An Event and a Regional Trend

It became clear that the French – Saudi dispute surrounds the endeavors of president Sarkozy concerning the Lebanese condition, while the circulated analyses in Lebanon and abroad focus in their interpretation of this issue on the Syrian-Saudi dispute on a number of axes from Iraq to Palestine. An expert in Arab affairs said these titles revolve around the degree of organic relation between the Saudi regional policy and Bush’s administration’s plan to the extent that the kingdom did not take any serious step to protect the Mecca agreement, and its negative stand in this respect raised many questions since Dahlan’s coup under the patronage of the US general Keith Dayton.
The French approach, which is close to the Iranian vision, is based on considering the Syrian-Lebanese relation as a component of the necessary factors of stability as the experience of the last three decades has proved. And Paris starts off from the need to achieve a Lebanese balance that cancels the marginalization of the role of Christians in the Lebanese structure and this suits the trend that the Lebanese opposition expresses in its call for a complete national partnership through clinging to a unity government as a framework for political compromise.
The expert explains the real motives for the Saudi reserve concerning the French role saying that the US decision to prevent any solution to the Lebanese crisis in the current circumstances is the real motive, because observers think that Saudi Arabia is able to oblige its allies to accept the logic of compromise if it wants this, but the US timing requires leaving the Lebanese condition as an investment arena until Washington’s cards become clear and change Lebanon into a US bargain card.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Lebanese national opposition’s discussion revolves around the practical stand towards the by-elections in Beirut that Al-Siniora government called for holding them on August 5 with a decree, which is not signed by President ÉmilE Lahoud.
Political circles, close to Hizbullah which enjoys popular weight in these mixed sectarian circles, stressed that the party did not participate directly or indirectly in these elections for two considerations:
- The principled stand towards the call which violates the constitution and law, which is based on the party’s stand that considers Al-Siniora government as illegitimate and clings to the president’s constitutional authorities.
- Refusing participation in producing a sectarian polarization that the ruling team is trying to achieve in its dealing with this merit outside national consensus, because this team will lose the elections if they take place in a normal way.
A Leading source in the opposition said : participation through two candidates from the opposition will give the loyals an opportunity to portray the battle in a way that suits it in order to secure conditions for mobilization that aims at limiting the popular tendency in Beirut to abstain from participation and to restore its credit through sectarian provocation, and through achieving an illusory victory on the opposition, which will not participate with its weight which qualifies it to win the battle. That is what was suggested by the speech of representative Saad Hariri who opened the battle using the blood of the assassinated representative Walid Eidou.
The leading source called the opposition’s candidate to withdraw from this battle and leave the scene naked before the Lebanese instead of a free participation in an illusory political gain that contradicts the real image of the popular reality.

Arab and International Press

The Israeli papers quoted Israeli deputy prime minister Haïm Ramon as saying that Israel may stay forever in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, pointing out that this will depend on peace negotiations with Syria. International press agencies said 15 Israeli soldiers from Golani brigade evacuated their position on the borders with Gaza as a protest against the conditions of their service.
Agence France Presse said al-Qaeda organization threatened, in a statement published on the internet, to escalate its operations in North Africa and especially in the Islamic Maghreb.
Al-Akhbar quoted official sources in Gaza as saying that Hamas started a serious preparations to confront an anticipated Israeli aggression on Gaza.
The Saudi paper Al-Riyadh said, in one of its articles, that nuclear armament may penetrate the international control.
Arab Press said that in a quick response to president Bush’s advises, Iraqi officials announced that the leading five political leaders in Iraq may meet among themselves next Friday to end the political crisis that prevented the implementation of the merits which are demanded from the government, like the oil and gas law, the elimination of the Baath party, the provinces’ councils and other issues.
Arab and international agencies said the US Senator Russ Feingold announced that he intends to submit a draft resolution to blame Bush for allowing the US army to fall in Iraq’s quagmire.
Arab Press said a demonstration in the Virginia State called for ousting vice-president Dick Cheney.
Arab and international Press agencies quoted a high- ranking Israeli military source as saying that Hizbullah’s secretary general statements about the ability of his party to hit any target in Israel reflect the crisis of Hezbollah and its secretary general himself.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said the French envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran noticed that the quiet climate that accompanied Paris meeting is not available now.
Lebanese press said Cousseran will leave Beirut tomorrow to submit to french foreign minister Kuchner an assessment of the conditions before carrying out his tour in the area.
Al-Akhbar said new difficulties will face the Arab-Arab communications in the coming stage and that conditions in Palestine will be a priority and the Lebanese should wait.
Lebanese press said Al-Rabiyah witnessed two events: the invitation of the Patriarch Sfeir to General Michel Aoun and the declaration of the National Trend, representative Michel al-Murr and Tachnag to enter the elections to support the representative Kamel Khouri.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program : A Special Statement
Iranian ambassador to Iraq Hasan Qazemei Qummi said the second round of talks between Iran and the US on Iraq will focus on ways of activating what was discussed in the first round concerning security condition in Iraq.

Lebanese Television Stations’ News

Al-Manar said the by-elections took a different aspect when the National Trend decided to participate in them through an alliance with representative Michel al-Murr and Tachnag party to confront the authority’s candidate Amin Gemayel.
The NTV said general Oun called for stopping the use of the martyrs’ blood in elections.
The LBC said general Oun"s statements suggest that the conciliation efforts have collapsed.
The Future said the Maronite ministers in the government held a meeting in the house of the representative Nayla Mouawad that aims at enhancing coordination between Sfeir and the Maronite ministers in the government.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Between two Brackets
Professor of international relations at Damascus University Ibrahim Darraji said when the US meets intelligence officials in Arab states this reflects cohesion between moderate states and the US.
Editor-in-chief of the Jordanian paper Al-Gad Ayman Safadi said Hezbollah fought in a heroic way but the battle did not end the conflict, because there are international forces on the ground and this is an Israeli demand.
Director of Al-Arabi center for Iranian studies Mohammad Saleh Sadkiane said Iran has no special agenda to launch war on Israel, but faces pressures due to its anti-Israel policy.

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