Medical report vague about cause of Arafat's death

Nasser Al Qidwa, Yassser Arafat's nephew, is not being very clear about what he found out from the medical report:

After receiving the medical report on his uncle's death, Qidwa said there was still no clear cause of death and the poisoning theory could not be ruled out definitively, even though there was no clear evidence of it.


"I have not had the time to study the report and obviously I am not competent because I am not a doctor," he said Monday.


"But two central points remain. There is no clear diagnosis of the reason for the death, and second the toxicological tests were made and no known poison was found."


Qidwa, who is also the Palestinian representative at the United Nations (news - web sites), was expected to deliver the 558-page report to a Palestinian ministerial committee which is looking into the causes of Arafat's death on November 11.


"A question mark remains for us because of the lack of a diagnosis," Qidwa said. Asked about poisoning, he went on: "I am not excluding this but not asserting it either. There is no proof."


This is the mystery that simply won't go away. I think the poison theory, which was always dubious, can be dismissed since the tests found nothing, but it's really rather surprising that a 558-page report delivers no clear picture of what happened. More likely, he's not telling. One more thing:

Last week doctors who treated Arafat at a French military hospital outside Paris were quoted in the authoritative daily Le Monde saying he died of a blood clotting disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).


If that's what caused the death, then there is a cause. So why is Qidwa saying it's inconclusive?


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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.