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Arafat Flees 'Arab World' For Paris
'Wife' Returns from and quickly back to luxurious self-exile
Vultures Circle for Money, Power and Succession

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 29 October: There is often such pathetic symbolism surrounding Yasser Arafat even as many of his people cling to his legacy as the 'symbol of Palestinian nationalism' -- itself nearly as tattered and frail as the Grand Old Man has himself become.

For the past few years essentially imprisoned in his own Muktada compound, within a barricaded and Israeli-surrounded city of Ramallah, itself now within the apartheid 'separation' wall and the omni-present military occupation that has the impoverished remnants of his country carved into fragmented and isolated pieces -- Yasser Arafat nevertheless remains on the world stage much larger than life but also more distraught than ever.

Always having to ask the Israelis for 'permission' while sometimes turning for additional permission to the Hashemite Regime in Amman, even at this historical moment the Palestinian leader doesn't go to an Arab hospital somewhere in the vast 'Arab world'. Rather Arafat flies off to a western capital oblivious it seems to the symbolic implications -- both historical and modern-day.

Add to all this imprisonment, permissions, and fleeing, the image of his 'wife' Suha Tawil 'returning' from her own self-imposed luxurious Paris self-exile...not even having seen her 'husband' for many years. Now she is scene after so long supposedly 'rushing' to his bedside just in time to accompany him back to Paris where she herself long-ago abandoned her own people as well as him.

Indeed, the vultures are now all circling closer eager to get the numbers and keys to the secret bank accounts, competing to claim even in historical catastrophe the remaining legacy and legitimacy of 'The Old Man' should he pass from either the worldly scene or just the political one.

Yet not a single one of those mentioned in today's Guardian article -- except the one the Israelis have in prison -- has any real personal trust and legitimacy among the Palestinian people. They are all known to be corrupt, quislings, or thugs -- all creatures in fact of the U.S.-Israeli created 'Palestinian Authority' itself so responsible for having so badly misled the Palestinian people to their more miserable than ever state of affairs.

And meanwhile Arafat's arch nemesis, the Grand Old Man of the Israelis, the man with so much Palestinian blood on his hands, the man long considered a war criminal and neo-fascist by so many even of his fellow countrymen, must be gloating over all that is now transpiring. Amazingly Ariel Sharon is even basking in the political glow of being complimented the other day by the U.N. Secretary-General -- even as he further imposes the new Apartheid on the Holy Land ensuring that no real Palestinian State west of the Jordan will come to be, even as he further conspires with the Americans to impose on the entire region the 'new world order' -- a Pax Americana Israelica that all the Arab leaders of the region will be charged in history with having allowed, and in far too many cases, with having helped to bring to be. MER

Real battle of succession to be fought among younger, homegrown generation
Ewen MacAskill

The Guardian, UK, 29 October: Any battle to succeed Yasser Arafat would be fought initially among the older generation of Palestinian politicians and fighters who spent most of their lives in exile with the president.

But the real battle will be within a younger, homegrown generation of politicians who were brought up and raised in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr Arafat's likeliest successors are Mahmoud Abbas, better known as Abu Mazen, and Ahmed Qureia, known as Abu Ala.

The new generation, leaders such as Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan, may make way for the two Abus this time round, with Mr Mazen possibly taking charge of the PLO and Mr Ala as president of the Palestinian Authority. But Mr Rajoub and Mr Dahlan will be preparing their future bids, as they have been for the past few years.

Marwan Barghouti - another, more popular, member of that generation and the most likely long-term successor - is still in jail in Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)

A strong contender to become leader of the PLO, the 69-year-old would be the US and Israeli choice, regarded by them as likely to crack down on groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

He was in exile with Mr Arafat in Tunis but ties between the two are fraught and he refused to return to Gaza with Mr Arafat in 1994.

He finally returned to the West Bank last year to become prime minister but was too weak to stand up to Mr Arafat or wring concessions out of the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon. After four months, he resigned.

Ahmed Qureia (Abu Ala)

The 66-year-old is a reluctant prime minister, frequently on the verge of handing in his resignation because of interference by Mr Arafat.

Like Abu Mazen, he is regarded by the Israel government as someone that it could do business with. He was one of the architects of the Oslo peace process.

Lacking charisma, he has little support at the popular level. This left him exposed during in-fighting with Mr Arafat this year.

He admitted this weakness in an interview a fortnight ago with journalists.

He said: "You have a president who is in prison and a prime minister who is free and not free, who can move about but does not have the authority to solve problems. I am not a professional politician and, maybe, my skin is not thick enough."

Marwan Barghouti

The 45-year-old is the best known of the new generation of homegrown Palestinian leaders. Unlike Abu Mazen and Abu Ala, he was brought up and spent most of his life in the West Bank.

He demonstrated his leadership qualities during the first Palestinian uprising of 1987-1993 and is one of the main leaders of the second intifada that began in September 2000.

He opposed suicide bombings and other attacks inside Israel and advocated confining Palestinian attacks to the West Bank and Gaza.

He was captured by the Israelis in 2002 and is currently serving long jail sentences after he was subsequently found guilty of multiple murders.

His conduct during his trial and the fact he is in prison has helped boost his popularity among Palestinians. He will almost certainly do well if he chooses to stand as a candidate from his cell.

The Israeli government will determine his fate. If the politicians believe that Mr Barghouti is prepared to reach a deal with Israel, they could release him early. If they decide he will cause more trouble, he will remain in prison.

Mohammed Dahlan

At 43, he is another homegrown Palestinian, born in Khan Yunis, in Gaza. Where Mr Barghouti's powerbase is in the West Bank, Mr Dahlan seeks control of Gaza.

Arrested six times by the Israelis, he was deported to Tunis, returning in 1993.

He was in charge of the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus in Gaza until he fell out of favour with Mr Arafat, who saw his reform proposals as an act of betrayal.

He is a polished political performer who is liked by the US, Israeli and British governments. Britain last year facilitated study leave for him in the UK while he was out of favour with Mr Arafat.

He has made many enemies among fellow Palestinians, especially on the West Bank. When British journalists asked Hakam Balawi, the Palestinian interior minister, about Mr Dahlan as a potential successor, he was emphatic: "No. No. A thousand times no."

Mr Dahlan has continued to build support in Gaza, where the Palestinian Authority has to contend for power with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Jibril Rajoub

Aged 51, he is almost a mirror image of Mr Dahlan on the West Bank. He was in charge of security in the area until he too fell out of favour.

He was deemed by Mr Arafat to have failed to put up enough of a fight against the Israeli incursion in 2002, especially his failure to remain in the fortress-like police headquarters in Ramallah. He is now back in favour.

Mr Rajoub, like Mr Dahlan, is still in close contact with counterparts in Israeli intelligence. Mr Arafat this month teased him, claiming he was in secret talks with Ariel Sharon through his son Omri.

Mr Rajoub spent 17 years in Israeli jails. He also went to Tunis with Mr Arafat.

He is apparently opposed to attacks on civilians, either in Israel or on Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

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Source: http://www.middleeast.org/articles/2004/10/1157.htm