After Arafat; Strategic Insights: v.1, issue 3 (May 2002)
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Israel's assault on West Bank Palestinian towns throughout April 2002 and its even longer siege and then occupation of Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's presidential compound in Ramallah, have raised legitimate questions about how long Arafat will remain in power in Palestine. After all, Arafat is already older than King Husayn of Jordan and Hafiz al-Asad of Syria were at the time of their deaths in recent years, and Arafat has suffered from a number of physical ailments, particularly since his near-fatal plane crash in Libya. In addition to the ravages of time, Arafat must also worry about assassination attempts, either from Palestinian dissidents or Israeli commandos. Even as the siege of Arafat is coming to an end, the questions of his physical longevity and of political succession in Palestine only intensify. The intent of this essay is not to predict which personality will eventually succeed Arafat, but rather to outline some of the major issues that will define the succession process when it occurs.
This article appeared in Strategic Insights (May 2002), v.1 no.3