An hour after Ariel Sharon branded Yasser Arafat as ‘an enemy of the free world’ China’s hard-line Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxan, roused from his sleep his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, with a blunt warning that there will be serious consequences if Mr. Arafat is harmed.
The call to Peres came after Arafat had managed to speak to Beijing on his satellite phone late on Saturday night. The PLO leader had appealed for help. He made a similar call to a number of European leaders. All declined to condemn Israel’s present tactics.
China’s open intervention is the first public evidence of what Mossad, the CIA and other intelligence services have established. That China has seized on the deepening conflict to further establish itself in the region.
Those sources say through surrogate states like Iraq and Yemen, China has already supplied arms to the PLO. These have been smuggled down through the Bekaa Valley in South Lebanon into Israel.
Others may have been brought in over the Golan Heights.
“With China behind us, we can expect Sharon to think again about what he does. And it will be the same in Washington,” said Said Arikat, a senior aid of Arafat.
Peres, a renowned dove in the Sharon Cabinet, is reported by Beijing sources that he would inform Israel’s prime minister of China’s view.
Hours before, in a secure-line telephone call from President Bush, sources close to Sharon claimed that Israel has been ‘given the green light to take Arafat out of the equation any way that it thinks right.’
That call came after Mossad had monitored urgent discussions by military commanders in Damascus and Teheran. They centered on military preparedness should the present violence escalate. Mossad’s chief, Efraim Halevy, has told Sharon he expects it do so in the coming days.
Already Israeli aircraft have attacked Hezbollah camps in south Lebanon in the past forty-eight hours. The camps have been identified as training centers for suicide bombers.
In the past forty-eight hours the three principal groups from which suicide bombers have come have formed a terror coalition to plan a concerted campaign in the coming days.
Israeli intelligence sources have said there may be as many as thirty suicide bombers waiting to strike inside Israel. In the past week over 50 Israelis have been killed in such attacks.
Since the present conflict started last September, the number killed totals 396 Israelis, along with 1,145 Palestinians. ___
Gordon Thomas is a writer on intelligence for a number of leading European newspapers (the Sunday Express, UK; El Mundo, Spain; Welt am Sonntag, Germany). His work is also syndicated internationally by World Wide Syndication. Any use of the above must carry a clear attribution to both Gordon Thomas and Globe-Intel. He is a Contributing Editor to Globe-Intel, an international newsletter devoted to intelligence matters.