eining in Aral-at
President Assad in attempting to jjeaken PLO leader Arafat'e control over the Palestinian movement and align kim more closely
Assad is upset with Arafat for not consulting Damascus in advance on key matters such as accepting tho cease-fire in Lebanon in July and his discussions with French Foreign Minister Cheysson in Beirut last month. Even before the Cheysson visit, Assad showed hisby ordejj_ng Arafat to close- several Fatah offices
has threatened to stop indefinitely j! ipments through Syria for the PLO inove that would deny the Palestinians their principal conduit forsupplies.
Damascus is also tightening its control over the pro-Syrian Saiqa Palestinian organization and encouraging the smaller groupshe flq to oppose Arafat's free-
Syrians are encouraging Fatah dissident Abu Nidalterrorist operations to discredit Arafat andhis policy of limiting such operations to IsraelIsraeli-occupied territories.
The Syrians fear that Arafat, left unchecked, mightay toialogue with the US and withArabs on the Palestinian question, without reference to Syria. They are determined to bring the PLO under Syrian control, because they view their leverage over the Palestinians as the principal bargaining chip in any future negotiations for the return of the Golan Heights. |
Arafat has sought to preserve his room for maneuver iv moving some military assets in Lebanon to areasdf Syrian control and by stressing the PLO's intentioncontinue importing arms through Lebanese ports.
>oTTt^caT^pressur^Dy^arawi ng closer toArafat's Fatah group, moreover, has contactsSyrian dissidents and, if relations deteriorate .rther. ^oold aid the anti-Assad Syrians.