An Event and a Regional Trend

Recent developments in the Iraqi governmental condition have pushed the authority’s political formula to the forefront of events in the area, especially after the US repeated statements about the failures of Al-Maleki’s government, which US officials hold responsible for the continuous failure of the US occupation since the US president Bush’s declaration of the flowing plan and the project of Baghdad’s security plan, which were considered as a failure in the report discussed by the Congress.
Some observers said the withdrawal of a number of Iraqi ministers expresses the existence of a US plan to reformulate the Iraqi authority in a way that suits the project of the regional alliance, which was announced at Sharm el-Sheikh. Meanwhile, the United-Staters try to guarantee a direct Saudi presence in the Iraqi equation through the representational dimension of the Sunnis of Iraq. Therefore, the recent resignations of Iraqi ministers open the road for testing the possibility of forming an Iraqi authority whose regional space is an Iranian-Saudi duality and to allow Saudi Arabia to contain the Sunni factor in the Iraqi political process, but this plan faces many obstacles, the most distinguished among them is that the Saudi relationship with some Iraqi sides that participate in the political formula, established by the United-Staters, will not add any new popular cover to the authority, especially in the Sunni street, which embraces a number of the blocs and forces, which are involved in resistance against the US occupation and consider Saudi Arabia and Jordan as partners in the invasion, but they respect the known Syrian stand in the shadow of popular, economic, cultural and historic intersections between Syria and Iraq, which are enhanced by the Syrian political stand which rejects the continuity of occupation. That is what pushes the US not to endorse the Saudi stand, which wishes to isolate Syria’s role in Iraq despite Bush’s administration’s enthusiasm to test the Saudi stumbling pledge in Iraq for a year and a half, because time overtakes Washington amid the rise of the democratic majority’s pressures at the Congress.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The press and political circles have focused on the consequences of the results on Al-Matn’s elections which ended by the winning of the National Liberal Trend’s candidate Camille Khouri and the defeat of the loyal candidate former president Amine Gemayel.
The loyals considered the results of the Maronite votes in Al-Matn as an expression of their representational weight and portrayed it as en evidence on the retreat of the popularity of General Michel Aoun who emerged from the elections of 2005 as an undisputed leader of the Christian street. The opposition described this reading as a compulsory attempt to turn around the defeat of the most distinguished loyal personality in what was considered as an international war against General Aoun to force him to pay the price of his understanding with Hezbollah and his support to the resistance against the US-Israeli war on Lebanon last summer.
In this field, discussion between the loyal and the opposition recalled the episodes of the general parliamentary elections two years ago when the loyals won the Christian seats in Babda and Alia constituencies due to the votes of the Islamic sects (Shia, Druze in the mountain and Sunni in Tripoli) and where general Aouun’s and Frangié’s candidates reaped the majority of the Christian votes. Some analysts said depending on sectarian votes will impose deductions that do not serve the loyal interest in this respect, although many complications surrounded the topic of the recent by-elections which did not prevent the winning of the National Liberal Trend and renewing its status as a major force in he Lebanese theatre and the Christian street in particular.
The coming developments will be governed by the results of Sunday, an it is probable that the approach of the presidential merit’s date will escalate the confrontation, while the US will insist on considering Lebanon as an arena for preventing compromises due to the regional situation. Meanwhile, political circles focused on the European and US press reports, which talked about the retreat of the loyals and the US pledge which depends on the loyals and their role in the Lebanese political reality which is manifested in al Siniora’s government

Arab and International Press

The Spanish paper El Pais said London and Moscow have entered a crisis whose dimensions are not identified yet in the aftermath of Britain’s expulsion of four Russian diplomats.
The Argentinean paper Pagina 12 said: President Bush loses support inside and outside his country while the British government transmits signs of changing its policy with the US.
- The paper La Nacion said the world witnesses more comprehensive regimes that resort to the pressure groups in Washington and launch press campaigns to improve their image.
The international expert in the Middle East affairs Anthony H. Cordesman said, in a talk to the New York Times, that dividing Palestinian lands between Hamas and Fatah is very dangerous and raises many questions.
The Washington Post said the Congress sacrifices the rights of Americans through concentrating on its political interest only.
The Saudi paper Al-Sahrq al Awsat said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have agreed to launch the negotiations on the final condition in order to establish the Palestinian state.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said the US-Iranian-Iraqi talks in Baghdad were frank and serious.
The Israeli paper Yedioth Ahraonoth quoted Israeli political circles as saying that the Spanish foreign minister has demanded the meeting of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to convey a positive message concerning Damascus’s serious wish to achieve progress in the peace process with Israel.

Lebanese Press

Lebanese press focused on the by-elections’ results and consequences while the Kuwaiti paper Al-Qabas quoted official sources in Washington as saying that relations between the US administration and General Aoun have deteriorated.
An-Nahar said Gemayel and Aoun share al-Matn victory but the house speaker did not reveal his opinion concerning the legality of the two representatives.
Al-Akhbar said the archbishop of the Armenian Church has rejected the baseless accusations against his sect.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Special Interview
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maleki said withdrawals from the government reflect the lack of responsibility.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the ruling team was defeated in al-Matn elections with the defeat of its candidate Amine Gemayel.
The NTV said al-Matn by-elections have reflected sectarian division in Lebanon.
The LBC said al-Matn electoral battle has changed into a political one after announcing the results.
The Future said the elections resulted in the victory of the Liberal National Trend’s candidate.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Between Two Brackets — Former minister Albert Mansour said if Amine Gemayel , Saad al-Hariri and Walid Jumblatt consider themselves as winners in the elections, they should then nominate Gemayel for presidency, but thy will not agree on this, because they will commit to the US candidate, Nassib Lahoud.
Representative Camille Khouri said: we are only one Maronite side and we fought the battle against 5 Maronite forces.

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.