Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Friday, January 14, 2005

A powerless Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas has been forced into responding to a critical test of his leadership just days after his election triumph. Last night, mere hours after Abbas comitted himself to the roadmap for peace, and called on militants to cease violence, Palestinian militant groups detonated a truck bomb, killing 6 Israeli soldiers at a border checkpoint. Included in those taking responsibility was the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, a group formed out of Abbas' own Fatah movement.

It's tantamount to mutiny of the grandest scale, and Abbas' response to this moment will largely define the Palestinian's view of his leadership potential. Abbas has not yet publicly responded to the attacks, and one would think that he and his advisors are working on a very carefully worded statement. The control of the militant groups was always going to be the litmus test of Abbas' leadership, and as I've stated before, it may just be outside of the scope of his influence.