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July 22, 1988 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-07-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

MIDEAST

JEFF
LEIB
Tough Law Enforcement

Professional Administration
Fighting for Crime Victims

Yassir. Arafat's Roller Coaster
Career Hits Rock Bottom

HELEN DAVIS

Jerusalem Correspondent

assir Arafat's 20-year
tenure as chairman of
the Palestine Libera-
tion Organization resembles
nothing so much as a roller
coaster ride — dizzying
achievements followed by sud-
den failures followed by
triumphs on the heels of
despair.
Last month, Arafat was on
an upswing. His Palestinian
followers in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip continued to
defy the Israeli occupiers.
Their six months of sustained
strikes and riots had put the
Palestinian cause and the
PLO back on the map.
This month, Arafat is again
in the grips of despair. The
PLO strongholds in and
around the Lebanese capital
have been overrun, and last
weekend the final remnant of
Arafat's fighting force was
ignominiously shipped out
under Libyan and Syrian
escort to the sourthern port
city of Sidon.
The agent of Arafat's latest
reversal is his senior lieu-
tenant-turned-challenger,
Abu Moussa, who broke with
the PLO chairman in 1983
following the Israeli invasion
of Lebanon and the subse-
quent PLO expulsion from
Beirut.
Behind Abu Moussa, how-
ever, stands the imposing
figure of an even more im-
placable Arafat foe: Syria's
President Hafez Assad, un-
disputed master of a collec-
tion of Syrian-based Pales-
tinian dissident groups,
known collectively as the
Salvation Front.
It was he who inspired Abu
Moussa's defection in 1983
and who allowed the rebels to
break Arafat's control of the
refugee camps in Beirut over
the past three months.
Assad's determination to
destroy Arafat's painstaking-
ly reconstructed presence in
the Lebanese capital is a bit-
ter blow to PLO chairman
and his supporters.
Not only did the latest
humiliation undo most of
Arafat's diplomatic gains at
the Algiers Summit, but it
also destroyed any vestige of
hope in PLO circles of a sulha
(reconciliation) between
Arafat and the powerful
Syrian leader.
Following the assassination
of Abu Jihad, a leading
Arafat lieutenant, in Tunis
three months ago, the PLO
chairman was invited to

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Private Practice Attorney, 18 years
Trustee, West Bloomfield Township, 5 years
Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor, 2 years
Planning Commissioner, West Bloomfield Township,
12 years
Crime Prevention Committee Chairman, State Bar
Association
Program for Alternatives to Drugs (P.A.D.),
Vice-President and Co-Founder
Headlee Tax Limitation Amendment, Co-Chairman
Oakland County Bar Association, Board of Directors
and Secretary
Optimist Club of West Bloomfield, Charter President
West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce,
Past President
Briarcliff Homeowner's Association, Past President
University of Detroit School of Law,
Juris Doctor Degree
Michigan State University, B.A. Degree
Married (Bryna Linden), with three children
Temple Isreal, Board of Trustees
Jewish Welfare Federation, Jr. Division Board
Member
Jewish Community Council of Metropolitan Detroit,
Executive Committee
Hebrew Free Loan Association, Board of Directors
Yeshivah Beth Yedudah, Former Teacher

REPUBLICAN FOR PROSECUTOR

JEFF
* * * * * * * * * LEIB
* * * * * * *

Paid for by Citizens to Elect Leib Prosecutor
6735 Telegraph Road, Suite 320, Birmingham, MI 48010

28

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 1988

Yassir Arafat: Stopped by Assad.

Damascus to meet with
Assad, his first visit since he
was unceremoniously ex-
pelled from Syria five years
earlier.
There were high hopes that
this meeting would provide
an opportunity for the two
men to bury their particular-
ly bloody hatchet.
Most important, Arafat
must have hoped that Assad
would grant him a sought-
after prize: the freedom to
rebuild the autonomous Pal-
estinian presence in Lebanon
that was destroyed by the
Israeli invasion six years ago.
Assad had other ideas. The
smiles and handshakes that
were exchanged in Damascus
were but a momentary truce
in an old feud. Far from grant-
ing the PLO room for man-
euver in Lebanon, Assad
decided to put paid, once
again, to Arafat's hopes of
creating a Palestinian "state-
within-a-state" in Lebanon.
The question is, why now?
Why did Assad wait until
Arafat had his pieces back in
place before acting against
him?
Assad has never made any
secret of his determination to
control events in Lebanon by
playing one faction off against
another, occasionally mobiliz-
ing members of his own
30,000-strong "peacekeep-
ing" force in Lebanon to
crush any faction that grew
too strong, too independent or
too ambitious for Syrian
comfort.
For six years, Assad has
watched as Arafat system-
atically restored his Lebanese
power base and according to
Israeli analysts, Arafat in-
vested "hundreds of millions
of dollars" in his efforts to

regain his influence in
Beirut.
He paid massive amounts
in baksheesh to Lebanese
middlemen to insure that
thousands of PLO fighters,
who had been scattered in
South Yemen, Tunis, Algeria
and Iraq, would be allowed to
return with their arms.
He poured money into the
PLO camps, set up small fac-
tories, businesses, news-
papers and other enterprises.
"It cost him a small fortune,"
said one analyst.
One widely held view is
that the Syrian leader acted
now precisely because of the
success of the intifada, fear-
ing that the PLO leader
might be tempted to translate
his success into concrete
political gains and agree to
participate in an interna-
tional peace conference.
The unequivocal message
from Damascus, delivered by
the foot soldiers of Abu
Moussa, is that the Pales-
tinians are not independent
agents. They are subservient
to Syrian interests and con-
trol, and Assad will not
hesitate to use his very con-
siderable clout to bring them
into line if necessary.
Israeli analysts point also to
Assad's deep and abiding
hated for Arafat. "Assad
regards Arafat as a cheat, a
liar who doesn't stand behind
his agreements," says Tel
Aviv University Middle East
specialist Dr. Yossi Olmert.
"Assad would strangle Arafat
with his bare hands if he
thought he could get away
with it."
It is unlikely, though, that
Assad would let his heart rule
his head in such matters. His
personal animosity towards
Arafat no doubt contributed
to the routing of the PLO
leader's supporters from
Beirut, but there is another,
more important, factor which
contributed to the timing of
the move.
Assad's long-term plan is to
rule Lebanon by remote con-
trol, which means having a
man in Lebanon's presiden-
tial palace who is sensitive to
Syria's needs and demands.
The next presidential elec-
tion in Lebanon is due some-
time before September 23,
and the move against the
Arafat loyalists is likely to
have been part of Assad's
campaign to set the stage for
that momentous event.
At that point, it would be
highly embarrassing if disso-
nant (Palestinian) voices were
raised in the Lebanese capital

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