Palestinian Authority prime minister submits resignation after two weeks in office

Palestinian Premier Rami Hamdallah submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after serving only two weeks in office, citing a "conflict over authority" with other Palestinian officials. Alternatively, Hamdallah’s resignation offer may have represented a "tactical move" to rid of cabinet deputies and forge a compromise with the Palestinian president. Though not yet accepted ...

Joshua Haber
Joshua Haber
Joshua Haber

Palestinian Premier Rami Hamdallah submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after serving only two weeks in office, citing a "conflict over authority" with other Palestinian officials. Alternatively, Hamdallah's resignation offer may have represented a "tactical move" to rid of cabinet deputies and forge a compromise with the Palestinian president. Though not yet accepted by Abbas, the resignation underscores the confusion within the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) and projects an image of political disarray in the PA-dominated West Bank. The resignation, if accepted, could further undermine international and investor confidence in the PA, already enduring serious financial difficulties. Moreover, the move threatens to disrupt the peace efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is expected to visit the region next week.

Syria

Palestinian Premier Rami Hamdallah submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after serving only two weeks in office, citing a "conflict over authority" with other Palestinian officials. Alternatively, Hamdallah’s resignation offer may have represented a "tactical move" to rid of cabinet deputies and forge a compromise with the Palestinian president. Though not yet accepted by Abbas, the resignation underscores the confusion within the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) and projects an image of political disarray in the PA-dominated West Bank. The resignation, if accepted, could further undermine international and investor confidence in the PA, already enduring serious financial difficulties. Moreover, the move threatens to disrupt the peace efforts of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is expected to visit the region next week.

Syria

Foreign ministers of the eleven countries forming the "Friends of Syria" group will meet in Doha, Qatar on Saturday to discuss military and humanitarian aid to the Syrian opposition. The talks will address rebel leaders’ requests for more advanced military equipment, including anti-tank and anti-air weaponry, and will also discuss the proposed peace conference between rebel forces and the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The meeting will take place amidst growing rebel losses at the hands of regime forces, which continue to prosecute military offensives against rebel positions in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo. On Friday, Syrian forces shelled the Damascus neighborhood of Qabun in an attempt to expel opposition fighters. Given the conflict’s rising humanitarian toll, the United Nations is considering supporting the cross-border transportation of supplies into Syria. The United Nations estimates that the Syria crisis could produce up to three million refugees by the end of the year. Meanwhile, four U.S. senators announced legislation that would prevent U.S. government agencies from providing military support to Syrian rebel groups.

Headlines

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began an overseas trip in which he will participate in the "Friends of Syria" meeting in Qatar and attempt to advance his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.
  • A 46 year-old Jewish Israeli man suspected of being a Palestinian militant was shot and killed by a security guard at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
  • Spanish authorities arrested eight people suspected of recruiting militants for al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria.
  • Egyptian Islamists gathered in Cairo in support of President Mohamed Morsi ahead of the opposition protests scheduled for June 30. 

Articles & Analysis

‘The Price of Loyalty in Syria’ (Robert F. Worth, New York Times)

"No one in the room would say it, but there was an unspoken sense that they, too, were victims of the regime. After two years of bloody insurrection, Syria’s small Alawite community remains the war’s opaque protagonist, a core of loyalists whose fate is now irrevocably tied to Assad’s. Alawite officers commanded the regime’s shock troops when the first protests broke out in March 2011 – jailing, torturing and killing demonstrators and setting Syria on a different path from all the other Arab uprisings. Assad’s intelligence apparatus did everything it could to stoke sectarian fears and blunt the protesters’ message of peaceful change.

Yet the past two years have made clear that those fears were not completely unfounded, and it did not take much to provoke them. Syria’s Sunnis and Alawites were at odds for hundreds of years, and the current war has revived the worst of that history. Radical jihadis among the rebels now openly call for the extermination or exile of Syria’s religious minorities. Most outsiders agree that Assad cynically manipulated the fears of his kinsmen for political survival, but few have asked – or had the opportunity to ask – how the Alawites themselves feel about Assad, and what kind of future they imagine now that the Sunni Arab world has effectively declared war on them.

‘What is horrible is that everyone is now protecting his existence,’ Sayyid Abdullah Nizam, a prominent cleric in Damascus, told me. "For all of the minorities, it is as if we have entered a long corridor with no light.’"

‘Turkey: Confrontational Politics is No Panacea’ (Fadi Hakura, Chatham House

"Turkey’s MetroPOLL 3-12 June survey of 2,818 respondents across Turkey suggests that Erdogan’s broad attractiveness to voters has started to fracture. It found that 54% believed the government was interfering with their lifestyles, 49.6% view Erdogan’s handling of the unrest as ‘confrontational and provocative’, and nearly 50% accept that Turkey is moving toward an ‘authoritarian and repressive style of governance’. 

If this survey is any guide, Erdogan’s assertive socially conservative agenda, which has recently included efforts to restrict the sale and consumption of alcohol, limit women’s access to contraception and increase religious content in the school curriculum, is not popular with the majority of Turks. His approval rating has declined by a statistically significant 7% to a still robust 53% over the last two months; arguably, it is higher than expected due to the absence of a credible political opposition."

Joshua Haber & Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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