PA Chairman Abu Mazen convened a meeting of senior Fatah leaders last week to discuss the publication of the recording of his close associate Hussein al-Sheikh in which he utters sharp criticism of the PA chairman and even curses him.
Al- Sheikh did not deny in the meeting the words that were heard in the recording that was leaked to “shiab” news agency of Hamas, the meeting dealt with the deep disputes in the Fatah movement and it was agreed on another meeting on the subject.
Al-Sheikh briefs his close associates that the publication of the recording will not harm his relationship with the head of the Palestinian Authority, but senior Fatah officials say that a deep crisis has arisen between the two and Abu Mazen is giving Hussein al-Sheikh the cold shoulder.
The rare recording is still causing a stir on the street. Palestinians are witnessing the continuation of the struggles at the top of the Fatah movement over the question of who will be Abu Mazen’s successor.
The main loser from the issue of the leaking of the recording is Hussein al-Sheikh himself, Fatah sources say that “his big mouth has harmed him greatly” and that “his chances of becoming Abu Mazen’s successor are close to zero”.
The main beneficiaries of the release of the tape are senior Fatah officials Jabril Rajoub , Mahmoud al-Aloul, Majed Faraj and Mohammad Dahlan who was expelled from the Fatah movement but is supposed to return to it after the death of Abu Mazen.
Another beneficiary is senior Fatah member Tawfik al-Tirawi, an opponent of Hussein al-Sheikh who is suspected of having leaked documents from the investigative committee In the circumstances of Yasser Arafat’s death, which indicate that Abu Mazen had a great interest in getting rid of Yasser Arafat, Fatah sources claim that al-Sheikh is the one who convinced Abu Mazen to take sanctions against al-Tirawi.
Hussein al-Sheikh lost his position as the right-hand man of the head of the Palestinian Authority and his possible successor, sources in the Fatah movement, say that senior Fatah officials conducted a “sting operation” for Hussein al-Sheikh, secretly recorded him about two months ago and leaked the recording to Hamas for publication.
It seems that this is not the end of the affair and soon more recordings of Fatah officials will be leaked to the press.
Abu Mazen is quite satisfied with what happened, there are many senior Fatah officials around him and their dependence on him only increases because of their lust for power, he is taking advantage of this to apply the “divide and rule” method to achieve all his goals.
Abu Mazen told his close associates that he had never designated Hussein al-Sheikh as his successor and that the successor would only be chosen as part of general elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Hussein al-Sheikh’s relations with his political ally Majed Faraj were also ruined and Faraj tends to support
Mahmoud Alaloul as the successor of Abu Mazen.
The security officials in Israel and the CIA in the US are very worried about the developments, Hussein al-Sheikh, who was accepted by them as a possible successor, lost his status and the battle of succession became even more complicated, as things stand now there will be no escape from choosing a successor to Abu Mazen through elections, this means a bloody struggle on the ground between the various militias of Fatah and also the likely possibility that the Hamas candidate who wins the elections will be elected president of the Palestinian Authority.
Fatah Secretary General Jabril Rajoub called on Fatah activists this week to unite and put aside their differences, there are now talks between senior Fatah officials about dividing Abu Mazen’s powers into three positions that will be temporarily filled by Fatah officials until the elections are held for the presidency.
Hussein al-Sheikh will continue to serve as the secretary general of the PLO’s executive committee and also as minister of civil affairs, thus maintaining the relationship with Israel and the American administration , but he is considered burned by
Abu Mazen and on the Palestinian street, the succession battle in the PA is far from over and more fascinating struggles at the top of Fatah are expected.