RAMALLAH Ñ The United States plans to launch an accelerated effort
to train Palestinian Authority security officers in a bid to wrest control of the multiple security agencies from Yasser Arafat.
PA officials said the CIA will begin training of security officers this
week in the West Bank city of Jericho. They said the U.S. intelligence
agency has completed arrangements to train security officers from the Gaza
Strip and the West Bank in two-week training courses meant to improve their
skills in counter-insurgency.
Officials said 300 officers from the Preventive Security Apparatus will
be trained over the next few weeks in police and counterterrorism procedures
as part of
a CIA plan to restructure the PA security forces and remove them from the
direct control of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The PSA is overseen by PA Security Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan, who
has asked the European Union for $400 million to refurbish the PA security
forces. Dahlan served as commander of the PSA in the Gaza Strip from 1994 to
2002, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The plan calls for the agency with help from the Jordanians and the
Egyptians to provide training to new cadres of Palestinian security
personnel," former CIA official Kenneth Pollack told a seminar in Washington
earlier this month. "But it also is supposed to bring about a rejiggering of
the line and box chart of the Palestinian security services. So you
streamline down from the 10 or 11 or however many it has been, down to three
and they're very clear lines of authority for those three services that make
them no longer the personal purview of Yasser Arafat."
Last week, Arafat appointed Ziyad Habarih as the new commander of the
PSA in the West Bank. The agency had been essentially leaderless for about a
year in wake of the dismissal of PSA commander Col. Jibril Rajoub.
Zabarih is 40 years old and comes from Jenin. He is regarded as an
associate of Rajoub. The PSA refused to recognize Rajoub's immediate
successor, Zuheir Manasra.
The United States and the European Union have approved a plan to form a
new police force to deal with Islamic unrest. The group has been termed the
Central Security Forces and is being trained and equipped by both Arab
states as well as U.S. and EU personnel.
PA officials said the new force is part of a plan to reorganize some of
the 12 security agencies. They said this could include the drafting of
members of Palestinian insurgency groups into the security forces.
"As regards the question of integration, this is an issue that we will
discuss when it arises through wisdom and according to our people's interest
and political view," PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said last week.