Morning Report: October 28, 2004

Arafat's condition serious. At this hour, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat remains in grave condition after periods of losing consciousness. Officially his illness is described as the flu and a gallstone. After a telephone conversation between Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Arafat received permission to leave his compound for medical treatment; the Israeli government added that he would also be permitted, unconditionally, to return. However, Arafat will not leave the West Bank, but will travel to a hospital in Ramallah. Although Israel approved Arafat's travel abroad, Egypt and Jordan were reluctant to accept responsibility for Arafat's care. Currently, PA officials are stepping back from discussing post-Arafat plans lest they appear overly eager for the leader's departure.
CNN: Arafat heading to RamallahDebka Bulletin
Strategic Forecasting

Russia denies explosives claim. Russia has denied allegations that its special operations personnel were involved in the disappearance of high-explosives weapons from Iraq's al-Qaqaa facility south of Baghdad. In a Washington Times article on al-Qaqaa which appeared Monday, Bill Gertz reported that 'Russian special forces troops moved many of Saddam Hussein's weapons and related goods out of Iraq and into Syria in the weeks before the March 2003 U.S. military operation'. But a recent ABC report on al-Qaqaa alleges that 'Iraqi officials may be overstating the amount of explosives reported to have disappeared' from the facility, based on documents in ABC's possession. More as this story develops.