debkafile: Washington indicates Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad is favored successor to Mahmoud Abbas

US will soon start training Palestinian security officers as guards for VIPs visiting West Bank.
The State Department in Washington announced Sunday that trainers from the Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security will begin carrying out protection exercises with Mahmoud Abbas’ Presidential Guard on the West Bank in the fall. debkafile‘s military sources report: The courses running through early 2008 will take place at the Presidential Guard facility in Jericho. The announcement stresses that they will take place under an agreement signed Aug. 2 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Washington is thus tagging Fayyad as its favored Palestinian leader and successor to Mahmoud Abbas, who indicated to his associates last week that he would not run for re-election as PA Chairman. It also blocks Abbas’ path to reconciliation with Hamas, for which Saudi Arabia and Egypt are pushing.
Washington has pledged $80m for training members of the Palestinian security services.
Noteworthy too is the fact that the US Statement Department is involving itself in training Palestinian security personnel for the first time. Until now, the instructors belonged to the Central Intelligence Agency or British, Jordanian and Egyptian services and worked with President Bush’s coordinator Gen. Keith Dayton.
The Presidential Guards units whom they trained at a cost of tens of millions of dollars in the past year let the side down two months when it came to resisting the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Instead of guarding the Gaza-Egyptian border, the Rafah gateway to Egypt, and Palestinian institutions of government, officers and men alike refused to fight. Some even went over to Hamas in mid-battle.
The Bush administration hopes the State Department will get better results.
It will be first time that American security officers are directly in command of Palestinian security forces since the 1990s. That experiment also backfired badly when the Palestinian trainees used American-supplied weapons in their 2000 Al Aqsa Uprising against Israel.
In the last two months, Israeli and Palestinian security forces have resumed coordination and the delivery of weapons to the Ramallah government has been waved through.

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