Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Arafat and Abu Mazen have reached an agreement on the composition of the Cabinet: Abu Mazen will be both Prime Minister and Internal Affairs Minister while Dahlan will serve as a special advisor on security. This seems like a cosmetic compromise giving Abu Mazen exactly what he wanted. Al-Jazeera (the English site is down) strongly implies that only Egyptian pressure brought this about. I take this as further evidence of what I said following Crown Prince Abdullah's peace plan of a year ago - the Arab leaders have decided to sideline Arafat. The removal of their support has really been his main undoing. Also interesting is this article by Haaretz which suggests the real fight was over the disarmament of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. I couldn't find the results of this dispute, but if true it could be interesting. Masad has said before that that group is now taking its orders regarding Israel from Iran, their chief arms supplier, and by-passing Arafat. As I notice a growing band of Iranian influence stretching from Herat to Jericho, this could if true be an important regional development beyond the Israeli-Palestinian controversy.

Also, the Washington Post is reporting that the Defense Department dudes have realized the Iraqi Shi'ites might be important. Let's all let out a Bronx cheer for our multi-billion dollar defense planning people.

I would comment on the NHL play-offs, but the result was too predictable. My Blues have made the play-offs something like 24 years in a row, only to get bounced early. In my 14 or so years as I hockey fan, I've seen them in the Conference finals exactly once. It's hard to get psyched up for the first round anymore. Anyway, my Western Conference allegiance is now transferred to the Minnesota Wild until the summer.

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