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Exchange of captives by Hezbollah and Israel

The press focused on president Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates, which was considered as the beginning of the Arab movement after Damascus’s summit. Damascus denied any Qatari mediation with Saudi Arabia and Egypt saying that the visit of the prince of Qatar to Damascus was limited to improving the atmospheres and exerting efforts to implement Doha agreement. Syrian sources revealed to al-Hayat paper that the Libyan leader Muammar Khadafi is working to hold a minimized Arab summit in Tripoli in June 10 and that president Bashar al-Assad will participate in this summit.
The press also focused on scandals of the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and revealed that the foreign minister Tzipi Levni was a Mossad agent. The press also talked about the communications for forming the new Lebanese government and the deal of exchanging captives between Hizbullah and Israel, which resulted yesterday in releasing the captive Naseem Nisr in return for the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in the July war of 2006.

| Beirut (Lebanon)
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An Event and a Regional Trend

Arab diplomatic sources said that important steps will appear in the field of Arab-Arab relations due to the initiatives that president Bashar al-Assad, the head of the Arab summit, coordinated with the prince of Qatar during their recent meeting. The Qatari side is active on the Saudi and Egyptian line and on the level of the Palestinian file in order to rearrange the Arab house after stormy years.
President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to the United Arab Emirates and his coming visit to Kuwait take place within the framework of a tour that covers a number of Arab states that aims at purifying Arab atmospheres and facing the common challenges dictated by the Palestinian condition.
The Egyptian-Saudi summit took place yesterday within the framework of consultations between the two countries while the press information said the two sides discussed a proposal that Saudi Arabia received from Qatar related to the relations of Saudi Arabia and Egypt with Syria.
Experts believe that there are internal Saudi difficulties that require reviewing the kingdom’s previous policies and opening a new page in the foreign policy that starts with admitting the changes in the area on the level of Syria’s benefit and options and preparing for post-Bush era. On the Egyptian level, it is clear that the Egyptian president corresponds to the Saudi considerations and waits for practical steps between Riyadh and Damascus before opening the hotlines from Cairo. Experts said this resulted from internal factors related to the Egyptian regime and are not related to any problem between Egypt and Syria.

An event and a Regional Trend

- 1. The remarkable event was Hizbullah’s surprise concerning the exchange of captives and releasing the captive Naseem Nisr in return for the remains of the Israeli soldiers, who were killed in the war of 2006. The press said the return of Nasr indicates that there is a comprehensive deal for exchanging captives between Hizbullah and Israel.
- 2. Communications in the corridors accelerate to form the new government amid the desire of president Suleiman to accelerate the process and announce the new government before the expected visit of the French president Sarkozy to Beirut on Friday. The following indicators appeared in this respect:
a) The Lebanese army announced that the criminal, who exploded the army center in the north, is from the Gulf states and was killed in the outskirts of Ain al-Hilweh camp. The security sources said he might be a member in a security network that works in Lebanon.
b) The president will name the interior minister and the defense minister and he may name the minister of justice to solve the dispute on this position. The press said there are negotiations on the shares of the blocs and the names of their candidates for the ministerial positions, and it turned out that there are some existent complexes, because the loyalists did not answer Hizbullah’s demand to replace two ministers of his share with a Sunni and a Druze minister from the opposition. The press said representative Saad al-Hariri refused this idea in principle while Jumblatt did not decide yet accepting the participation of Talal Arsalan in return for Hizbullha’ giving up of one of his ministers. The gravitations focus on the sizes and positions among the loyal teams concerning the Christian seats due to the spiritual challenge which resulted from general Aoun’s naming of five ministers, including four portfolios according to the press.
- 3. The indicators refer to the increasing anxiety of the loyalists due to the acceleration of the international and regional developments, which pressurizes towards openness with Syria; this was manifested in dealing with the statements of the German foreign minister, who focused on the priority of improving Lebanese relations with Syria. For his part, president Suleiman talked about his determination to improve these relations, hailing the Syrian support for Doha agreement and Syria’s readiness to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The press sources talk about the loyalists’ doubts concerning the next stage and the expected visit of the French president to Syria and the preparations on the Arab level for the post-Bush era.
- 4. The speech of the former premier Omar Karame on the anniversary of the assassination of his brother Rasheed Karami reflected his anger with Samir Geagea, who was sentenced for killing Karame and was released with an amnesty decision under the pressure of the loyalists and the US support. Omar Karame also criticized the new elections law, saying it raises sectarian fanaticism through adopting the small constituencies in the parliamentary elections.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said in its editorial that the essence of the Israel’s ideology is based on annexing more Palestinian lands.
Al-Baya said in its editorial that the document of Washington in supporting international agreements on weaponry is poor.
The Saudi paper al-Watan said in its editorial that Israel talks about peace but at the same times it breaks into the lands in he West bank and Gaza and destroys the corps of Palestinians.
The British paper, the Sunday Times said that the Israel foreign minister Tzipi Levni was a Mossad agent.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

The ANB
Member of the bloc of change and reform representative Ibrahim Kin’an said what is important is not the portfolios but achieving our political goals.
The political writer Sameer Mansur said the coming government is governed with a specific constitutional age and it is government of elections. Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said that president Bashar al-Assad and prince of Qatar discussed recent developments in the area and Syria’s role in Doha agreement.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said there are no crucial results concerning the file of the new government yet but the discussions among the sides continued and suggested that the stands became clearer than before.
The paper added that the French president Sarkozy’s visit to Lebanon might open a new page in the foreign dealing with Lebanon.
Ad-Diyar said that despite some obstacles that hinder the formation of the new government the information said the government will be formed during the coming 48 ours.

Source
New Orient News

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, French, German, and Spanish languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and Spanish.

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