The twenty-first century has witnessed major conflicts all around the world, especially in the Islamic world. And in these conflict-ridden regions emerge great leaders, like Yasser Arafat and Tawakel Karman, who received the internationally acclaimed award—the Nobel Peace Prize…
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Looking at the life and works of these leaders shed light on the reasons why they were chosen to receive the prestigious award. Arafat and Karman were both activists who spent much of their time, resources, and effort to promote the interests of their country and their people. This essay discusses and analyzes the achievements of Yasser Arafat and Tawakel Karman. The discussion also includes an analysis of their lives, challenges, goals, and values. And most importantly, this essay makes a comparison between these two great leaders. Yasser Arafat: The Audacious Liberator Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat was born in Cairo on August 24, 1929 (Rubin & Rubin 14). In Cairo, the teenage Arafat was illegally transporting weapons to Palestine which was at the time in opposition to the Jews and the British. During the conflict between the Arab countries and the Jews, Arafat dropped out of school to participate in the war against the Jews in the Gaza territory. The Arab defeat and the formation of the state of Israel severely frustrated him. Regaining his commitment and motivation and preserving his vision of an autonomous Palestinian society, he came back to the university to study engineering but devoted much of his effort, resources, and time as head of the Palestinian students (Rubin & Rubin 16-18). In 1956, he successfully acquired his degree, worked for a short time in Egypt and afterward relocated to Kuwait. He was hired in the public works agency and profitably managed his own contracting business (Rubin 38). He used all his free time in political movements. In 1958 he and colleagues formed Al-Fatah, a secret complex of underground chambers, which in 1959 started to distribute a publication supporting armed struggle against Israel. Arafat decided to abandon Kuwait in 1964 to become a permanent activist, mobilizing Fatah incursions against Israel (Rubin & Rubin 49). That same year the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed, which was supported by the Arab League, uniting several organizations all struggling to liberate Palestine for the Palestinian people. The Arab countries preferred a more peaceful strategy, but after their failure in the Six-Day War against Israel in 1967, Fatah surfaced as the most mobilized and most influential of the organizations within PLO (Rubin 93). In 1969, it acquired the group when Arafat became PLO Executive committee’s chairman. The PLO was eventually removed from its role as a dummy of the Arab countries. Arafat expanded the PLO into a state with its own armed forces. But the PLO was eventually driven out from Jordan when King Hussein became troubled its guerilla raids on Israel and other hostile activities (Rubin 108). Arafat tried to form a similar group in Lebanon, but was expelled by an Israeli military attack. Yet, he continued the organization by transferring its center of operations to Tunis (Rubin 108). He spent much of his time travelling to advance the Palestinian objective, always maintaining the secrecy of his campaigns. The years after the eviction from Lebanon were a depressing moment for the PLO and Arafat. Afterward, the intifada campaign motivated Arafat by raising the awareness of the world about the struggle of the Palestinian people. In 1988 a policy reform occurred. In an address at a UN conference in Geneva, Switzerland, he proclaimed that the PLO abandoned terrorist activities and advocated “the right of all parties concerned in the Middle East conflict, to live in peace and security, including the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbors” (Rubin 110). The possibilities of a peace treaty with Israel now became an
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