Abbas’s Exit Turns Page to Fresh Palestinian Violence

It took Yasser Arafat 100 days to knock over the linchpin of the Aqaba peace strategy plotted by US President George W. Bush and Israeli premier Ariel Sharon at the Jordanian Red Sea resort; Abu Mazen aka Mahmoud Abbas submitted his resignation as Palestinian prime minister on Saturday, September 6, for lack of any other option.
Arafat’s blow was a double-headed one, striking at two key sections of the Bush administration’s master-plan: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iraq.
The statistics of the ill-fated Abu Mazen experiment are horrendous – in 88 days from the June 6 Aqaba summit up until Saturday September 6, 64 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists and more than 1,000 wounded, i.e. 0.7 dead and more than 10 injured victims per day. It is hard to imagine any government continuing to base its policies – especially one that declares the security of its citizens paramount – on the regular slaughter of its citizens day after day by a declared enemy. This state of affairs is not a matter of political viewpoint. Placing the home front in harm’s way makes the battle front more vulnerable. When the enemy is permitted to strike at will at civilian towns and villages, it means the front line is wide open and national defenses are in tatters.
This lesson the Americans first understood on September 11.
In Iraq, the statistics begin on May 1, when President Bush declared the combat phase of the Iraq War at an end. Since then, 65 Americans have died in enemy attacks, i.e. 0.6 per day in 118 days.
The Americans now admit that the anti-US resistance in Iraq is not confined to Saddam loyalists, but is an orchestrated Arab-Muslim guerrilla campaign sustained by a stream of foreign fighters mostly from Syria and Iran and including a heavy influx of al Qaeda terrorists.
Israel knows that the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure controlled by Yasser Arafat is fed by the same sources; most of the ammunition, explosives, trainers for suicide and mega-terror techniques, comes from Iran, largely through Lebanon, from al Qaeda and from Syria. But because the Bush government has chosen to leave these sources of the Arab-Islamic campaign waged against US troops unscathed, so too have Ariel Sharon and his government refrained from destroying the Palestinian infrastructure nurtured by that same Arab-Muslim Trio.
It is no secret that Israel’s campaign of targeted assassinations and preventive operations against the Hamas barely scratched the surface of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure. This restraint was explained by the need to bolster Abu Mazen’s standing and hopes that he and his internal security minister Mohamed Dahlan would finally do the job.
In fact, Israel’s selective counter-terror tactics actually weakened the former Palestinian prime minister. The Hamas was not his enemy, but Arafat, while the most massive terrorist infrastructure was not the one built by Hamas but the one based on his Tanzim, Fatah and al Aqsa Martyrs (Suicides) Brigades. Israeli forces concentrated on hitting the Hamas and scarcely touched Arafat’s forces, allowing them to gain strength. When Palestinian politicians saw Arafat getting away with his buildup and with pulling support away from Abbas, they deserted the prime minister in droves leaving him with no choice but to quit.
Abu Mazen’s downfall is not his alone; neither is it a passing episode. His debacle spells the crash of any foreseeable prospects of Palestinian-Israeli progress towards a peaceful settlement. His removal leaves Bush and Sharon face to face with Arafat and the violent offensive he is preparing to loose. Gone is the artificial buffer presented by the flimsy Au Mazan-Dahlan administration. Since Israel forces were restrained from striking at the foundations of Arafat’s military strength, the next Palestinian-Israeli war is likely to be more violent and bloody than the previous rounds.
This prospect is bound closely to events in Iraq and the global war on terror.
Until mid-August, the watchword of Islamic jihadist radicals was “Palestine Tumadikun!” – We march on Palestine! – there to prevail over the Israelis and the Americans. Since then, a new slogan has taken over: “Iraq Tumadikun! – We march on Iraq! – there to prevail over the Americans and the Israelis.
The combination of emblems on the cover of a new booklet published by al Qaeda says it all: the Sword of Islam cutting through a US-Israeli flag montage with a American military truck in flames below the text.
As debkafile wrote some days ago, the final Islamic-US battle lines run through “Palestine” to Iraq. This has always been the political, national, strategic, tactical and terrorist doctrine guiding Arafat’s every step; it was naive to imagine he would be thrown off course by a lightweight bureaucrat like Abu Mazen.
The right-wing ministers of the Sharon government are now speaking up loudly in favor of expelling Arafat. They are too late. With Abbas gone, he can finally make his dream come true of standing on the same pedestal as Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Capturing Arafat, killing him or sending him into exile will not undo his handiwork. He has used the phony ceasefire attained by the departed Palestinian prime minister to manufacture a terrorist machine on a national scale that is closely linked to Tehran, Damascus, Beirut and al Qaeda and has its own built-in mechanism for automatic operation, with or without his pushing buttons.
The Economic Aspect
Ten years after the 1993 Oslo Framework Accords were signed by Israeli and the Palestinians, the theory at the bottom of their conception is still current, that the Palestinians can be weaned away from terrorism by investments that improve their standard of living and provide them with decent medical and education services. This might have worked had the vast sums of international aid funds – $16 bn in a decade – been spent on these laudable goals. In actual fact, the money was sunk into fabricating the mightiest terror machine every seen and the lining of its masters’ pockets. Yasser Arafat’s great national enterprise since 1983 has been to build a terrorist empire on the West Bank that outstrips the terrorist kingdom ruling the Gaza Strip.
This week, the White House informed the US Congress that an estimated 50 to 70 billion dollars would be needed for Iraq’s reconstruction. This investment is supported by circles in the US who believe that the easing of the guerrilla war will open the door for more and more American companies to get involved in the Iraqi market and so produce profits that will benefit Iraq and bring business to the American economy.
This assumption fails to take two realities into account.
One, efforts to ensure the regular production of Iraqi oil and its flow to export markets have thus far been stymied by sabotage. Every time repairs are completed, Arab-Islamic guerrillas blow a fresh hole in a main pipeline or start a new fire. Output has not gone beyond 600,000 barrels per day, which barely covers local and US military consumption. Export targets that would cover American war costs of $1bn per week are out of sight.
Two, notwithstanding all the international efforts to divert aid funds to the Palestinian people, the bulk of Palestinian Authority revenues still passes through Arafat’s hands and provides him with his war chest for funding his terrorists. There is no guarantee that funds invested in Iraq would not likewise reach terrorist hands.

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