- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

Having already endured more of the requisite humiliations visited upon U.S. peacemakers visiting the Arab world, Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to continue his surreal Mideast "peace" mission today in Damascus and Beirut. Since arriving in Morocco on Monday, Mr. Powell has been on the receiving end of one sucker punch after another from terrorist thugs and "moderate" Arab states.
In Morocco, Mr. Powell received essentially the same treatment that Secretary of State Warren Christopher received a few years back in Damascus, when President Clinton's hapless envoy was left cooling his heels for a few hours waiting for an audience with Syrian dictator Hafez Assad. Morocco's King Mohammed VI kept Mr. Powell waiting for a while, then publicly chastised him by suggesting that he was wasting his time in Morocco and should be in Jerusalem securing Israeli concessions for Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Meanwhile, America's Saudi Arabian friends raised upwards of $56 million in a telethon to benefit Palestinian "martyrs" (i.e., the families of suicide bombers and just about anyone else claiming to be a victim of Israeli perfidy). On Saturday, the Saudi ambassador to Great Britain published a poem praising suicide bombings.
After Mr. Powell made it to Jerusalem on Thursday, he was greeted the following afternoon by another terrorist attack, when a teenage Palestinian terrorist affiliated with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a terrorist group controlled by Mr. Arafat and his Fatah organization, blew herself up at a market in downtown Jerusalem, killing six Israelis and wounding at least 80. Mr. Powell declared that he would not meet with Mr. Arafat unless he issued a statement in Arabic condemning Friday's terrorist outrage, which was committed by his own operatives. On Saturday, Mr. Arafat issued a statement condemning Friday's attack. The same statement, however, also condemned "attacks targeting civilians from both sides" (slanderously implying that Israel was committing similar atrocities) and accusing Israel of committing "brutal aggression" and "massacre" by attempting to capture fugitive terrorists operating out of areas controlled by Mr. Arafat. But, in a desperate effort to salvage whatever is left of the Oslo peace process, Mr. Powell pronounced himself satisfied and met with Mr. Arafat yesterday.
Before visiting Mr. Arafat, Mr. Powell traveled to northern Israel in order to view the deteriorating situation there; over the past two weeks, the terrorist group Hezbollah, which could not operate without the backing of Iran and Syria, has staged daily attacks from Lebanon, firing scores of mortars and rockets into northern Israel. On Friday, the Hezbollah rocket fire was so intense that Mr. Powell cancelled a scheduled visit to the Israel-Lebanon border. If Mr. Powell is to achieve anything useful during his visits to Syria and what is effectively its western province, Lebanon, he will need to read the riot act to the new Syrian dictator, Bashar Assad, making it clear to him that he will go the way of the Taliban if he stays in the business of supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah.
But, if Mr. Powell's handling of the Arafat problem is any indication, there is little reason for optimism on this score. During meetings with U.N. and European diplomats last week, Mr. Powell "added his name to the standard pro-Palestinian myths and slogans, excusing terrorism as justified by 'occupation' and ignoring the history of attacks before 1967, as well as Ehud Barak's unprecedented proposals at Camp David," Israeli strategic analyst Gerald Steinberg wrote yesterday in the Jerusalem Post. "All of these actions provided Arafat and his terrorist infrastructure with a lifeline."

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