Middle East & Africa
Bowing to Widespread Anger, Arafat Replaces Newly Appointed Security Chief
By Yasser AbuMoailek
Middle East Correspondent
Gaza City, July 19, 2004 — The Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has issued orders to replace the newly appointed head of the Public Security Service and asked the former chief to return to his position. Speaking to reporters, Nabil Abu Rudeina, Arafat's media advisor, said that Arafat issued an order to replace Brig. Gen. Moussa Arafat, as head of the Public Security Services, after a day of widespread angry demonstrations against this appointment that ended in fierce gun battles. Abu Rudeina added that the Palestinian leader phoned Brig. Gen. Abdel Razek Al Majaideh and asked him to return to the office he left last week at Arafat's request. Following the appointment of Moussa Arafat last week, who was head of the military intelligence, masked gunmen attacked last night the military intelligence's headquarters in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, exchanging fire with the security personnel inside and threatening to burn down the building. Despite the swift replacement of Moussa Arafat, opponents to the appointment claimed the appointment perpetuated a system of corruption and cronyism endemic among the Palestinian leadership. However, Moussa Arafat retained a high-ranking position, serving as head of the Public Security in Gaza Strip, and subordinate to Al Majaideh, Palestinian officials said.
|Brig. Gen. Abdel Razek Al Majaideh, flashing the victory sign to supporters after being returned to office as chief of the General Security Sertvices by President Arafat. Courtesy Reuters|
The current upheaval in the Palestinian territories, mainly Gaza Strip, highlighted the increasing pressure on Arafat, following a series of resignations by Palestinian security chiefs and finally the Palestinian Cabinet with its head, Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei.' Informed political sources in Ramallah said that Arafat has rejected PM Qurei's resignation letter, but the latter maintained that he would not withdraw his resignation letter, and would just run things in the government until a solution was found. The Palestinian premier's bureau chief, Dr. Hasan Abu Libdeh, regarded the Palestinian government a victim of the grave violations in Gaza Strip, pointing out that the only side benefiting of this turmoil was the Israeli occupation. "The resignation of the Israeli government was a result of its inability to exercise an effective and successful role in enforcing law and order," Abu Libdeh said. During a press conference following his appointment, Moussa Arafat said, " I take my orders from His Excellency President Arafat." Seated below a huge portrait of the Palestinian leader, he added, "he is the only one who can ask me to quit my job." Up to now the head of the Palestinian military intelligence services, Moussa Arafat has a reputation for ruthlessness. He was among the founders of Fatah in 1965 and has stood by his uncle's side since then.
|Moussa Arafat, the current head of the Palestinian military intelligence services, was replaced as chief of the general security services in less than a week. Courtesy Reuters|
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Yasser AbuMoailek, a journalist and feature writer working for the International Press Center in Gaza Strip. He contributes to many circulations inlcuding the Seoul Times, as well as monitoring the situation in the Middle East, especially the Palestinian territories.