A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, November 8, 2013

The ‘Arafat Polonium Story

The renewed attention to charges that Yasser ‘Arafat may have died from exposure to radioactive polonium-210, following the exhumation of the remains and a study by Swiss scientists, is naturally drawing a lot of attention. You can find the Swiss forensics report here. The forensic study did not claim conclusive proof, but said that "our observations are coherent with a hypothesis of poisoning, in any case more consistent than with the opposite hypothesis." In any event, what had seemed to many like a wild tale has taken on new life, since it is unclear how both ‘Arafat's body and personal effects could have been exposed in any way other than deliberately. Still, the evidence is not absolutely conclusive, and at this remove (nine years), the evidence is somewhat muddled, and I have little new to add to the debate.

Unsurprisingly, Palestinian officials are blaming Israel, and Israel is denying everything. Of course, Israel was not the only party with reason to want ‘Arafat out of the picture. Clayton Swisher, who originally broke the story for Al Jazeera English in July of 2012, has an op-ed at The Guardian reminding us that many of the unanswered questions about the death might have been answered if the Palestinian Authority had cooperated with French investigators. (Full disclosure: Swisher is s former collealgue of mine at the Middle East Institute.) And this piece at Le Figaro (French) suggests that French intelligence may already know more than they have acknowledged.

We may never know what actually happened. But if we believe this story in The Egypt Independent,
Suha Arafat, widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, has called on Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to help find out the murderer of her husband during a telephone interview with Egyptian television channel, Dream.
She appealed to Sisi to take an interest in the issue and form an international committee to investigate.
I fear she's been reading Egyptian media about  General Sisi's abilities,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is there nothing that the dear, beloved, and all-knowing democratic, liberal and progressive of Egypt cannot do?

Nothing it seems.