In war or withdrawal, Sharon marched to his own drum
JERUSALEM (REUTERS) - A maverick in war and politics, Israel's Ariel Sharon reshaped the Middle East in a career marked by adventurism and disgrace, dramatic reversals and stunning rebounds.
Loathed by many Arabs and a divisive figure within Israel, Sharon left his mark on the region as perhaps no other through military invasion, Jewish settlement building on captured land and a shock decision to pull out of Gaza.
A commander in the army from the birth of Israel in 1948, he went on to hold many of the top offices of state, surviving fierce debate over his role in refugee camp massacres in the 1982 Lebanon war to be elected prime minister in 2001.
Famously overweight, he suffered a stroke that put him into a coma in 2006, when he was at the height of his power, and died on Saturday without ever apparently regaining consciousness.