Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, November 08, 2004

Is Arafat Dead?
I may be proved horribly wrong here, but I think that Yasser Arafat may well have been brain-dead for the last three or four days. The veil of secrecy around his condition, as well as the decision, and abrupt cancellation of said decision, of a Palestinian delegation to visit his Parisian hospital, just seems to me like the remaining leadership of a country on the brink of civil war buying time.

The skill of Arafat in keeping all of the notorious warring Palestinian factions under his control has been extensively documented, and his departure after 40 years of leadership leaves an incredibly volatile power vacuum in the Palestinian State. No wonder the Palestinian leadership has been locked behind closed doors trying to work out a safe succession in order to keep the various militant groups from attempting to take control.

The sudden death of Arafat would have left them no time to consult with the factions and attempt to build a coalition of Palestinian leadership. This makes me wonder then, is all this uncertainty about the definition of his "very complex" state of health a smokescreen to offer Mahmoud Abbas more time?