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US Foreign Policy and the Middle East

Miles Seeley, who spent his career in the Middle East and North Africa, writes: "Siegfried Ramier makes a common error in assuming Arafat could do much more to stop violence than he has done. He is severely limited by the strength of his forces vs the Hamas and others, and by the political reality that if he tries to crack down too hard on militants without significant new peace offers from Israel, he will be ousted, with no other leader in sight. I think Sharon makes it much more difficult by blowing up Palestinian police and security stations, and by bulldozing civilian homes.

When I was in Amman, Jerusalem was the hot point. When I was in Saudi Arabia, it was also the biggest issue. Probably the right of return is a political ploy, a bargaining point, but the settlements and Jerusalem are not. Whether Arafat really blew it by rejecting Barak's bargaining points is unclear to me, since I do not have the details on what exactly was proffered.

Sharon plays into the militant's hands. The harder he strikes, the harder their resolve. I don't understand why this is not widely seen. The suicide bombers and their supporters are not "logical," they are fanatical, and they gain support when ordinary citizens are hit harder and harder.

The problems are not new, and the solutions as difficult as ever to imagine".

My comment: In Jerusalem today Hilary Clinton placed the blame entirely on Arafat. World opinion said she was playing up to her New York electorate and expressed disgust.

Ronald Hilton - 2/24/02