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"Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has grown senile and is no longer up to fighting for his people's rights, a Saudi newspaper claimed yesterday, a day after the 68-year-old leader of the Palestinian self-rule authority visited Saudi Arabia for a meeting with King Fahd. Al-Riyadh [indicates] the Arab-Israeli peace was 'stillborn' [and] called for Arab countries to renew their boycott of the Jewish state and prepare for armed conflict."*
"An editorial in an official Saudi Arabian newspaper has harsh criticism of Yasser Arafat. The paper, Al Riyadh, calls Arafat 'senile' and 'defeatist.' The paper writes that the Palestinians are convinced that Arafat is no longer fit to lead them, because of his age, his senility, and his inability to keep up with the Israeli government's maneuvers."**
MER - WASHINGTON - 27 May:
For some time MER has pointed out how the "PA" is really an Israeli-American concoction designed to help them coral the Palestinians onto modern-day Reservations, divide and demoralize Palestinian society, and fragment the movement for true Palestinian independence. Indeed, just a few days ago in a New York court hearing it was revealed that U.S. government officials, admitting they were acting on behalf of Israel, offered to make a Palestinian in U.S. custody a "high official of the PA" if he would only cooperate and tell what he knows about Hamas.
Now we're well aware that quoting anything from Saudi newspapers is always a tricky proposition. While the English-language Saudi press, read primarily by non-Saudis and hence abit less constrained, occasionally publishes some useful articles, most of the time these are reprints from abroad and hardly ever do they deal with matters directly relating to "The Kingdom". In short, quotes from the heavily controlled Saudi press, especially on important matters of the day, are always going to be in tune with Saudi government policies. But in this case relating to Arafat, maybe this reality is exactly the point.
The Arab client-regimes are nervous indeed. The Hashemites in Jordan are worried about being overthrown, especially since in recent years King Hussein's government has practically become symbiotic with U.S. and Israeli plans to control the region. Goodness, Jordan's U.S. Ambassador even attended this year's Israel/Jewish lobby convention in Washington and gave a public talk!
And the Saudis too have become very nervous and are desperately attempting to position themselves as something other than the American protectorate they have become. Hence the new rapprochement with Iran. Hence the recent visit of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin to Riyadh where he was treated substantially more deferentially than Arafat. Hence this week's call for Yasser Arafat (and by extension his entire cabal, Nabil Shaath and Abu Mazen at the of the list) to go.
* WT, A12, 27 May