Middle East

Arafat’s widow tried to leave Palestinian leader ‘hundreds of times’

In this 2004 file photo are the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his wife Suha. (AFP)

BEIRUT: The widow of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says she tried repeatedly to leave her husband, only to be refused the request, admitting she loved the Palestinian leader but also had regrets.

“I know there were a lot of women that wanted to marry Arafat. However, it was my fate ... I tried to leave him hundreds of times, but he wouldn't let me,” Suha Arafat told the Turkish Sabah newspaper in an interview published Wednesday.

“Everyone knows how he wouldn't permit me to leave. Especially those in his servitude, they know very well what it was like,” she added.

Arafat admitted she regretted the marriage to the Palestinian leader, who died in 2004, citing the constant gossip centered on her.

“Yes, I am regretful. Even when he was with me, I was forced to defend myself. I was slaughtered by gossip against me,” Sabah’s English-language website quoted her as saying.

“What they would say didn’t even seem to be about me, it was as if they were talking about someone else,” Arafat added.

Describing herself as “the weakest link,” Arafat said her husband’s battle with Israel spurred the gossip targeting her.

“It [gossip] actually all began due to the uprising [intifada] against Israel. Yaser was fighting against the strongest lobby, media and nation, in other words Israel. I was the weakest link,” she said.

Although pained with bearing the Arafat name, the widow said she was nevertheless proud, adding: “Even if I regret my marriage I have no other choice than to except reality.”

Arafat said in hindsight her decision to marry the Arab figure was a mistake.

“If I had known what I would have to go through; I definitely would not have gotten married.”

“I was with a great leader, but I was all alone,” she added.

She said that although life with the Palestinian leader was difficult, “my life without him is even harder.”





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