Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat flew to the Middle East yesterday claiming he had thwarted the mutiny in his Fatah faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization. There was no indication from the rebels, however, to back the claim, The Associated Press reported.
In Damascus, a Libyan-backed Palestinian guerrilla faction rejected any dialogue with Arafat unless he changes his policies. A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said the group knew of no plans being proposed for the reconciliation of Arafat loyalists and the rebels, who demand more influence in the running of PLO affairs. The group is one of eight factions under the umbrella of the PLO.
After a four-day tour of Romania, Saudi Arabia and India, Arafat told reporters as he left New Delhi: "It is not the first time that the Libyan president Col. Muammar Qaddafi has tried to interfere in our internal affairs. But our freedom fighters have foiled his conspiracy and defeated it." Libya has announced its support of the rebels.
Arafat's top security aide, Abu Iyad, reported in Moscow that Soviet leaders pledged solid support to Arafat's leadership as well as "the necessary political support and all other support we might need."
Arafat during his brief tour also got a public endorsement from King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The monarch, opening a new airport in Jeddah, expressed appreciation for the presence of Arafat, "on whom we pin great hopes," and said, "We and the PLO are moving within the same framework." Endorsement by Fahd was considered important because Saudi Arabia is a major financial supporter of the PLO.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces turned back at least 100 trucks carrying food supplies and merchandise from Beirut to Sidon, the provincial capital of southern Lebanon, in the wake of a strike Monday protesting Israeli occupation. An Israeli Army spokesman, said the trucks were turned back because "they don't have the licenses to bring truckloads of goods."