Mohammed Dahlan: Wikis


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Mohammed Dahlan (محمد دحلان), (Muhammad Dahlan) also known by the kunya or nom de guerre Abu Fadi [1] [2], is a Palestinian politician, the leader of Fatah in Gaza. Dahlan was born on September 29, 1961 in Khan Younis refugee camp in Gaza to a refugee family from Hamama. In 1981 he helped found the Gaza branch of the Fatah Youth Movement Shabibat Fatah.


Political career


First Intifada and Oslo

In 1987 he was a leader of the First Intifada, but was arrested by Israel for this role. After being released he joined the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunis, orchestrating protests in Israel, where he gained the trust of Yasser Arafat.

In 1993, he was involved in secret talks with Israel which eventually culminated in the Oslo Accords of 1993. For his role in these talks, he was given the position of security chief of the Preventive Security Service (the police force of the newly created Palestinian Authority), enjoying widespread popular support.[3] In this role, he continued to negotiate in several subsequent talks, such as the Camp David 2000 Summit.

Second Intifada

His support waned when he took some unpopular actions during the Second Intifada, cracking down on rioters and militants and helping to negotiate ceasefires.[4] Dahlan took these actions on the orders of Yasser Arafat, who after initially resisting calls by the United States to act to prevent violence, finally ordered his security forces to prevent further violence. This was seen as a critical step in the resumption of a last-ditch effort at negotiations on permanent status issues with the Israelis and Americans.[5]

In 2001 he upset Arafat by beginning to call for reform in the Palestinian National Authority and expressing dissatisfaction with a lack of coherent policy.[6][7]

In 2002, he resigned his post as head of the Preventive Security in Gaza in the hope of becoming the Interior Minister; this did not occur, but he was offered a post as security adviser. He did not take this step. In April 2003, he was appointed the Palestinian Minister of State for Security by Mahmoud Abbas, despite the objection of Arafat.[8] By September he had been ousted when Abbas resigned as Prime Minister, and was replaced first by Hakam Balawi (Oct 2003-Feb 2005) and then Nasser Youssef (Feb 2005-March 2006).[4]

Fatah in Gaza

He repeatedly tried to campaign on a reform and anti-corruption ticket and tried to profile himself as an outspoken critic of Yasser Arafat, although many observers dispute his personal integrity. Nevertheless Dahlan and his followers in internal Fatah elections won over most of the Fatah sections in Gaza.[9][10]

In 2004, Dahlan is assumed to have been the driving force behind week-long unrests in Gaza following the appointment of Yasser Arafat's nephew Mousa Arafat, widely accused of corruption, as head of Gaza police forces. This appointment was considered by some a deliberate step to weaken Dahlan's position before the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip and sparked massive protests.

Recently Dahlan's allies, namely Rashid Abu Shbak, seem to be involved in silencing Palestinian critics of the growing lawlessness in Gaza and the passive role of the security services therein. Prof. Riad al-Agha, president of the Gaza-based National Institute of Strategic Studies, was arrested after publicly (on Palestinian TV) criticizing the Preventive Security organization for not obeying orders from the PA Interior Ministry (held by veteran Nasser Yussef), but rather acting on commands from other high ranking PA elements (an allusion to Dahlan). Al-Agha was released only after publicly withdrawing this criticism. Source

On January 26, 2006, Dahlan was narrowly elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the Palestinian legislative election of 2006 as a representative for Khan Younis. In January 2007, Dahlan took a tough stance against Hamas.[11]

On January 7, 2007, Dahlan hehld the biggest-ever rally of Fatah supporters in the Gaza strip[12][13]

In March 2007, despite objections from Hamas, Dahlan was appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to lead the newly re-established Palestinian National Security Council, which is intended to oversee all security services in the Palestinian territories.[14][15]

Gaza infighting

In July 2007, Dahlan resigned from his post as national security adviser.[16] The resignation was little more than a formality, since Mahmoud Abbas had issued a decree dissolving his national security council immediately after the Hamas takeover of Gaza in mid-June 2007. Dahlan has been blamed by many in Fatah for the rapid collapse of their forces in Gaza in the face of a Hamas offensive that lasted less than a week. During the fighting Dahlan's house on the coast of Gaza, which many locals had seen as a sign of corruption by Fatah, was seized by Hamas militants and subsequently demolished. He and most of the other senior security commanders of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority security forces were not in Gaza during the fighting, leading to charges that their men had been abandoned in the field.[17]

In the April 2008 edition of Vanity Fair it was revealed that after the 2006 elections Dahlan had been central in a US plot to remove the Hamas-led government from power. The Americans provided money and arms to Dahlan, trained his men and ordered him to carry out a military coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, the Hamas government forestalled the move and itself carried out an armed counter-coup.[18][19]


Other Palestinians have criticized Dahlan. Jibril Rajoub, with whom he cultivated a deep and personal rivalry, claimed for example in 2003 that everybody knew Dahlan was an Israeli agent.[20][21] He has also been criticized for his good relationship with Arafat's long-time financial adviser Muhammad Rashid and Dahlan's own London-based business.[22] Dahlan has been alleged to have enriched himself through corruption.[23]

Others claim that he, for the sake of deterring political rivals and counterweighting the numerous armed militias, maintained in 2003 and 2004 a private army in the Gaza Strip which was trained and equipped by American services.[24][25]

Dahlan also was under criticism regarding his role in Gaza turmoil, to which he contributed his share, especially in exchanging hostilities with Gazan rival Ghazi Jabali. In 2003, gunmen stormed and raided the offices of the latter's General Security organization (and reportedly went so far as to dunk his head into a toilet several times);[26] they were said to be followers of Dahlan's ally Rashid Abu Shbak, head of the Preventive Security Service organization (Note that although Dahlan doesn't head this organization any more, he is still widely believed to have great influence on its leadership).

Famous Quotes

  • "Snipers or no snipers, let Hamas shoot and kill me, I want to be close to the masses!" [1]
  • "Whoever harms [Palestinian] civilians must expect similar responses."


  1. ^ Dahlan urges gunmen to give up arms, Associated Press, retrieved 17-May-2007.
  2. ^ Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem, Stuart Reigeluth, Al-Ahram Weekly, retrieved 17-May-2007.
  3. ^ Jewish Virtual Library Mohammed Dahlan
  4. ^ a b BBC Profile: Mohammed Dahlan By Raffi Berg 23 April 2003
  5. ^ Source: Page 730-740, The Missing Peace by Dennis Ross.
  6. ^ European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation
  7. ^ CNN transcripts 27 May 2002
  8. ^ Haaretz Arafat trying to undermine Dahlan's security powers By Arnon Regular 10 July 2003
  9. ^ al Ahram All for reform The call for Palestinian reform is all well and good, but how deep run the roots of corruption, asks Lamis Andoni Issue No. 701 29 July - 4 August 2004
  10. ^ GuardianArafat 'ruining his people' says protege by Conal Urquhart in Tel Aviv 2 August 2004
  11. ^ Lawmaker's tough talk rouses Fatah faithful, LA Times, 1/21/07.
  12. ^ Haaretz Dahlan to Haaretz: We proved to Hamas that Gaza is not theirs By Avi Issacharoff, 10 January 2007
  13. ^ Independent Hamas softens Israel stance in calls for Palestinian state By Eric Silver in Jerusalem 11 January 2007
  14. ^ Hamas slams Abbas' decision to appoint Dahlan as security chief, Haaretz, 3/19/07.
  15. ^ BBC Gaza chief brands Hamas murderers 10 January 2007
  16. ^ Haaretz Mohammed Dahlan resigns following Fatah's Gaza defeat By Avi Issacharoff,27 July 2007
  17. ^ Defeated Fatah Leader Resigns Official PostBy Isabel Kershner, July 26, 2007, New York Times
  18. ^ The Gaza Bombshell, by David Rose, April 2008, Vanity Fair
  19. ^ "Kill A Hundred Turks And Rest…" , by Uri Avneri, 08/03/08, Gush Shalom
  20. ^ New York Times Once Neighbors, Now Rival Palestinian Leaders By James Bennet 29 April 2003
  21. ^ Jpost Where in the world is Fatah's strongman Dahlan? By Khaled Abu Toameh 13 June 2007
  22. ^ New York Times As Arafat Critics Close In, Deputies Vie in the Wings By John Kifner May 21, 2002
  23. ^ Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs 10 October 2005
  24. ^ Guardian 'The real obstacle to peace is not terror, but sabotage by Sharon-backed army' 20 June 2003
  25. ^ Jerusalem Centre for Public AffairsCan the Palestinian Authority's Fatah Forces Retake Gaza? Obstacles and Opportunities by Dan Diker and Khaled Abu Toameh
  26. ^


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