However, even after our success against al-Qaeda, the administration has backpedaled on one of the best-known terrorist networks. Yassir Arafat and the PLO routinely aid and protect terrorists and have probably sponsored much terrorism directly.
This is what makes it so puzzling that the U.S. is willing to treat Arafat as a legitimate leader and as a peace partner for Israel. With close ties to both Iraq and Iran, Arafat is as much a member of Bush’s “Axis of Evil” as Saddam Hussein is. And if the Bush Administration were consistent and principled, it would treat him as such.
Certainly, Saddam Hussein is of greater concern for American foreign policy because of the direct danger he poses to America’s interests. And though it may not be in America’s immediate interests to remove Arafat, he shares the same views and abides by the same ideas that the Iranian and Iraqi leaders do.
Therefore, if we are to destroy all the terrorist networks—and not just al-Qaeda—we not only need to “reform” Iran and Iraq, we also have to prevent Arafat from building and using his terrorist network.
At each point in this long, deadly dance called the Middle East peace process, Arafat has resorted to violence and terror in attempts to improve his bargaining position. And Arafat has continually failed to prevent Hamas and Islamic Jihad from operating.
Furthermore, his spokesmen often voice the true goal of Arafat and the PLO. The West Bank Leader of Arafat’s Fatah, Marwan Barghouti, told the New Yorker in July 2001 that complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza would not end the conflict. The late Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem, Faisal al-Husseini, gave his support for a “Palestine from the river to the sea” in the al-Safir newspaper in May 2001.
Arafat has always sided with the Arab tyrants, lest we forget his unwavering support for Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War. And now Iran and Iraq supply arms and money for Arafat’s terrorist activities.
So if Arafat is so obviously an ally of the “Axis of Evil,” why doesn’t the Bush Administration treat him as such? The answer lies in the lack of a principled, consistent foreign policy.
The U.S. thinks it needs to look fair in the Middle East, and so it treats Arafat as the equal of Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon. Sharon is certainly no teddy bear, but he is a democratically elected official of a rights-respecting nation where both Jews and Muslim, men and woman can vote and live freely. Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, are about as democratic and rights-respecting as Hussein and Iraq.
The U.S. should be objective and fair in its dealings with the Middle East, and indeed the entire world. To be objective, the U.S. must deal honestly and openly with the facts as they are. This means treating Arafat as the terrorist leader that he has shown himself to be time and time again.
To be fair means to treat like as like, and unlike as unlike. This means treating Israel as our ally and friend that she has always been, and Arafat and the PLO as members of the “Axis of Evil.”