Terrorists in Search of Unity

The current talks between Jordan and the Palestinian terrorist organizations held in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, may lead to a further deterioration in relations between the terrorist organizations themselves according to Middle East experts here. Of the five major Palestinian organizations, three are not taking part at all. One of them is the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine headed by Dr. George Habbash which has claimed responsibility for the hijacking of several airliners. It is a leftist organization which has links with the Peoples Republic of China.

Another organization which is not represented at the Jedda conference is the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a break-away group from the PFLP – headed by Nayef Hawatmeh who is not even a Palestinian but a native of the Jordanian town of Salt on the east bank of the Jordan. It regards itself as being still more to the left than the group headed by Dr. Habbash. Its international exploits have been less spectacular and less damaging than those of the PFLP. The third group styles itself the Front for Arab Liberation. Its headquarters is in Iraq and it operates under the auspices of the Iraqi Army.

On the other hand, the El Fatah group headed by Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Army of Liberation commanded by Yihia Hamoudeh, have come to Jedda and their leaders themselves have been taking part in the negotiations. These two work closely together and are generally regarded as different organs of the same body. Also represented are the Syrian commanded Al Saiqa Irregulars whose exploits since the Six-Day War have been directed mainly against Lebanon in an unsuccessful attempt to subvert that country and overthrow its regime. Incidents on the Golan Heights involving Israelis on the other hand are usually the work of regular Syrian troops.

CHINA SOUGHT AS ALLY

Saudi Arabia which favors an agreement between the terrorists and Jordan has the means to exert pressure on both. The major part of the funds used by the terrorists to purchase arms and food comes from oil rich Saudia. Jordan’s King Hussein gets not only money but also political support in the Arab world from King Feisal and is, therefore, also vulnerable to pressure. However, if an agreement is indeed reached–and many agreements have been reached to be broken almost as soon as they were signed–this will cause a still deeper rift between the Palestinian groups who are signatories to it and those who are not.

It may also signal a still deeper penetration of Communist China into the area. Dr. Habbash will almost certainly call on his Far Eastern ally to thwart a Jordanian-Palestinian agreement which in his view can only serve the aims of imperialism. Thus, if there is no agreement. King Hussein may find himself under increasing pressure from other Arab countries purportedly representing Palestinian Interests. If there is agreement at Jedda on the other hand, the Palestinians will turn against one another as well as continuing to strive for Hussein’s downfall, an aim they have not given up despite pacts and promises.

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