Undermining the War on Terrorism: The Role of Yasser Arafat and the Syrian Regime

, October 19, 2003

Vol. 3, No. 7

 

  • As long as Yasser Arafat remains the sovereign of the Palestinian entity, there is not the slightest chance for real peace. Peace, for Arafat, means one big Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Iraqi desert – including Jordan, the West Bank, and Israeli Arabs.

  • The Oct. 4 bombing of a Haifa restaurant that killed 21 people was carried out by Islamic Jihad. Without Syria’s support, it would be very difficult for this terror organization to function. The policy is decided in Damascus and the infrastructure in the territories carries out this policy.

  • Israel’s retaliatory strike on the Ein Saheb base – an operational terrorist camp 15 kilometers from Damascus – hit no Syrian targets, only the training camp of known terrorist organizations.

  • Syria’s main efforts now are designed to cause total failure of the United States in Iraq and to increase terror inside Israel. Syria used to be a base of terror against Jordan and against Turkey; now it serves as one against Iraq. Bashar Assad is continuing a Syrian tradition.

  • The Syrian government claims that its army is incapable of preventing the smuggling of terrorists and weapons through Syria to Iraq. When it comes to the Syrian-Turkish border, however, the Syrian army is very efficient. Why? Because Turkey threatened to destroy Syria if the cross-border terror didn’t stop. Turkish methods of persuasion were successful.

 

The Palestinian Challenge

Israel today faces two main and immediate challenges. First is the Palestinian challenge. As long as Yasser Arafat remains the sovereign of the Palestinian entity, there is not the slightest chance for real peace. He still believes in the combination of terror, as a tool to

About Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad

Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Amos Gilad is Director, Policy and Political-Military Affairs and Chair, Security Relations with Regional and Strategic Partners of the Ministry of Defense; former Coordinator of Government Operations in the Territories, former Head, Military Intelligence Production Division; former Spokesperson, Israeli Defense Forces; former Acting Military Secretary of the Prime Minister and Defense Minister.