Relief is perhaps the best way to describe the private reaction of most Arab officials to the sudden and somewhat ambiguous death of Yasser Arafat, the icon of the Palestinian struggle for the past 40 years.
In public, before their own constituencies, these same officials laid on what they felt obliged to provide: a red carpet funeral. Most major Arab leaders and senior representatives were on hand in Cairo to pay their last, and somewhat belated respects to a man they had largely forgotten during his nearly three-year siege in Ramallah.
But beyond the honours of a brief state funeral, Arafat received very little recognition from his fellow Arab leaders. Official statements eulogising the Palestinian leader sounded more like a simple notification of another death, rather than any genuine outpouring of grief at the loss of a revolutionary hero.