Barry Rubin, who blogs in his capacity as director of the Interdisciplinary Center’s Global Research in International Affairs Center, says our collective eye has not been on the ball in covering the Fatah congress — we should be asking why Mahmoud Abbas selected as his successor a hard-line, anti-Oslo process figure, Muhammad Ghaneim:
It would be as if Russia chose a hardline Stalinist as its next leader and that fact was not deemed worth reporting. Might not this tell us something important about the politics and future policies of Fatah and hence of the PA, too?
Why did all those people—two-thirds of the delegates–vote for him? Ghaneim got 33 percent more votes than did Barghouti, who not only has a personal base of support but the appeal of being a “political prisoner.”
Ghaneim is simply not that personally popular. I can speculate that he is the candidate of hardline Fatah chief Farouq Qaddumi, a man who is close to Syria’s radical dictatorship, who is popular but too old to run himself. But the key reason is that Mahmoud Abbas, PA and PLO leader, and his colleagues told delegates to vote for Ghaneim.
Abbas may well leave the scene in the next year and Ghaneim would then become leader of the PA, PLO, and Fatah, too. He would be only the third leader in history of this trio. From a political and policy view this is incredibly important, far more so than the minor changes being touted as revolutionary.
UPDATE: It’s not clear whether Muhammad "Abu Maher" Ghaneim won the successor role. He won the most delegate votes, but I can’t find sourced reporting saying that means he has the successor slot. Also, earlier reporting suggests an Abbas-Ghaneim reconciliation, but does not say whether that means Ghaneim moved towards Abbas’ moderation or the other way around.