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General Petraeus recommends withdrawal from Iraq, but later

The promised movement of the delegates to Beirut refers to the depth of the crisis in Lebanon, while the initiative of the House Speaker Nabih Berri, which is considered as an outlet for the solution, is still waiting for the final answers.
The press also focused on the testimonies of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker before the Congress on the conditions of the US occupation forces in Iraq.

| Beirut (Lebanon)
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An Event and a Regional Trend

The qualitative operation carried out by the Palestinian resistance in Gaza by bombing an Israeli camp in Neguev, which hit 67 Israeli soldiers, takes place in a noisy climate that the Israeli decision-making circles face on ways of dealing with the affairs of the Strip and the growing of the new Palestinian resistance cells and active groups. The Israeli coordination and cooperation with the Palestinian authority did not succeed in dealing a deadly blow to resistance, and that is expressed by the repeated invasions against Palestinian areas, the last among them is the violent battle that is taking place now in Jenin between the resistance and the occupation troops.
The Israeli occupation returns to the first square while leaders of the security organs and intelligence and some circles at the ministry of defense think that it is useless to invade Gaza again or to bet on eliminating resistance. Some analysts recalled today the experiences of the occupation in the Wet Bank and Gaza Strip to deduce that there is no solution except evacuating the colonies and leave Gaza within the framework of the unilateral engagement plan. This means that Olmert and Barak will not succeed in experiencing what was already experienced.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

House Speaker Nabih Berri’s threat to withdraw his initiative has pushed political and press circles to feel the danger of the campaigns launched by representative Walid Jumblatt and leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea and a number of the Loyal representatives against the initiative since launching it. Meanwhile, representative Saad Hariri’s stand towards the initiative is ambiguous.
What if Berri withdraws his initiative? This is the question which is posed by the Lebanese public opinion. The answer became clear, because the political climate is charged with the elements of conflict even before Berri’s speech in Baalbek.
Some loyalists justify their reservations by claiming that they are avoiding the danger of the constitutional vacuum through clinging to the quorum of the half plus one, and that dropping this condition will be axiomatic if the sides agree on the president. The opposition said these reservations about the danger of the vacuum should be through responding to Berri’s initiative on the basis of submitting to the constitution in the issue of the quorum and in the issue of forming the unity government that the opposition proposed as a framework for national partnership to protect the country from the danger of conflict.
However, political and press circles look forward to expected visits by Arab and foreign delegates, especially the visit of French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. In addition to this, the circles follow up the return of warmness to Cairo-Riyadh-Damascus triangle.
It is difficult to assert if things will move to solution or to conflict and it seems that the area will face the danger of the open wars of president Bush and prime minister Ehud Olmert, while some European capitals, which feel the danger of the fires in the east, accelerate their efforts to reach compromises,

Arab and International Press

International Press Agencies said that commander–in-chief of the US forces in Iraq General Petraeus said in his testimony before the congress that Iran launches a proxy war in Iraq through the Shia militias.
Al-Sahrq Al-Awsat said Qatar mediated to evacuate the families of Fatah Al-Islam fighters from Nahr Al-Bared and to move them outside Lebanon.
Arab and international Press said Israel closed completely the Palestinian lands under the pretext of fearing operations in the Israeli depth.
Al-Ahram said in its editorial that condition in Iraq have changed into an internal crisis in the US between the administration and the congress.
Al-Khaleej said the Russian movement towards the Arab area at this current stage is very important.
The British press focused on the Iranian issue, wondering when the will the conflict start, pointing out that the conflict with Iran is going to take place due to its nuclear program.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said the mystery of leader of Fatah al-Islam group Shaker Al-Absi became a big political issue.
An-Nahar said the Saudi ambassador returned to Beirut and that the French foreign minister Kouchner is optimistic concerning reaching an opportunity for dialogue.
Al-Akbar said House Speaker Berri intends to withdraw his initiative if the agreements on it are conditional.

Television Station’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Beirut will witness a condensed political movement this week that covers the visits of European and Arab envoys.
The NTV wondered about the location of Fatah Al-Islam leader after the DNA tests proved that the corpse at Tripoli hospital does not belong to him.
The NBN said: March 14 forces will hold a meeting to define their stands towards Berri’s rescue initiative.
The LBC wondered if Shaker Al-absi’s mystery is a result of an intelligence operation.
The Future said: Lebanon will witness this week a condensed diplomatic movement, which will deal with the presidential merit.

Attached documents

 
GAO Report
(PDF - 4.1 Mb)
 
 
Jones Report
(PDF - 4.3 Mb)
 
 
Petraeus Report (slides)
(PDF - 966.3 kb)
 
 
Petreus report
(PDF - 54.3 kb)
 

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.

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