Will Osamah Bin Laden Benefit from Arafat’s Death?
My opinion piece on the implications of Arafat’s passing for al-Qaeda has appeared at Newsday. Excerpt:
“Arafat’s secular nationalism was supple enough to compromise with Israel and to imagine a two-state solution, even if the road of negotiations remained rocky. The continued Israeli colonization of the occupied Palestinian territories during the 1990s helped, along with terrorist attacks by radical groups such as Hamas, to derail the peace process, which Sharon had always opposed.
Arafat’s death creates a vacuum in Palestinian leadership that will not soon be filled. Sharon’s assassination of major Hamas leaders has also weakened authority structures in that party. If the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership cannot find a way to reinvigorate the peace process, cells of radical young Palestinians may grow up that look to bin Laden for their cues.
Even if local Palestinian leaders remain strong enough to keep al-Qaida out, the festering Israeli-Palestinian struggle remains among the best recruiting posters for al-Qaida with young Muslim men. Resolving this conflict would be the most effective weapon the United States could deploy in its war on terror.”