Saudi Arabia and other Arab oil producers bankrolled the Islamic Intifada against the Soviets in Afghanistan (some $1 billion in 1985-6), but would not finance the Palestinian Intifada of 1987-92 and the current PLO war on Israel. The October 2000 Arab Summit committed itself to a $1 billion aid to the PLO, but delivered only $30 million by April 2001. King Fahd purchased a yacht for $150 million, and Qadaffi spent $300 million on the celebration of the 10th anniversary of his regime, but all Arab countries account for less than 6% of the $300 million annual budget of UNRWA, which administers the welfare of the Palestinian refugees. The US provides $100 million annual aid to the PLO (channeled through the PLO-controlled PA and NGOs), more than all Arab countries combined!
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Palestinian issue has never topped the Arab Agenda. Arab military forces never shed blood on behalf of Palestinians. But, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Shiite and Christian militias in Lebanon shed much Palestinian blood in their brutal confrontations with the PLO. According to Arafat’s deputy, Abu-Mazen, “Arab forces entered Palestine in 1948, supposedly, to protect the Palestinians, but instead they abandoned them, forcing them to leave their homeland, caging them in prisons similar to Jewish ghettos.” (PLO’s monthly, Filastin A-Thawra, March 1976).
Dr. Meir Pa’el, a very dovish Israeli historian, determined that the 1948-49 war was fought by the Arabs in order to prevent, rather than to advance Palestinian sovereignty. The Arab League dismantled the Provisional Palestinian Government, Egypt expelled the Palestinian leadership and took over Gaza, Iraq conquered Samaria, transferred it to Jordan, which annexed Judea & Samaria (“The Expropriation of Palestinian Rights, By The Arabs, In 1948-49”). The 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars erupted independent of the Palestinian issue. The 1982 PLO-Israel War in Lebanon never expanded into an Arab-Israeli war. In 1982 the Syrian military fought ruthlessly over its foothold in Lebanon, but refrained from fighting over PLO strongholds, which were swept by Israel. The 1982 war erupted in June, the PLO was expelled from Beirut in August, but the Arab Summit on behalf of the PLO convened only in September 1982! Moreover, in 1983 Syria – bankrolled by Saudi Arabia – eradicated PLO positions in northern Lebanon, evicting the organization from Tripoli.
The current PLO-Israel war will not ignite an Arab-Israeli war. An examination of Arab policy since 1948 demonstrates that Arab priorities have systematically focused on the internal and inter-Arab fronts. They have showered upon the Palestinians positive rhetoric, accompanied by indifferent, loathsome or hostile action. Would Mubarak risk US foreign aid and military assistance and the stability of his regime? Would Assad sacrifice his inadequate military force and the Alawite regime on the altar of Arafat, a most detested rival of his late father? Would King Abdullah rush to the rescue of the PLO, the primary threat to the Hashemite Family?
The PLO has enjoyed overwhelming Arab rhetorical support, but very limited operational, financial and diplomatic assistance. Arab regimes have used the PLO (and its groupings), in order to advance their own – rather than PLO’s – agenda. More Palestinians have been killed, expelled and arrested, by Arabs, than by Israel, since The PLO has brutally violated scores of agreements signed with Arab regimes, earning notoriety for its treachery, savageness, terrorism, unreliability and corruption. Arafat was chased out of Egypt in the late 1950s due to subversive activities. He was expelled from Syria in 1966 after murdering a few Syrian military officers. Arafat’s 1970 violent attempt to topple King Hussein, caused the expulsion of the PLO from Jordan and the Black September Massacre of thousands of Palestinians. During the 1970s he turned peaceful Lebanon into the most turbulent spot in the Mideast, triggering the 1975 Syrian invasion of Lebanon and the Black June 1976 Massacre of Palestinians by Syria. Further subversive attempts in 1983 led to the expulsion of the PLO, by Syria, from Damascus and from Tripoli, Lebanon. His 1983 expulsion from Tripoli, by Syria, was accompanied by more bloodshed. In 1990 Arafat spearheaded Iraq’s rape of Kuwait, which was followed by the expulsion of 400,000 Palestinians by Sheikh Sabbah.
Arafat is welcome in Baghdad, but he is persona non-grata in Kuwait. Arafat, the ally of Saddam, Khomeini, Ben-Laden, Hizballah, Hamas, No. Korea, Cuba and the deposed dictators of E. Europe has been unwelcome in Riyadh. Arab leaders prohibit PLO personnel from bearing arms on their soil. They do not conclude agreements with Arafat, who has not missed a chance to abrogate an agreement violently. However, that which is obvious in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Damascus has not been comprehended, yet, in the US and Israel.