head of the Ministry of the Interior. In effect, he would share power with Dahlan.
After president Mahmoud Abbas’ hopes of a peace deal in negotiations led by the United States apparently evaporating before the peace talks have even began, this is another major setback for him if true.
Hamas and Dahlan seemingly make odd allies, because Dahlan as Fatah leader lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, after a rule that was considered brutal, corrupt and incompetent. But the rule ‘the enemy of my enemy is my ally’ still seems to hold true.
AN UNSEEN HAND?
The role Egypt has taken in this seems surprising, considering that normally the United States could be expected to quash should independent action from Egypt’s government and that Saudi-Arabia’s – which has held significant influence over Egypt because of the financial aid it has given during al-Sisi’s presidency – relationship with Hamas have recently taken another negative turn and played a role in the Qatar crisis.
This makes us expect that some yet unseen hand may be moving the pieces on the geopolitical chessboard of the Middle East when it comes to this agreement – if it’s real and goes through. That hand, perhaps, belongs to Russia which is claimed to have deepened its relationship with Egypt recently.
If so, it would mean another setback for president Abbas, who has tried to cultivate a positive relationship with Moscow while not stepping on any toes in Washington D. C. United States’ indifference towards the Palestinian cause might have given an opening to form this unlikely alliance.
Dahlan, his wife and children were given Serbian nationality in 2013, and while Serbia seeks European Union membership, it should not forgotten that Serbia sees Russia as it’s foremost foreign ally and would be unlikely to deny Russia if it would ask such a favour in its attempt to cultivate a foreign politician.
To Israel the possibility that the siege of Gaza Strip might be broken would be, naturally, a significant setback – mainly because it has invested so much in keeping it up.
It would lose face – and on the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank a Hamas’ alliance with disgruntled Fatah elements working with Dahlan would create an even more volatile situation.
The security co-operation with Abbas’ government could increasingly break down, if this move strengthens Fatah’s inner opposition like remaining Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades commanders.
Dahlan has also called to an end to the security co-operation with Israel – after allegedly helping Israel to track down and kill Palestinian resistance figures during his exile in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Naturally Israel would welcome the weakening in Abbas’ position, because Israel’s regime can be accused of many things, but never of foresightedness.
Because of this Israel’s regime would receive this agreement, if carried through, with ambivalence. It might think it has suffered a tactical defeat when it comes to the Gaza Strip, but a strategic victory through weakening of Fatah and the internationally recognized Palestinian government in Ramallah.
Muhammad Dahlan has been sometimes in the past seen as a possible Quisling figure who would be ready to sign off much of the occupied territories, but on the light of the recent events, it seems that he has some protean qualities; a man who seemingly can offer himself as an ally to every side and faction (as Dahlan has been claimed to have done during his career) is one easily underestimated.
He might not be the most admirable of political phoenixes that the Middle East has witnessed, but frombeing a minor political player selling his services to various sides, he is now on the brink of becoming a major player.
But if he gains power in the Gaza Strip, he would have to start offering solid gains to his allies (convenience and otherwise) and supporters, instead of being something for everyone.