Analysis: Expected Fatah delegation visit to Damascus has much to say about Syria regaining its Palestine role

Analysis: Expected Fatah delegation visit to Damascus has much to say about Syria regaining its Palestine role

Due to its sensitive geopolitical position near the Israeli borders, Syria has long been a determining actor in the Palestinian developments, with the Palestinian factions viewing Damascus the powerhouse of Arab support for their armed struggle against the occupation.

AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Due to its sensitive geopolitical position near the Israeli borders, Syria has long been a determining actor in the Palestinian developments, with the Palestinian factions viewing Damascus the powerhouse of Arab support for their armed struggle against the occupation. 

However, the 2011 political crisis and then conflict in Syria destructively impacted Damascus relations with the Palestinian groups as the latter took an inappropriate policy toward the Syrian government driven by misunderstanding the situation, lack of political experience, and miscalculation. 

But things can be expected to return to normal between the two sides as Syria won the decade-long costly war led against it by a litany of terrorist groups and also Western and Arab actors, as well as Turkey, and security and political conditions are now largely stable and sovereignty restored. 

In recent days, sources in Fatah Movement in West Bank said a delegation is set to visit Damascus. 

According to the Lebanese Al-Nashra news website, the Palestinian delegation is expected to convey a message from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a meeting. 

Informed Palestinian sources said that Jibril al-Rajub, secretary general of the Fatah movement's central committee, is to lead the delegation. 

According to these sources, the Fatah delegation will pursue three goals in this trip: First, to send Abbas's message to the Syrian president about his official position on the developments in Palestine and the actions that the PA intends to take. Second, participating in the opening ceremony of the 57th anniversary of the establishment of this movement in Damascus. And third, holding a series of meetings with Palestinian groups, especially the ones affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in order to prepare for a meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah. 

In addition to Fatah goals, the Syrian rise in the regional and Palestinian developments and also threats of its restored role to the Israeli regime are other important aspects of the trip. 

Political atmosphere appropriate for the visit 

Undoubtedly, one of the most important issues surrounding the Fatah delegation's visit to Syria and its meeting with the Syrian leader is the mutual motivation for rebuilding the damaged relations of recent years. This has already begun and the turning point was Abbas's letter to President Assad last summer. 

Although efforts to strengthen the international front in support of Palestine have always been part of the foreign policy of the PA and other Palestinian groups, the main variable of hostility of the Persian Gulf Arab states to Syrian regime after eruption of the internal Syrian crisis in the Palestine-Damascus relation chill cannot be ignored. Therefore, the openness of the Arab world, especially Persian Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to the Syrian government has paved the way for Abbas to re-establish contacts with Damascus. 

On the other hand, the performance of the Syrian leadership, which has always given the Palestinian cause centrality in its foreign policy and in opposition to the occupying Israeli regime as its archenemy, has been crucial in creating a suitable political milieu for reunion with the Palestinians. For example, Assad ordered reconstruction of Yarmouk camp to save its existence and thwart plots to nix the Palestinian refugees' right to return home and shatter United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). 

Fatah road to salvation passes through Damascus 

Fatah, as the oldest and deepest-rooted Palestinian political group in the liberation struggle, has initiated its policy to improve relations with its longtime and historic ally while it has suffered both a domestic crisis of legitimacy and declining public support and a setback in its pro-compromise doctrine due to betrayal led by its supporters the Persian Gulf Arab states which went to normalization while making no gains for Palestine in return. 

But while Fatah is going through such a difficult situation, and even this crisis has caused it to repeatedly delay the general election under various pretext for fear of losing, Abbas met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a contradictory manner and undermined Palestine's international position against Tel Aviv. On the other hand, the Israeli leaders hail the continuation of security cooperation between Fatah and Tel Aviv for the suppression of Palestinian militants, especially Hamas in the West Bank, as a triumph that continues despite all Israeli treachery against the Palestinians. 

So, thinking of closeness to Syria as a tactical measure aimed at putting strains on the Israeli government for revival of the compromise talks or an action ringing the alarms to the pro-compromise Arab states is key here.

But in such circumstances the tactical measures no longer have the power to cause Israeli retreat, and the PA must, after several years, realize that the way to support the Palestinian cause and the Palestinians' aspirations passes through Syria, and relying on Tel Aviv, Arab League, and Saudi Arabia is not only of no avail but also would waste time and embolden more hostile Israeli actions. So, the best thing Fatah can do is to learn from its past mistakes and reverse them. 

Hamas' understanding of the fact that Turkey, as an actor that attracted the movement after Syria crisis broke out, cannot be reliable in continuing the path of struggle for liberation led the movement to improve relations with Damascus much earlier than the PA, and even in an important and strategic move departed from the Muslim Brotherhood ideology as a political policy. 

Rebuilding ties with Damascus very soon yielded fruits for Hamas in 11-day May 2021 war. Talal Naji, the secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, in an interview with Al-Mayadeen news network said that Syria helped Hamas and Islamic Jihad with Kornet anti-tank missiles. He said that Hamas should admit its mistake about Syria to further bridge the gaps. 

Therefore, to get out of the swamp of problems it is sinking in, Fatah, indeed, needs to follow Hamas example and revive pro-liberation struggle and intifada policy with reliance on the largely spouting popular power across the occupied territories and its bastion West Bank.




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