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             MER SCOOPS THEM ALL - BY 3 WEEKS!

MER - Washington - 8 June 1998:
Months before a front-page NEW YORK TIMES story that Arafat's "Palestinian Authority" was being trained by and working closely with the CIA, MER had already published two articles detailing the CIA's extensive involvement with the PA, including personal visits by Rajoub Jabril to the CIA Headquarters at Langley, Virginia, and training of Arafat's bodyguards and others at "the farm".

Now once again little MER has scooped them all. Yesterday the major Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported for the first time that during May Israel and the "Palestinian Authority" cooperated to prevent Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from visiting South Africa where an eager Muslim community was excitedly making preparations.

Stay tuned. Iran and other Arab countries are now seriously considering annointing Sheik Yassin, and Hamas, the recognized representatives of the Palestinians. Hamas offices are sprouting up in Iran, Syria, Sudan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia; even while the Hashemite Regime in Jordan and the Lebanese have been pressured by the Israelis and Arafat to refuse further visits from Yassin.

Meanwhile, the Israelis and the Americans are politically manipulating the growing credibility of Hamas in order to try to further pressure Yasser Arafat into signing the latest deals they want him to endorse, arguing that unless he keeps the "peace process" alive the movement toward Hamas might escalate even further. And sure enough, as he has so often before, Arafat is likely to buy into these latest schemes, dependent as he has become on Washington and Israel for the surival of himself and his cronies.



MER - Washington - 14 May:  Every once and awhile Nelson Mandela seems to forget who he is; well actually, who he was.  Now this little incident with the Hamas leader, Sheik Yassin, didn't quite make it into the "mainstream" news, but it is both interesting and politically significant.

While the Muslim community of South Africa was preparing to welcome the blind paraplegic Sheik Yassin earlier this month, the post-Apartheid Black South African government was being bombarded with pressures to keep Yassin out, and in the end caved.

It was a combination of pressures applied by the powerful South African Jewish community as well as Yasser Arafat's "Palestinian Authority", both working the same side of the fence this time.

Yassin, on a triumphant international tour which saw him greeted practically like a head of state in Saudi Arabia and Iran, was on his way to South Africa, only to learn that Mandela had decided to deny him a visa!

Quite outrageous really. Yassin wasn't asking to come on any "official" visit. He simply was to be the guest of the Muslim community of South Africa.

It was the triumph of political expediency and financial interests over principle -- not so unusual these days. Except that it came from the government of Nelson Mandela, the man who had just recently lectured Bill Clinton, in public, about the need for the U.S. to stop ostracizing and embargoing Libya, Sudan, Cuba, et. al.

But even with the Clinton visit there was a foretaste of Mandela's somewhat schizophrenic situation these days. With the U.S. still applying near-genocidal sanctions against Iraq, and still looking for the moment to further prostrate that country, Mandela was quiet about Iraq during Clinton's visit.

When it comes to the Palestinians and the "Peace Process", however, one could have expected Mandela to try a lot harder not to succumb. After all, the map of what is being done to the Palestinians these days looks remarkably similar to the hodge-podge map that was the old Bantustan policy in his own country and for which he languished in prison 27 years until the White Apartheid government relinquished control.

As for Hamas, supposedly a little deal has now been worked out, even if to many it seems more deflective smokescreen than anything else. Having found himself treated with less commotion in Riyadh and Tehran than Yassin, Arafat's handlers have been telling Hamas that after Yasser makes his own visit to South Africa they won't further try to block Yassin from doing so.

Whether Mandela and government will eventually wake up to the reality that the Arafat "Authority" is no liberation organization like was the ANC, but is much more akin to a Vichy-type regime,* seems doubtful at the moment.

* The Nazi-installed regime that governed France during the German occupation in World War II.

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