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Thursday, May 26, 2011     GET REAL

Exiled Dahlan raising profile, given platform
in post-Mubarak Egypt

CAIRO — The Palestinian Authority's exiled security chief has sought to return to the West Bank.


Mohammed Dahlan has raised his profile over the last few weeks amid preparations by the Palestinian Authority to declare statehood in September. Dahlan has renewed public activities as well as interviews with the Arab media in what signaled an intention to return to political life.

"We must move closer to the needs of citizens and provide solutions not slogans," Dahlan said.

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In a briefing in Cairo on May 23, Dahlan criticized the Fatah movement, which exiled him in late 2010 on charges that he sought to overthrow PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Middle East Newsline reported. Dahlan said the Fatah reconciliation agreement with Hamas did not take into account the demand by Palestinian refugees to return to the homes of their ancestors in what is now Israel.

Arab diplomatic sources said Egypt has allowed Dahlan to return to Cairo after at least two years of enmity. They said the decision was made by Egyptian intelligence in wake of the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, whose regime regarded Dahlan as an ally of Al Qaida-aligned militias that sought to destabilize Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

The 49-year-old Dahlan said Hamas was pressed to sign the reconciliation accord amid the revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hamas has maintained its headquarters in Damascus for some 20 years.

"What happened in Syria may be an element, and what happened in the Arab world might have been a motivation [for reconciliation]," Dahlan said.

Dahlan, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, was also said to have renewed contact with the Hamas regime nearly four years after he and his forces were expelled in 2007. He said all Fatah forces, including himself, must be allowed to return to the Gaza Strip.

In the briefing, Dahlan, whose family lives in Jordan, said he supports elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip despite the threat of a Hamas victory. But he did not say whether he would seek election either as PA chairman or a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Dahlan won a seat in the PLC in the last election in 2006, which resulted in a Hamas victory.

"Let's wait for the results in the upcoming elections," Dahlan said. "The changes that occur around us will be channeled toward the interests of the Palestinian people."

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