An Event and a Regional Trend

Hamas started to release some documents that the movement seized since aborting the coup attempt in Gaza. What attracted the attention of the political and press circles yesterday is the press conference held by one of Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahhar, who said there are tons of documents that contain dangerous information on corruption scandals and espionage and intelligence relations between the Palestinian authority’s personalities and the US and Israeli intelligence. Zahhar named, in his talk about the scandals, a number of officials, including the resigned adviser Mohamed Dahlan and former head of interior security Rachid Abou Shbak, head of the emergency government Salam Abu Fayyad and a number of security leaders.
Mahmoud Zahhar also showed a message from Bassam Abou Sharif to the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat related to an attempt on his life by personalities that surrounded him at that time.
This issue changed into a main title for the Palestinian interior discussions and contests in the shadow of the authority’s official policy, which was announced by Salam Fayyad, and which is based on dropping the resistance’s legitimacy and rejecting any weapons outside the authority’s hand. This was greatly welcomed by Israel.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian street is concerned about the continuity of the Israeli assassination and arrest operations in the shadow of the Israeli rejection to take any serious steps related to Palestinian rights before eliminating the resistance’ factions in Gaza and the West Bank.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The atmospheres that accompany the by-elections battle in the northern Matn reflect the sharp political polarization between the loyals and the opposition despite the condensed mediations, which aim at finding a compromise that prevents Sunday electoral battle. March 14 alliance started a wide-scope campaign to compete with the candidate of General Michel Aoun doctor Camille Khouri, who competes former president Amine Gemayel on Al-Matn seat. Former and current competitors of Gemayel support him in their public stands starting off from the priority of confrontation with General Michel Aoun, who was firm in his electoral speech yesterday and considered that this mobilization targets him as it targets Gemayel, referring to foreign pressures that pushed Gemayel to fight the battle due to certain calculations related to the Christian political reality.
A leading source said some ambassadors and their security assistants moved to secure the requirements of the battle against general Aoun and to convince the former president to nominate himself instead of nominating his son Sami to inherit the seat of his assassinated son minister and representative Pierre Gemayel.
The source added that this aims at consuming Gemayel’s chance to continue presenting himself as a conciliatory candidate through involving him in violent contests against the opposition, which are difficult to give up whether he wins the elections or loses them. Meanwhile the loyals raise doubts on the popularity of General Aoun and portray Al-Matn battle in a wrong way as an exclusive criterion to know the Christina street’s tendency, and by this, the loyals will try to appeal against Aoun’s candidate on the representative level. The source adds that weakening Michel Aoun and dropping Amine Gemayel from the opportunities of nomination will open the way for the groups of candidates, who enjoy the support of embassies, especially Nasib Lahoud and others whose names were repeated recently.

Arab and International Press

International Press quoted the UN Radio as saying that Middle East peace process coordinator Michael Williams announced that meetings with Hezbollah continue to discuss the issue of the two Israeli soldiers who were captivated by the party.
The Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronot said the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of defense Robert Gates who arrived in Saudi Arabia try to persuade Saudi Arabia to attend the international conference on peace on the Middle East that Bush called for, pointing out that Riyadh is not enthusiastic to hold it because it does not deal with central points of disputes between Israel and the Palestinians.
Al-Akhbar quoted informed sources in Ramallah as saying that Israeli foreign minister Tzibi Levni informed her Egyptian counterpart Aboul Gheit and Jordanian counterpart Abdelelah Al-Khatib that Israel wants Ismail Hanniyeh to remain alive because he represents the moderate and rational voice in Hamas.
United Press International said US vice-president Dick Cheney described his career as unique because it does not completely belong to the executive administration or the legal administration in the US.
Arab and International Press Agencies said Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki denounced the US arms deals to Israel and Gulf States and Egypt saying they are useless and aim at preventing the bankruptcy of US weapons corporations.
Arab and International Press Agencies said one of Hamas leaders: Mahmoud Zahhar said Hamas seized tons of documents on the corruption of Palestinian authority’s leaders.
Arab and international press said the Islamic work front, the political arm of the Muslim brothers in Jordan, announced withdrawal from municipal elections due to forgery.
Arab and International Press Agencies said Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem vehemently criticized the US arms deals to Gulf States to confront the Iranian influence describing them as dangerous and obstruct peace. On the other hand al-Mualem announced Syria’s readiness to participate in the international peace conference setting as a condition clarifying the goals of Bush’s initiative and the guarantees of its success.
Arab and International Press agencies said the Security Council approved a plan for sending an international force that consists of 25 thousands soldiers to Darfur.
Arab and International Press Agencies quoted the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying that he rules out the eruption of a war with Syria or Hezbollah this Summer or next autumn, pointing out that he is ready for negotiations with Israel’s neighbors.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said Al-Matn by-elections will take place on time, while Ad-Diyar said a meeting was held by representatives Ibrahim Kanaan and Gaby Gebrayel with patriarch Sfeir. This was followed by phone calls with a number of officials and with Bishop Boulos Matar, who visited president Gemayel and informed him about the content of the patriarchy’s initiative.
Lebanese Press said leader of the army Michel Suleiman toured the surroundings of Nahr Al-Bared camp and visited the military units there.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the by-elections will take place despite attempts to prevent internal confrontation in the Christian community.
The NTV said Beirut will go to an electoral battle that the opposition did not decide to fight.
The NBN said international circles prepare projects in the area that serve their interests and Israel’s interests.
The LBC wondered if al-Matn battle will be avoided or erupt, while the Future said Spanish foreign minister Moratinos’s meetings in Damascus take place within the framework of the European efforts to solve the Lebanese crisis.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: With All Courage
Official of political relations in the National Liberal Trend Gibran Bassil said all the elections operations in the world witness this kind of threats and the language of the stick and the weapon and the Trend is afraid of the problems that the other team may resort to.
Journalist Nabil Abu Munsef said the National Liberal Trend is also responsible for escalation in al-Matn.

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.