Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography

Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography

Language: English

Pages: 392

ISBN: 0195181271

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Yasir Arafat stands as one of the most resilient, recognizable and controversial political figures of modern times. The object of unrelenting suspicion, steady admiration and endless speculation, Arafat has occupied the center stage of Middle East politics for almost four decades. Yasir Arafat is the most comprehensive political biography of this remarkable man.
Forged in a tumultuous era of competing traditionalism, radicalism, Arab nationalism, and Islamist forces, the Palestinian movement was almost entirely Arafat's creation, and he became its leader at an early age. Arafat took it through a dizzying series of crises and defeats, often of his own making, yet also ensured that it survived, grew, and gained influence. Disavowing terrorism repeatedly, he also practiced it constantly. Arafat's elusive behavior ensured that radical regimes saw in him a comrade in arms, while moderates backed him as a potential partner in peace.
After years of devotion to armed struggle, Arafat made a dramatic agreement with Israel that let him return to his claimed homeland and transformed him into a legitimized ruler. Yet at the moment of decision at the Camp David summit and afterward, when he could have achieved peace and a Palestinian state, he sacrificed the prize he had supposedly sought for the struggle he could not live without.
Richly populated with the main events and dominant leaders of the Middle East, this detailed and analytical account by Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin follows Arafat as he moves to Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, and finally to Palestinian-ruled soil. It shows him as he rewrites his origins, experiments with guerrilla war, develops a doctrine of terrorism, fights endless diplomatic battles, and builds a movement, constantly juggling states, factions, and world leaders.
Whole generations and a half-dozen U.S. presidents have come and gone over the long course of Arafat's career. But Arafat has outlasted them all, spanning entire eras, with three constants always present: he has always survived, he has constantly seemed imperiled, and he has never achieved his goals. While there has been no substitute for Arafat, the authors conclude, Arafat has been no substitute for a leader who could make peace.

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Mission Curtis Moore had gone to a Saudi embassy reception, where they and diplomats from other countries had been taken hostage by a half-dozen Black September terrorists.38 Their captors' demands were high even by the usual standards: the release of PLO terrorists imprisoned in Germany, Israel, and Jordan and also of Sirhan Sirhan, the Palestinian assassin of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy in 1968. The PLO and Arafat were now even daring to associate themselves with the murderer of one

lyad, the man in the best position to challenge Arafat for the leadership and the champion of the radicals in Fatah, called Abu Musa's men "criminals and renegades." There was no need to break with Arafat, he explained, pointing out how the Fatah Central Committee had wrecked the 1983 PLO-Jordan talks.106 Abu lyad insisted, "By raising arms against their brothers and shedding Palestinian blood, the dissidents made a big mistake." It was, wrote a Palestinian intellectual, "a Catch-22 situation."

Jewish settlements, security arrangements, and borders. YASIR ARAFAT 140 At each step of the way, this plan faced many delays, barriers, disputes, and shortcomings in implementation. Still, it did advance and, as the authors envisioned—though it took six rather than three years— finally arrived at the take-off point for negotiating a full peace treaty. Judging Arafat's plans and intentions in this period is an extremely difficult task. Was he ready for the kind of real historic compromise

in the Libyan desert (AP/Wide World Photos). U.S. president Bill Clinton stands between Arafat and Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin as they shake hands on September 13,1993, on the White House lawn after signing the Oslo Agreement (AFP Photo). Arafat in Cairo on May 4,1994, being questioned by (1-r) Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres, Russian foreign minister Vladimir Kosyrev, Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Egyptian foreign minister Amr Musa, and Egyptian president Husni Mubarak

Palestinian officials visited and took courses at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. But the CIA avoided passing on skills, such as bomb-defusing techniques, which might be used for terrorism/3 Responding to the February-March 1996 violence, Clinton organized an antiterrorist meeting of world leaders at Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt. YASIR ARAFAT 172 Arafat was invited to become a partner in the war on terror. He declared in his speech there: We are confronting and will continue to confront

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