Today in Historical Perspective: August 24

Yasser Arafat, is the pen name of Muammad Abd al-Raf al-Qudwah al-usayn, also known as Ab Ammr. ( born 24 August 1929 in Cairo, Egypt)

He died November 11, 2004, in Paris, France, President (1996-2004) of the Palestinian Authority (AP), President (1969-2004) of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and leader of Fatah, the PLO’s largest electoral groups. In 1993 he led the PLO to a peace agreement with the Israeli government.

Arafat – A Memoir of a Lifetime

Arafat was one of seven children of a wealthy merchant and was related by blood to the prominent al-Hussaini family, which through his father and mother played an important role in Palestinian history. A key figure in opposition to Zionism during the British Mandate). In 1949, Arafat began studying civil engineering at King Fuad University (later Cairo University) in Cairo.

He claimed to have volunteered in the first phase of the Arab-Israeli war (1948-1949) and fought again with the British in the Suez Canal in the early 1950s. – Years of life – controversial. In Egypt, he joined the Palestinian Students Union and served as its president (1952-1956). He was also associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and in 1954 Arafat was imprisoned as a Brotherhood sympathizer during the crackdown that followed the assassination of one of its members, Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. After his release, he completed his studies and received an engineering degree in July 1956. Arafat later enlisted in the Egyptian army and served on behalf of Egypt during the October 1956 Suez Crisis.

Fatah’s Establishment

After Suez, Arafat went to Kuwait to work as an engineer and set up his contracting firm. In 1959 he founded Fatah, a political and military organization with associates such as Khalil al-Wazir and Khālid al-Ḥassan.

At that time most Palestinians believed that the liberation of Palestine would come as a result of Arab unity. Central to Fatah doctrine was the notion that liberation was primarily the business of Palestinians. This notion was anathema to the Pan-Arab ideals of Nasser and the Egyptian and Syrian Ba’th parties.

Arafat and Fatah prepared for armed struggle as early as 1959; carried out its first armed operation in Israel from December 1964–January 1965. After 1967, Fatah and the fedayeen (guerillas operating against Israel) became the focus of Palestinian mobilization.

Arafat was named chairman of the executive committee of the PLO in 1969. The PLO was created in 1964 by the Arab League in Jerusalem. It was under the control of the Egyptians until then. Arafat and Fatah were the main players in the organization, but others were also involved.

After 1967 most of Fatah’s forces were based in Jordan, where they launched attacks against Israel. King Hussein put an end to the PLO presence in Jordan in 1970. Fatah moved to Lebanon after Black September and remained there until 1982.

In July 2000 Clinton convened a summit at Camp David in northern Maryland. The aim was to find a final agreement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after five years of Palestinian self-rule. The Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt had been negotiated in 1978.