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     APRIL 1998      


Did Arafat's Troops
Crush Iraqi Dissidents?

Herbert Zweibon

When Iraqi dissidents speak of the intifada, they are referring not to the mass Palestinian Arab rioting against Israelis that began in late 1987, but rather the failed revolt by Shi'ite Iraqi dissidents against the regime of Saddam Hussein in March 1991. There is, however, a disturbing link between the Shi'ite rebellion and the Palestinian Arabs, a link that is just now coming to light.

A lengthy account of the 1991 revolt against Saddam, which is now circulating among Iraqi dissidents in the United States, makes a passing reference to something that is evidently common knowledge among Iraqis but virtually unknown to Americans: the role played by Yassir Arafat and the PLO in the brutal suppression of the Shi'ite rebellion.

"Palestinian militias" were instrumental in stomping out Saddam's foes, the report notes. It says that "the PLO militias were involved in the takeover of Najaf" --a Shi'ite stronghold decimated in the crushing of the revolt-- and comments: "They are the same soldiers policing Gaza and the West Bank, still donning their Tikreeti mustaches"--a reference to the Saddam-style mustaches that are popular among Arafat's secret police.

Although Arafat's close friendship with Saddam is well known, the possibility that he sent his troops to wipe out Iraqi dissidents would be a significant revelation. But it would not be entirely surprising. After all, this is the same Arafat who sent his elite soldiers to Rumania in 1989 to fight against pro-democracy rebels who were trying to topple the Ceausescu regime.

This is also the same Arafat whose agents aided in the Iraqi conquest of Kuwait in 1990. According to the Jerusalem Post, the PLO played a "critical role" in "facilitating the Iraqi military conquest of Kuwait and President Saddam Hussein's subjugation of the country." The Post revealed (in August 1990) that "much of the logistical planning for the Iraqi invasion was based on intelligence supplied by PLO officials and supporters based in Kuwait." In addition, "when Iraqi forces entered Kuwait City, intelligence officers were already equipped with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all key
civil servants, industrialists and oil engineers in Kuwait, thus enabling the country to continue functioning almost without missing a beat." The information had been provided by the PLO. Thanks to Arafat, when the Iraqis arrived, they "went straight to their homes, picked them up, and ordered them to go to work," said an Arab diplomat quoted in the London newspaper Independent.

If Arafat and the PLO did indeed do Saddam's dirty work against the Shi'ites in southern Iraq in 1991, U.S. policymakers should sit up and take notice. Such behavior by Arafat gives a good indication of the kind of regime that will emerge if the State Department continues its campaign to bring about the creation of a de facto PLO state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza--it will be brutal, and it will be closely aligned to Saddam Hussein.

A PLO state will also have close ties to Iran. Arafat regularly visits Teheran, where he is warmly received. The Iranian government already arms and finances Islamic Jihad and other terrorist gangs in Arafat's territory, as a U.S. District judge confirmed in the recent suit against Iran by the family of terror victim Alisa Flatow. One can imagine the kind of Iranian weapons that will flow into "Palestine."

The Clinton administration must re-evaluate its Mideast policy, lest it end up serving as midwife to what may well be the most anti-American regime in the world.

Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.


The Sudetenization of Palestine ...3

Iraq's Nuclear Threat, Then and Now ...7

Lebanon: Fighting the Good Fight ...8

Who's Guarding the Promised Land? ...10

April 1998               - 1 -               Outpost


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