APART from Iraq, the biggest loser in the Gulf crisis has been the Palestine Liberation Organization. Frustrated by the absence of Western support and failure of their own three-year uprising to gain concessions from Israel, Palestinians had rallied to Saddam Hussein's Arab-nationalist standard months before the invasion. Loyalties were cemented when the Iraqi leader pledged to link resolution of the Kuwait issue with settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute.
PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat's backing of Saddam consolidated Palestinian support, but alienated the international community. Supporting Saddam also cost millions in financial aid from Gulf states. The PLO was abandoned even by Saddam, who in signing onto the Soviet peace plan, dropped linkage to Palestinian rights.
Arafat retains popularity with his people, but his influence with the Arab masses may be marginalized, while hopes for Palestinian statehood have been dealt a severe blow.