Once the Palestinian Authority’s security chief for Gaza, and later Mahmoud Abbas’s national-security adviser, Mohammed Dahlan had a falling out with his boss in 2011. Since then, he has been living in exile, receiving protection and financial support from the United Arab Emirates. Abbas sees him as his major rival, and reportedly has become obsessed with preventing Dahlan’s rise to power, while Dahlan has recently assailed Abbas in the Arabic press. Khaled Abu Toameh argues that more than a personal squabble is at play:
The rivalry between Abbas and Dahlan is emblematic of the power struggle between the old guard and young guard in Fatah, the largest Palestinian faction that dominates the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
This is a power struggle that has been raging for the past three decades. Dahlan is a representative of the young guard, whose members are strongly opposed to the continued hegemony and monopoly of the old guard over the decision-making process. Dahlan and the young guard are mostly from the West Bank and Gaza Strip, grassroots leaders who have long been complaining that they have been marginalized by the veteran leaders of the Palestinians who came from Lebanon and Tunisia after the signing of the Oslo Accords and who continue to block the emergence of new and younger leaders.
This power struggle will not end with Abbas’s departure. The next Palestinian president will surely be one of Abbas’s current loyalists. This in itself will drive Dahlan and his ilk to continue railing against the old guard. . . .