An Event and a Regional Trend

Arab League’s council confirmed again the visit of the two foreign ministers of Egypt and Jordan to Israel after the Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa’s denial. The council welcomed at its session yesterday the US president George Bush’s statements and his call for holding an international peace conference on the area’s crisis. The remarkable event at the session, which attracted the political and press circles’ attention, was the withdrawal of Syria’s representative from the meeting that the Syrian foreign minister abstained from attending.
While some Arab governments, which are active in the Arab League, especially Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, talk about the peace initiative, which formed a title for the two Arab foreign ministers’ visit to Israel in a climate of Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Some analysts think that the statements of the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice at the outset of her visit gave a different meaning to what the Arab official discourse is marketing about the reality of what is happening. Rice said: the huge military aids approved by the US to the allied Arab regimes and the 30 billion dollars that aim at guaranteeing Israel’s qualitative military superiority are dedicated for forming a US-Israeli-Arab military and political and security alliance to face the resisting governments that confront the US domination. A Leading Lebanese source said it is clear that this alliance does not hide its goals, and its sides show resentment at the French and European efforts, because the US and Israeli orders that the Arab moderates, who participate in this alliance, commit to, do not leave a space for compromises in the area until further notice.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The stand announced by representative Walid Jumblatt, which rejects the idea of the guaranteeing third, which the opposition proposes as a minimum in the equation of forming the unity government and the US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman’s support to this stand, hinder the efforts to solve the crisis and bring it back to the first square of 2006.
This escalating development takes place in the aftermath of the positive gesture included in the speech of secretary general of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah and its good echoes that pushed the office of the Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to issue a statement that highlighted the speech. An informed political source commented on this paradox saying: Listen to Jumblatt’s speech in order to know his stands, because he became the first chief of the loyal alliance since he personally informed patriarch Sfeir about the date of French president Jacques Chirac’s reception of the head of the Maronite Church. This was an agreed on sign by Washington and Paris on the adopted first reference, but after Nicolas Sarkozy’s taking of office, the position of this reference shifted, but Washington kept its first order in the hierarchy of the Lebanese loyals.
After the visit of Bernard Kouchner and his revealing clinging to the stand which rejects the unity government, the Lebanese condition seems open to new horizons of escalation that one of their signs may be the by-elections in al-Matn next Sunday, but the real danger may result, according to analysts and observers, from the loyals’ adventure to elect a president from their ranks with the quorum of the half plus one and the continuity of rejecting the formation of the unity government, which Jumblatt’s stand alone is enough to prevent.

Arab and International Press

The available information from Cairo said: Arab foreign ministers have failed to adopt a unified stand towards the US call to hold an international peace conference on peace due to the Syrian foreign minister’s rejection to attend the meeting and the Syrian representative’s withdrawal from it.
The New York Times paper said: US president George Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney used fear and demagoguery to repress the demands of Americans to stop the war on Iraq.
The British paper Sunday Times wondered about the Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s plans concerning foreign policy, pointing out that one of his ministers has hinted at a possible change in relations with Washington, because Britain needs pluralism, not unilateralism.
Noam Chomsky said, in an article published by the US press, that establishing a US defensive system in Europe is a declaration of war in the first degree and this will help America to impose its domination abroad. He pointed out that the missiles’ shield system targets Iran.
Agence France Presse said the international atomic energy agency has admitted that it has a problem concerning preventing new states from getting the weapon and encouraging the peaceful use of nuclear energy at the same time.
Arab and international press agencies said the deposed Palestinian government formed recently a new security organ, which will carry out intelligence missions in Gaza.
US press quoted secretary of state Condoleezza Rice as saying that Washington intends to enhance the defensive capabilities of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and sign agreements for offering military aids to Egypt and Israel, pointing out the agreements take place within the framework of an expanded strategy to strengthen Washington’s partners in the area.
Arab and international press agencies said: Russian foreign minister Sergey Ivanov called Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for dialogue with Hamas; stressing the necessity of laying the foundation of Palestinian unity through dialogue among all the political sides.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the meeting which was held in Cairo among French foreign minister Kouchner, Egyptian foreign minister Aboul Gheit and Saudi Foreign minister Saud al-Faisal and Arab League Secretary general Amr Moussa dealt with the topic of regional and foreign influences on the Lebanese crisis, and that the Arab foreign ministers raised doubts on the French initiative’s ability to solve the crisis.
The press said: preparations for by-elections in al-Matn continue while Spanish foreign minister Moratinos held talks with participants in the Paris dialogue and stressed that the Lebanese are willing to get rid of this crisis. Arab press commented on the French foreign minister Kouchner’s warning from the possibility of a civil war in Lebanon, saying that it is not easy for a Western official to say this without convincing reasons.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program: With the Event
Head of the committee on national security and foreign relations at the Iranian Shura council Alaedin Boroujerdi said: arming the Zionist entity is not a new phenomenon. It is only a US strategic policy, which is activated after the July aggression defeat.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said: Washington revealed without reluctance the goals of armament agreements in the area, and this raises many questions on the coming plans after the defeat of the US project for the new Middle East.
The NTV said the Lebanese crisis has changed into a testing field for the world’s diplomats, while the NBN said the French foreign minister left Lebanon but his three-day visit has led to many readings and evaluations that wait for his expected return.
The LBC said political disputes accompany preparations for the by-elections in al-Matn. For its part, the Future said: the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos continued his talks with Lebanese officials and considered Syria as part of the solution and the problem.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar Program: Between two Brackets
Journalist Nasri Al-Sayegh said: the axis of Arab moderation is employed by the US decision, pointing out that this team will go to the peace conference without conditions, and it does not really want anything.
Editor-in-chief of Al-Quds a-Arabi paper in London Abdul Bari Atwan told the same program that Israel has set dropping the Palestinian people’s right to return to their homeland from the Arab peace initiative as a pre-condition for the success of any peace conference.

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.