YASIR ARAFAT: A Political Biography

Barry Rubin, Author, Judith Colp Rubin, Author, Judith Colp Rubin, Joint Author . Oxford Univ. $28 (354p) ISBN 978-0-19-516689-7

In this sober account, two veteran writers on the Middle East (The Transformation of Palestinian Politics) catalogue Arafat's career from his student days in Cairo through his years as the head of a violent nationalist movement, to his surprising emergence as the internationally respected leader of the Palestinian people. The authors offer strong evidence not only that Arafat has a long history of duplicity, but more interestingly, that he has repeatedly made gross errors of judgment. He got his organization "kicked from Amman to Beirut and then to Tunis" for stirring up trouble in his host countries, sided with Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War, and has consistently made military miscalculations, as he did in 1970 against Jordan's King Hussein. The writers sometimes stray from their lawyerly tone, most speciously when they attempt to connect both Arafat and Iran to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. Suggesting that Iran (the source of arms bought by Arafat) is "allies to a degree with the forces of Usama bin Ladin" without so much as a footnote undermines their credibility somewhat, but does not alter their central point—that Arafat is a bad leader and a worse peace partner. The authorsargue that Arafat retains behind-the-scenes power, but with Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas sworn in, Arafat's perceived importance may be waning. A useful chronology and glossary of names and political movements is provided. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 392 pages - 978-0-19-518127-2
Open Ebook - 395 pages - 978-1-4294-2074-7
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