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October 19, 2002

Ex-aide condemns Arafat's handling of intifada

Arafat's mistakes detailed. Or is the former aide positioning himself politically should there be an election?
Yasser Arafat has been criticised by his former security chief for failing to grasp the chance to establish an independent state, even on unfavourable terms, and for the attacks on Israeli civilians.
Muhammad Dahlan, who resigned last week as Mr Arafat's national security adviser and returned to his base in Gaza, was quoted by the London-published Arabic daily Al-Hayat condemning the leadership for causing Palestinians to suffer for no perceivable gain.

It reported that Mr Dahlan spoke to a group of journalists on Sunday who were told not to take notes. Nevertheless, it said it had a written record of the conversation.

"The Palestinian leadership missed no opportunity to make mistakes," it quotes Mr Dahlan saying.

"There were two streams in the [Palestinian Authority]: those who say the people can suffer and [are] steadfast, and those who say the people has collapsed. Both are wrong. The people can suffer if its sacrifice will be politically rewarded."

Mr Dahlan describes the suicide bombings and attacks on Israeli civilians as a political disaster for the Palestinian cause, particularly after September 11. He is quoted as telling journalists that he opposed the "military strategy" and favoured popular resistance modelled on the first intifada, but Mr Arafat failed to act on the advice.