SEATTLE -- The buzz in the media about the "power struggle" between Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas (also called Abu Mazen), is misleading. The issue at stake is not simply the drive for power.

Yes, there is a kind of power struggle, but this is not your typical Third World quarrel between traditional and rebellious leaderships. Nor is it simply a scuffle between a leader representing the conventional chain of command and a vibrant new leader.

Both Arafat and Abbas are old, the former educated in Cairo and the latter in Moscow during the Soviet age. Moreover, Arafat is elected, and despite his ups and downs, he is still respected among Palestinians, while Abbas' popularity stands at 3 percent, equal to a survey's margin of error.