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Fatah mulls suspending senior officials over statement

MP Bahia Hariri, right, receives Palestinian official Azzam Ahmad, left, at her house in Sidon, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: The Fatah Movement is considering suspending senior Fatah official Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Issa, known as Lino, and other low-ranking officers, according to Palestinian sources.

This move could be a response to a statement issued last week by a group of officers calling themselves Fatah’s Correction Movement in which they lashed out at what they called rampant corruption within Fatah’s senior circles and the Palestinian Embassy in Lebanon.

The decision to suspend Lino was expected to be relayed to Fatah’s Central Committee through a recommendation by Palestinian envoy to Lebanon Azzam Ahmad, also a member of the committee, following a series of meetings this week.

Ahmad’s rounds of talks concluded Friday with a tour that included political figures from Sidon.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Ahmad said strict measures would be taken against Lino.

The possibility that Lino would be suspended generated fears that the committee was making a hasty decision that would lead to more tension in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp, where Lino is a senior security official for Fatah.

Mediation efforts were made by Palestinian and Lebanese officials to reconcile Lino and Ahmad, but they came to a halt when Lino demanded that Palestinian Ambassador to Lebanon Ashraf Dabbour and PLO representative Fathi Adu al-Ardat resign. Lino and his supporters also demanded that the embassy exercise no influence over officers responsible for security in camps such as Ain al-Hilweh.

Ahmad firmly rejected these conditions. He said after talks with Sidon MP Bahia Hariri in the suburb of Majdalyoun: “Our rifles aren’t for rent, and we won’t let anyone to stray from the Fatah Movement’s principles, which is welcomed and supported by all Lebanese groups and by the Lebanese state.”

“We won’t allow the Palestinian refugee camps to be used in Lebanese disputes. There won’t be any undisciplined commander or member among our ranks ... No one is more important than Fatah and the PLO, and those who abandon their commitments won’t stay among our ranks,” he added.

While visiting former MP Osama Saad, Ahmad said: “There is no crisis in Fatah. It’s more like a riot, because insignificant individuals always cause a riot. We will not allow foreign fingers to touch our ranks and harm us. Those who carry on rioting cry out a lot, but they keep silent in the end.”

Ahmad also visited former Sidon Mayor Abdel-Rahman Bizri, who stressed the importance of maintaining stability in the Palestinian camps.

“The unity of Lebanese and Palestinian ranks, the success of the Geneva conference in resolving the crisis in Syria and the importance of preserving the resistance and protecting it are the basic goals which we should commit ourselves to, so that a new [political] settlement won’t be made at our expense,” Bizri said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 28, 2013, on page 2.

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