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Thursday, August 17, 2006

And they call it, puppy love....

The next time you get one of those spam letters from Suha Arafat asking you to help her save her fortune, delete it immediately. And it looks like Suha won't be kissing Hillary Clinton anymore either. Suha Arafat, widow of Yasser Arafat, secretly married Lahasn al-Trabulsi, the brother-in-law of the Tunisian president, a number of days ago, a Tunisian website reported.

But is this really puppy love? The marriage followed a persistent wave of rumors in Tunisia, according to which al-Trabulusi planned to marry Suha's sister. However, credible sources said that he divorced a few months ago to marry Suha and not her sister, and that one of the main reasons for the wedding is his interest in Suha's large fortune. Well, why else would anyone marry Suha?

Two years ago, after Arafat's death, Mahmoud Abbas' staff promised Suha that she would receive USD 22 million a year, on the basis of the amount that Arafat sent his wife while on his death bed – USD 11 million to cover her lifestyle in Paris for half a year.

Abbas and Palestinian senior figures were forced to make a deal with Suha, after she "created facts on the ground," in accordance with French law, and prevented PA members from visiting Arafat as he was dying, or to take decisions on disconnecting the life support machine, until she received her promise. Senior officials in the 'Palestinian Authority' concluded that it was worth paying her and ending the episode.

The money given to Suha comes from the "secret fortune" of the 'Palestinian Authority', managed personally by the 'Palestinian Authority' president, currently the 'moderate' Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen. The fortune is worth around USD four billion, and is kept in a number of bank accounts – in Tel Aviv, London, and Zurich. The 'Palestinian Authority' has complained over the last several months of a 'humanitarian crisis' in the Gaza Strip, and has insisted on foreign aid to alleviate that crisis.

Since Arafat's death, Suha has refused to live in 'Palestinian Authority' territory or in any Arab capital other than Tunis, and enjoys close relations with the Tunisian president and his wife. This is probably a rational decision - there are probably a lot of 'Palestinians' who would like to see her dead.


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