A “velvet revolution” starts in the Middle East. The authority of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has been called into question. Talks about his possible successors have become more frequent. A secret meeting of Ariel Sharon with representatives of the Palestinian administration, after which he made a sensational statement about uselessness of further contacts with Yasser Arafat and recent unflattering statements of Washington concerning Arafat are parts of one scheme aimed at removal of the Palestinian leader from the political scene.
Yasser Arafat understood the unambiguous hints and decided to be the first to act. In his interview to Egypt’s mass media he spoke about his likely successors for the first time. He suggested that one of his deputies – chairman of the legislative council Ahmed Korei or secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmud Abbas are more likely to take the post over. Besides, some candidatures who represent Palestinian special services have been mentioned as well.
The second part of the play named “Goodbye, Arafat” is being plaid in the West. On Thursday evening President Bush received Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the White House. Despite the kindly relations between the two leaders, Bush declined the appeal of Israel to sever relations with Yasser Arafat.
Observers say, Sharon arrived in Washington right at the time when Arafat’s rating, that has been low before, has dropped even lower. A day before the visit of the Israeli prime minister NBC televised Arafat’s interview that produced a rather unfavorable effect. For example, Yasser Arafat tried to avoid a direct reply to the question about the first Palestinian female kamikadze. The woman carried a bomb to Israel on her body. An aged Israeli died in the explosion. Bush’s dual position regarding Arafat is explained by his intention to keep the peace with the Arab nations, for the present moment at least. The Bush administration is even accused of support to Israel. President Bush needs support of the Arab nations for the second stage of the US anti-terror operation as never before. It means, Washington will not make haste about replacement of the Palestinian leader. George W.Bush told at the press-conference with Ariel Sharon, Vice-president Richard Cheney would visit Israel and eight Arab nations in the middle of March.
In the president’s words, the main objective of the visit is to meet with the leaders of the countries and “inform them that the USA is not joking when it says it will struggle with terror.”
George W.Bush offers the last chance to Arafat; and it is Arafat’s personal business whether to use it or not. The present moment is rather ill-disposed to Yasser Arafat. Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon has got two important allies in the White House – Vice-president Richard Cheney and President’s Advisor for national security Condoleeza Rice. The allies, as well as Ariel Sharon, think that it is of no sense to talk to Arafat.
It is interesting, what Richard Cheney is to report to President Bush after his visit to the Middle East.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/02/08/36804.html