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Note: The line between a terrorist organization and a legitimate government can be very thin. Which side you end up on depends a lot on your PR.

The not-so-recent death of Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, is a case-study of an opportunity lost. The Taliban (presuming it wants to step over into legitimacy) would have done well to learn from the Palestinian Authority, in the case of Yassir Arafat.

images-1On July 30, 2015, the Afghan Government announced that its arch-enemy, Taliban leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, was dead … long dead: April 2013, in a Pakistan hospital. The Taliban, having left the PR coup to its foe, grudgingly acknowledged Omar’s death and appointed a new leader, Hoozat bin Howzat. That was it, and, with Donald Trump in full-spate, the world immediately lost interest.

On October 12, 2004, Yassir Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, became ill.Unknown-10 His condition deteriorated and, in late October, he entered a French hospital and fell into a coma. He died November 11, having ruled the front-pages for a month.

Granted, Omar was more reclusive than a Yeti, and Arafat a paparazzi’s dream, showing up at weddings and bar mitzvahs. But the Taliban had two years-plus to work the world into a Where’s Omar frenzy.  Bupkus. They didn’t understand that the worst PR is no PR, that the second-worst is a thumb in the public’s eye, and the best, a gossamer web of double-talk that befuddles and bedazzles, exactly what the Palestinian Authority understood back in 2004, in daily — sometimes hourly — updates:

Contrary to reports to the contrary, President Arafat is not dead.

President Arafat remains not dead.

President Arafat is still not dead. He is not in an irreversible coma.

President Arafat continues to remain not dead. He continues not to be in an irreversible coma.

President Arafat continues not to be among those who can be accurately described as non-living, nor those who can be characterized as in an irreversible comatose state.

If President Arafat could accurately be called sentient, which he is not, we would characterize him as continuing his valiant struggle to remain not dead. This is not to say that he is not not dead, but rather that, to characterize him as “struggling” logically requires that he be sentient, which he is not. I hasten to add, however, that he continues not to be irreversibly non-sentient.

President Arafat remains non-sentient.

It is my sad duty to tell you that President Arafat can no longer be described as being non-irreversibly non-sentient. This is not to say, however, that he is not not dead yet. When I use the term “yet,” I should not be interpreted to be implying that he is irreversibly on a course to becoming non-dead.

President Arafat’s condition, which had appeared to be improving slightly, has now been determined to have improved only marginally. This marginal improvement has had no effect on his not being non-irreversibly non-sentient but non-dead.

President Arafat’s marginal improvement has marginally reversed course and can now be described as having almost imperceptibly deteriorated. He is, of course, still non-dead.

It is my painful duty to inform you that the doctors have not disconfirmed the not inaccurate report that President Arafat has become irreversibly non-sentient. This, however, is not inconsistent with his being in a non-dead condition.

To clarify, President Arafat remains non-dead.

It is my tragic duty to announce that President Arafat’s condition profoundly deteriorated last night and he became not non-dead.

To clarify, President Arafat is no longer non-dead.

President Arafat remains not non-dead.

The doctors have determined that President Arafat’s not non-dead condition is irreversible. This is, therefore, our post penultimate update. Thank you.

I rest my case.

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