Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


Arafat and al-Jazeera: Manufacturing Trouble

by Elliott Abrams
December 26, 2013


This week Russian experts added their voices to those of French experts who had examined Yasser Arafat’s remains to determine if he was poisoned.

“French experts have ruled out a theory that Yasser Arafat was killed by poisoning,” AFP reported several weeks ago. Now BBC reports that “Announcing its conclusions on Thursday, the head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency (FMBA), Vladimir Uiba, said ‘Yasser Arafat died not from the effects of radiation but of natural causes.'”

But the third team, the Swiss, came to a different conclusion–that Arafat might have been poisoned. The striking thing about the Swiss “investigation” is that it was inspired and financed by al-Jazeera. The report itself is on al-Jazeera stationery, and the opening lines reveal that the entire thing was invented by al-Jazeera. At al-Jazeera’s web site, here, huge amounts of attention are devoted to proving that Arafat was poisoned. There are an amazing 41 “news” stories and documents listed under the headline “Al Jazeera Investigates: Killing Arafat.”

The other teams were not bought and paid for by al-Jazeera and they reached the opposite conclusion. In fact this recent hullabaloo about how Arafat died represents not new science or new evidence, but an effort by al-Jazeera to create trouble. It is yet another proof that al-Jazeera continued to operate in 2013 without the restraints of a normal news medium and should not be regarded as one. The government of Qatar –which owns al-Jazeera– changed during this year; there is a new emir and some speculation that he will rein in Qatari foreign policy. Thus far he has not reined in al-Jazeera, and its pretensions to be a Middle Eastern version of CNN or BBC should be rejected. This entire Arafat/poisoning affair shows us that al-Jazeera continues to pursue political goals and to manufacture what it hopes to persuade us is “news.”



Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    Al-Jazeera manufactures conspiracies as easily as their buddy Al Gore .

  • Posted by William Hughes

    Smallwood, you’re on to something. Why would a liberal watch Fox News? BBC? Full of MI-6 baloney!!

  • Posted by Professor Watson

    Abrams article is misleading. In the interest of FULL disclosure, “Paris, France – The Swiss scientists who found “moderate” support for the theory that Yasser Arafat was poisoned with the radioactive element polonium 210 have challenged findings by French investigators.

    In the French report, which has not been made public but was reviewed by the Swiss, investigators reportedly found similar levels of polonium 210 as the Swiss did.

    While the Swiss suggested that these heightened levels may provide moderate support for the theory that Arafat was poisoned, the French said the polonium levels were a result of naturally occurring radon gas in Arafat’s tomb and that the Palestinian leader died of natural causes. On Thursday afternoon, Francois Bochud, director of the Institute of Radiophysics in Lausanne, gave an interview to Al Jazeera in which he said that the French had found similar levels of polonium 210 in Arafat’s remains. However, he noted that his team, unlike the French one, took radon measurements from the tomb.”For us, radon could be ruled out because actually we did measure radon in the tomb before opening it, and the values we found were about the same as we would find in any tomb,” Bochud said. “Actually, it was a bit lower than what we could expect in normal soil. For us, radon is really an explanation that cannot be used.”

    French investigators did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.”

    Read the article for yourself.

  • Posted by art

    A good thing al gore sold his broadcast network to al jazeera. Gore even gave them his seal of approval. Gore took his money and ran. Opened the US to al jezeera propaganda. Sadly I did vote for Gore and abhorred the Court decision

  • Posted by Elliott

    Prof Watson, the big problem is with polonium which has a short half-life, about 134 days. How could polonium be traceable on his body or personal effects/clothing now given that he died in 2004? For any polonium to still be present and traceable in 2013 or 2012 for that matter, it would have had to be a huge amount to begin with in 2004. If polonium was found on his clothing, it was most likely planted there by his widow Suha who was in possession of the deceased’s effects until given to the three labs in 2012.
    Suha has her own reasons for promoting the polonium radiation claim. But I agree with Elliott Abrams about Al-Jazeera’s motives.

  • Posted by Carson

    This website was… how do you say it? Relevant!!
    Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Many thanks!

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required