U.S., Israel Agree To End Arafat's Regime

by DEBKAfile

21 September 2002

Israel’s military’s Operation Absolute, which has flattened building after building in Yasser Arafat’s government compound in Ramallah, is aimed at more than winkling out the 50 hardcore terrorist chiefs he harbors, or even retribution for the fresh wave of suicide terror he unleashed against Israel this week at the cost of nine Israeli lives. This operation was planned jointly in Washington and Jerusalem as a strategic step in the military and intelligence preparations that are bringing open war on Iraq very close.

It has exposed to the light of day a manifestation that DEBKAfile’s counter-terror sources began noting in early 2001; Arafat’s intelligence machine, which runs his terror arms – Fatah, Tanzim, Force 17 and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - is partially manipulated and financed by Saddam Hussein’s military intelligence.

Arafat’s associate terror arms, such Hamas, Jihad Islami, Popular Front, are controlled and funded by Saudi and Syrian interests and the Hizballah. Iraqi military intelligence is strongly present behind the scenes.

The factor most troubling to US war leaders and the Israeli government is the information that Saddam has managed to smuggle a set of chemical and biological weapons to Arafat’s operatives, especially the ones commanded by General Intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi, who doubles as al Aqsa commander. It is also feared that Iraq has been allowed to plant its undercover agents, armed with weapons of mass destruction, including even radiological devices, among Arafat’s terror cells.

These discoveries and suspicions prompted Israel’s all-out operation to cut off Arafat’s links with the outside world and its efforts to lay hands on Tirawi and at least 10 other of Arafat’s top guns who shelter in his quarters. These men are believed to be in possession of the secret locations of the Palestinian terrorist rings harboring Iraqi agents and their weapons of mass destruction.

Smashing this Palestinian-Iraqi connection and its hub in Ramallah is regarded by the Americans and Israelis as the key to preventing Saddam mounting an unconventional warfare attack from Arafat’s terror base – and not only against Israel.

WMD strikes against Jordan too may be planned. US, Israel and Jordanian intelligence services have discovered the two conspirators are considering shaking King Abdullah’s throne in Amman – or even overthrowing him before the US military offensive against Baghdad gets going.

A general terror offensive in Jordan and Israel would, they believe cripple America’s rear bases in Jordan, hamstring the units operating in Western Iraq and disrupt the overland, air and sea routes linking them to the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Rooting out this hazard from its Ramallah source is the immediate objective of IDF Operation Absolute. But not the only one.

DEBKAfile’s analysts report three further goals:

A. Further narrowing down Arafat’s options and pointing him to his last remaining outlets. The systematic demolition of his compound in Ramallah leaves him surrounded with rubble, stripped of the trappings of government, destroyed its institutions, cut off his communications and unable to care for his most basic needs. His only resort is self-exile, either to the Gaza Strip, whence Israel has begun deporting terrorists, or an Arab country still willing to accept him – Yemen or Sudan.

B. Applying to Israel – even through such intermediaries as the Europeans or the Egyptians – for safe passage to the Gaza Strip would be tantamount to abdicating his rule over the West Bank. His favorite taunt for enemies would rebound against him: “If they don’t like what I’m doing, let them drink the waters of Gaza!”

C. Arafat’s disappearance from the West Bank would facilitate the establishment of Jordanian rule in line with the Bush master plan for remolding Middle East boundaries while fighting Saddam in Baghdad.

Jordan has set up its West Bank power base in Bethlehem, as DEBKAfile reported last month. The base is secured by the Palestinian Liberation Army Al Badr unit of the Jordanian army, which is loyal to the Hashemite crown. As soon as Arafat is out of Ramallah – or even stranded high and dry in the last remaining building of his headquarters – Jordan will pump more troops into the West Bank, including Ramallah. But Israel tanks will not lift their siege or relieve his isolation. Operation Absolute will go on to the end. In the event of a standoff, Israeli troops already filling the passageways to Arafat’s rooms will break in and forcibly extract Tirawi and other wanted terror ringleaders, leaving the leader in solitary isolation attended by no more than two or three close aides.