On November 29th, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, held its seventh congress. The congress had been presented by some as an opportunity to shake up the entrenched and out of touch leadership of the party and renew the Palestinian national struggle.
Such a shakeup is desperately needed. Palestinians in the occupied territories have been denied a democratic voice since the 2006 legislative elections and Fatah party chairman Mahmoud Abbas has overstayed his term as PA president by eight years. Abbas has faced mounting criticism over his continued pursuit of a failed negotiations strategy and increasingly autocratic style of governance. However, on the first day of the congress, delegates unanimously reappointed Abbas as chairman of Fatah for another five-year term. Continue reading “Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People”
This Monday, the Lebanese parliament formally appointed former general and civil war-era warlord Michel Aoun president of Lebanon. His appointment ended a stalemate between Lebanon’s major parties and politicians that had kept the post vacant for two and a half years. While it has mostly been presented in western media as the triumph of the Hezbollah and Iran backed Aoun over the Saudi backed Hariri, the election of Aoun says more about the heart of the Lebanese political system than it does about regional power struggles. Lebanon was founded in 1943 based on agreements between political and social elites hoping to protect their networks of power and privilege within their own communities. These agreements still define the logic of Lebanese politics today. The path of Michel Aoun, a man who bears significant personal responsibility for the death of hundreds, to the presidency highlights just how well this system still protects the interests of political elites and how poorly it works for the people of Lebanon. Continue reading “Lebanon’s New President is a Symbol of a System Designed to Fail”