Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen, is the current President of the Palestinian Authority, succeeding Yasser Arafat after his death in 2004.
Abbas was born in 1935 in the town of Safed in what was then northern Palestine and today Israel. During the War of Independence of 1948, Abbas fled with his family to Syria, where he received a law degree from Damascus University. He later obtained a Ph.D. in history in Moscow. The topic of his dissertation – the relations between the Nazis and Zionist leaders during the Holocaust – has led to accusations that he is a Holocaust denier, which he rejects. From Russia, Abbas moved to Qatar, where he began to work with Palestinian groups.