"Arafat Making Military Pact with Syria"

By Aaron Lerner

The following is a translation of an article which appeared in the 26 September issue of the Amman newspaper "Sot Elmaraa."

Informed Palestinian sources revealed, that a military agreement was signed these days between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Syrian government. The agreement calls for the two sides to act together in the case of a threat, in particular on the Lebanese front, the area of conflict which includes a number of Arab states and international elements.

The agreement is described by the sources as a gesture of the government and leadership of Syria to the Palestinian leadership. They point to the efforts of Israel to drive a wedge between Syria and the Palestinians and between Syria and Lebanon, which is in line with the talks over the permanent arrangement.

On this matter, Israel now has focused on the Syrian leadership, which is the uncompromising Arab side in the Arab-Israeli negotiations. The sources point to their uncompromising position, demanding Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights and South Lebanon , as per the Security Council Resolutions. Despite this, it does not appear that Damascus wants its position to be based solely on international legitimacy. By adding power to the (Palestinian) Authority, Syria aims at drawing to its side a number of Arab and international elements in order to improve its negotiating position vis a vis Israel.

Back to the military pact which was signed between the Palestinians and the Syrians: The sources emphasized, that it was reached under Egyptian support. Teheran was kept abreast of developments in order to avoid a Syrian-Iranian conflict in South Lebanon. It is expected that Iran will join the agreement after the completion of talks with the Palestinian leadership, which has not had relations with the Iranian government for years. In praising the agreement, the sources emphasized, that the Egyptian purpose is to bridge the gap between the Palestinians and the Syrians as a result of their distancing, which turned them into public enemies. With the advancement of the reconciliation, the Egyptian leadership is trying to confirm its position as a key country for pan Arab reconciliation.

The sources advised the newspaper's editors, that among the principle points of the agreement the Syrians proposed to the Palestinians via the Egyptians, that Palestinian units be reactivated on the Lebanese front, in particular those stationed in South Lebanon. The intention here is especially for camps under Fatah leadership. In any case, the Egyptian leadership considered the Syrian proposal to be a step in the right direction, which will bridge pan-Arab gaps. The Egyptians immediately forwarded the text of the Syrian proposal to Yasser Arafat, who considered it with his senior advisors../...Then Cairo was asked to present the full text of the Syrian proposal, and Egypt's opinion on the matter. The sources emphasized, that the Syrian document was incredibly balanced, as it emphasized that "the State of Syria will relate to the State of Palestine on equal terms." According to the agreement, the two states will increase their influence on Lebanon. There is also the need for the intervention of forces from Arab states, who are already located there in order to thwart the aggressive plans beyond the border, with the intention being Israel, and a allusion to Iran, which controls the Hizbulla as it wishes in order to enflame the Israel-Lebanon front.

According to the document, Arafat wanted to resettle his forces in Lebanon. Syria commits to supply the Fatah movement fighters in Lebanon with weapons with which the Israeli aggression will be repelled. The agreement supports the establishment of underground military cells, which will be the armed PA forces in Lebanon, and will be used to threaten the settlements in the Northern Galilee.

According to the document, the Syrians will be responsible for manpower and field support, which will be made available to the Palestinian cells. In addition, Syrian military experts will be responsible for the training of the members of the cells. Some will be sent to training courses in European countries, under the cover of being from the Syrian army. The agreement includes the establishment of a liaison section, which will be made up of senior Syrian and Palestinian intelligence officers, who will be stationed in Beirut, and will have branches in Damascus and Gaza. The three offices will maintain contact via cellular phones of the type used in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This circuit will directly connect Arafat and President Assad, and the cells will receive orders directly from the two leaders.

Sources close to Arafat reported that senior military officers initialed the agreement in a neighborhood of Beirut, before the upcoming summit between Hafez Al Assad and Arafat, whose purpose is the final signing of the agreement../..../.."Sot Elmaraa", Amman Jordan
26 September, 1996

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Translated by Dr. Aaron Lerner, Associate
IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

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