An Event and a Regional Trend

The visit of the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and secretary of defense Robert Gates to the area raises wide-scope concern and expectancy in regional press and political circles, because the central title given by Bush’s administration to its movement in the area is enhancing the fever of armament with tens of billions of dollars through deals announced in the last two days, which are linked to Bush’s administration’s stress on crucial commitment to the superiority of the Israeli arsenal in the Middle East . This was expressed by the size of the funds dedicated for this purpose, which reached 30 billion dollars and coincide with joint US-Israeli projects in weapons industry, which are still existent in addition to US strategic stores built in Israel some years ago. This means that Rice and Gates will inform the allied Arab governments about the approach of the hour of withdrawal from Iraq, while they will prepare the theatre of the area for coming wars through Israel’s preparations to get rid of the traces of its defeat in Lebanon and for a vengeful war against Syria and Lebanon.
Analysts talk about US endeavors to establish an Arab-Israeli military and political alliance against Iran, Syria, and resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. The press cover for this hellish game is the spectacular communications concerning the Palestinian topic without the appearance of any signs on a frank Israeli commitment to Palestinian rights, while Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad drop resistance from their political project and start practical measures on this basis.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The statements of the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner at Beirut international airport left the door open to the continuity of French endeavors which were joined by Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos amid Kouchner’s call for the meeting of Arab and European efforts.
It became clear from the results of the French minister’s communications that reaching a political compromise in Lebanon is still far and that the loyals and the opposition are still clinging to the same stands. The opposition considers the unity government a necessary introduction to dialogue on all the issues, including the presidential merit, but the loyal stress their clinging to the priority of the presidential merit through the half plus one session in the last ten days of Lahoud’s term, while increasing parliamentary voices insist on the quorum of the two thirds.
The loyals’ press dealt with Kuchner’s statements about the Syrian and Iranian factors in Lebanon in a way that does not precisely reflect the intention of the French minister. The press said Kouchner said that the two factors obstruct a compromise in Lebanon, while press and political sources that met the French minister and his accompanying delegation listened to his explanation about the necessity of dialogue with Syria and Iran in order to secure a regional ceiling that sponsors the possible solution in Lebanon. This was considered by a leading source in the opposition as a reference to the feeling of Tehran and Damascus concerning the existence of a US plan to change Lebanon into a platform against them and that is what was meant by Kouchner, whose envoy to Damascus and Tehran heard a support to anything that the Lebanese agree on. The leading opponent source adds: when secretary general of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah first proposed the slogan of unity government he said to the loyals that complete partnership will isolate the foreign influences. This was a retaliation against the image marketed by loyals which said the Lebanese internal conflict is one between a US-Saudi axis and an Iranian-Syrian axis represented by the opposition.

Arab and International Press

Arab and international press said Jordanian king Abdaalh the second officially announced the resignation of the water and irrigation minister Mohamed Thafer and the health minister Saad al-Kharabshah due to the consequences of the water pollution in al-Mufarrak province.
Arab and international news agencies quoted Palestinian sources in Ramallah as saying that Israel has promised Mahmoud Abbas to release 600 Palestinian captives in the coming weeks.
Arab Press said the US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad accused Saudi Arabia and US allies in the Middle East of obstructing the efforts of ending violence in Iraq.
Arab press said the head of intelligence in Colombia announced that the eleven representatives, detained by the revolutionary armed forces, were killed in clashes between two of factions of these forces.
International Press Agencies quoted US president George Bush as saying that he is committed to the qualitative superiority of Israel’s military arsenal.
Arab and international press said the Palestinian captive Mohammad Saïd Wajih entered his 31 year in captivity and became the eldest prisoner in Israeli prisons or in the world.
International press agencies said the US has decided to increase its military aids to Israel to become 30 billion dollars during ten years.
Arab and international press said US secretary of state Rice and secretary of defense Gate will tour the area to discuss condition in Iraq.
The Israeli paper Yidioth Ahronoth said the Israeli government officially asked head of Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman to meditate with Hamas to release the Israeli soldier Gilaad Shalitt.
Arab press quoted Secretary of the Higher Iranian council for national security Ali Larijani as saying that the Iranian nuclear file can be solved if it is discussed within its legal framework.

Lebanese Press

Lebanese press focused on the visit of the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner to Beirut in an attempt to solve the Lebanese crisis.
Al-Akhbar said Kouchner has failed in completing the dialogue, while An-Nahar said the meetings with Kouchner were cold.
Lebanese press said Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos arrived in Beirut to hold talks with Lebanese officials that aim at solving the Lebanese crisis.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program: Panorama
Head of Hamas political office Khaled Mashal said the movement has discovered new documents that reveal conspiracies against Palestinians and Arab states.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the general aspect of Kouchner’s visit was neither pessimistic nor positive.
The NTV said the French diplomacy did not succeed in solving the crisis.
The LBC said preparations for by-elections continue, while the NBN said the Maronite patriarch Sfeir called for mercy in Al-Matn by-elections.
The Future said the French foreign minister, who headed for Cairo, talked about a return to Beirut in the coming days.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Program: The Week in an Hour
Head of the People’s Movement Najah Wakim said if House speaker Nabih Berri accepts the two new representatives, disputes will start in the opposition, but if he refuses them, they will say this is an aggression by the Shia on the Sunni and Maronite sects.
Journalist Ali Al-Ameen said Lebanon is witnessing a sectarian wave.
President Amin Gemayel said his nomination to al-Matn by-elections has placed him under the disposal of the Sfeir and the bishops.

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.