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Arafat's death: New start in Middle-East
November 18, 2004
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's death has occasioned commentary from around the world that alternates between veneration and condemnation.
Whatever one's viewpoint, his passing away represents an enormous opportunity not just for his people but also for a genuine attempt at solving the Arab-Israeli conflict and possibly have worldwide implications for terrorism.
Glossed over, is the fact that there was never a quid pro quo with Arafat not once having said anything in
The irony is that Abu Amar, as he liked to be known as, was tepidly welcomed across the western border. While formal Pakistani support of Palestinians extended to universal support of UN resolutions in their favour, a shift occurred in the run-up to the Gulf War of 1991.
While Arafat's isolation among fellow Arabs may have reached its apogee during the Gulf War he rebounded quickly and emerged almost unscathed with the onset of the
With Arab and Western financial support in free flow, Arafat did what comes naturally to him. Never known to shy away from biting the hand that feeds him, he misappropriated billions from the free flow of funds both from wealthy Arab nations as well as
The last ten years have seen billions of dollars flow to the Palestine Authority with much of it going unaccounted for into a sink-hole. Estimates of Arafat's personal fortune vary from $2.5 billion to $6 billion and even the French government, never wanting when it comes to providing cover for the world's richest terrorist, is actively investigating the millions of dollars that ended up in his wife's account over the past couple of years.
Despite the considerable scrutiny of his opaque finances that will very likely follow his death it is unlikely that anyone will ever get a full accounting of the stolen billions. What is worse, there is virtually no probability of a much needed war-crimes trial to account for the thousands who perished in the name of his Palestinian cause but in reality were victims of his maniacal ego.
What is worse than the lost money and even lives is the opportunity cost to millions of Palestinians and, indeed, to a host of other nationalities due to bloody conflicts that have festered thanks to him.
If there is a singular lesson to be learnt from decades of dealing with the world's second longest one-man dictatorship, it is that it represents an awful alternative to democracy. The
Vijay Dandapani is a New York-based commentator