A Welcome at Downing Street for The Grand Old Man of Terror

The heartiness with which British prime minister Tony Blair received Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, the Methuseleh of the terror business – at the peak of the Western alliance’s war on terror – epitomizes the innate PR weakness of that war. In his foreshortened Middle East trip last week, Blair visited Hosni Mubarak in Cairo and inspected British troops committed to fighting terrorism in the Gulf emirate of Oman. But he was forced to skip Riyadh. The Saudi rulers told him he would not be welcome. Maybe that snub was pleasanter than the brushoff the Iranians administered his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, last month in Tehran.
Britain’s efforts to win Arab friends for the US-led coalition against Afghanistan and Osama Bin Laden, thus met with slammed doors in two key Persian Gulf states. But Blair, loath to accept defeat, was determined to prove that the Tomahawk missiles British submarines were shooting at Afghanistan and the bombs UK warplanes were dropping on the Taliban, know the exact difference between terrorists and Muslims. To demonstrate his thesis, he invited Yasser Arafat to 10 Downing Street and showed him how much he sympathized with the Palestinian cause. Insufficient sympathy was the pretext the Arab rulers dredged up for refusing to join the US war against terror. To prove them wrong, Blair went the whole way by not only calling for a Palestinian state to rise soon, but addressing Arafat as President of this as yet unreal entity and hailing him as a moderate Arab leader. Moderate?
Disregarding the Palestinian leader’s three decades as the world’s most innovative terrorist until the advent of Bin Laden, the British prime minister must surely have been informed that only ten moths ago, in January 2001, Arafat personally invited to Gaza – and later to the West Bank – the finest terrorist-cum-guerrilla minds of the Lebanese Hizballah, a group which has ranked long and high on the US State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Those Hizballah activists were especially training in their craft at facilities in northern Iran at the hands of instructors under the direct command of Imad Mughniyeh, who is on the American list of the 22 most wanted terrorists in the world.
Those highly-trained terror operatives went to work with a will as soon as they arrived in Palestinian areas, working to the guidelines they received from the future president of the future Palestinian state. Their task was to train agents of Arafat’s security bodies – especially the services run by Muhamed Dahlan and Muhamed El Hindi in the arts of building powerful car bombs, putting together suicide teams, the correct mix for explosive belts strapped to those suicides’ bodies, the use of mortars and the storming of military positions and settlements.
Up until the moment he stepped into the drawing room of 10 Downing Street, the “moderate” Palestinian leader had not detained a single Hizballah militant or even interrupted the jobs he gave them to do. Neither has he arrested any of the more than 100 Hizballah-trained Palestinian terror activists, wanted for a whole range of murderous actions against civilians.
Arafat is viewed with contempt by his fellow master-terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, who has branded him with other Arab leaders as depraved and corrupt. After his photo op with Arafat, the British premier picked up the phone and called Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem, to assure him he had a personal promise from the Palestinian leader to give up terrorism.
As they talked, Palestinian attacks – at the rate of 30-40 a day since Arafat declared his “ceasefire – built up towards another night’s of violence: mortar shells dropped in the Gaza Strip, gunfire on army positions and civilian cars in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and the nightly hail of anti-tank grenades was directed against the Israeli position guarding the Israel-Egyptian frontier at Rafah – and all before midnight. Blair may choose to believe Arafat; Israel cannot afford to, knowing from painful experience that his promises have nothing to do with his performance.
Even Bin Laden is onto his game.

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