An Event and a Regional Trend

When Mecca agreement was signed between Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, the available press information reported that the formula of the agreement and its items were worded in Damascus and that the Syrian leadership has urged Hamas to sign the agreement under the Saudi sponsorship in an attempt by Damascus to restore the warmness of cooperation with Riyadh, starting off from the Arab collective titles, and especially the Palestinian title.
The big surprise was the Saudi silence concerning the coup attempt arranged by the US General Keith Dayton in collaboration with Mohammad Dahlan group to oust Mecca agreement and accept the US project that led to establishing an Arab-Israeli alliance that supports Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas without any move to defend the destiny of Mecca agreement and the signature of the Saudi king, who sponsored it.
The problem that surrounds the Syrian-Saudi relations is, according to an expert in Arab affairs, the size of direct connection between the Saudi regional policy and the US project in the area. This is represented in an official active line inside the Saudi ruling institution, which stands behind calculations based on the principle of trying to inherit the Syrian role in Lebanon, drop it in Iraq and besiege it in Palestine. Washington encourages these attempts under the title of tightening the grip around Syria while the US secret diplomacy works directly or through European mediators to explore the possible understandings with Syria on the three files that the Saudis try to put their hands on.
This reading leads to the anticipation that any détente in the Syrian-Saudi relations will be connected with a clear retreat of the US escalation in the area and the US adoption of an official policy based on opening to Damascus and Tehran. Then Washington’s Arab allies will adopt new trends that may require rearranging the positions of decision making inside the Saudi kingdom before carrying out a complete shift in Arab relations.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Political and press circles have focused on the issue of searching for the presidential merit after the retreat of the debate resulted from the consequences of the by-elections.
Anticipating the house speaker’s communications is the main feature of the Lebanese political climate and this coincides with the possible foreign movements under the pressure of the approach of the constitutional merit which is represented in the deadline for electing a new president on September 25.
The ruling team rejects the formation of a unity government that the opposition considers as an obligatory introduction to deal with the presidential topic, which may be obstructed, because the opposition will not take any step to secure the constitutional quorum in the absence of the conciliation that the unity government can achieve.
The available scenarios will face the loyal way in dealing with the presidential merit and this poses, according to analysts, a question on what the US administration wants in the area and in Lebanon after the loyals lost the quorum of the half plus one that some of the loyal personalities and the US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman pledged on to elect a president from the loyals at any cost.
Answering the question on the US stand, analysts link the presidential merit in Lebanon with conditions in the area and the US options to face them. From this angle, the US policy and the policies of the Arab governments that move in the American orbit, which are led by Saudi Arabia, do not give any positive signs that suggest the possibility of signing a comprehensive compromise in the near future, in the shadow of the insistence on testing the possibility of eliminating the Palestinian track through Sharm el-Sheikh coalition which supports Mahmoud Abbas, despite the danger of this policy on the internal Palestinian condition and the increasing problems that face the US occupation in Iraq. In this case, the loyals will be lucky and adopt al-Siniora government through totally obstructing the presidential merit since it will be difficult to accept a candidate fro March 14 alliance.

Arab and International Press

The Times talked about the killing of a British soldier in Basra, pointing out that this city has started to become a dilemma to the British troops, because attacks on them increased in an unprecedented way.
The Guardian said the British statements about withdrawal from Iraq and the US fear from this do not mean that this may happen.
The Daily Telegraph said the cost of the Iraq war has affected the US aids to Israel.
Anthony Cordsman, from the CSIS, said, in a report prepared after his visit to Iraq, that the US will not leave this country before 10 years.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej quoted official sources at the Palestinian legislative council as saying that Hamas is waiting for progress in the deal for exchanging captives with Israel, which will activate the work of the council through releasing Palestinian representatives.
German Press Agencies said head of Hamas political office Khaled Meeshal visited Sana to hold talks with Yemeni president on conditions in Palestine. Iranian press sources said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maleki asked during his recent visit to Iran the Iranian government to help in restoring the ministers of the conciliation front who withdrew from his government.
International press agencies quoted the White House spokesperson as saying that the US wants to expand the role of a number of states in Iraq on the economic and diplomatic fronts.
The Syrian press agency Sana’s quoted interior minister Bassam Abd el-Majeed as saying at the meeting of Iraq’ neighboring states in Damascus that Syria took all the necessary steps on the borders in Iraq to achieve security in this country.
The Russian press agency Novosti quoted leader of the Russian air forces Alexander Zelen as saying that the Russian army will receive planes without pilots before 2011, which can fly for 12 hours and whose range is between 300 and 400 kilometers

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said House Speaker Nabih Berri may seek a consultative mechanism to activate dialogue among political leaders.
An-Nahar quoted the US assistant secretary of state for the Middle East affairs David Walch as saying that the US participation in Damascus meeting on Iraq does not reflect any change in Washington’s stand towards Syria.

Arab Satellite Stations News

A news Report
The πentagon spokesperson said there are 162.000 US soldiers in Iraq.

Program : The Day’s Harvest
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said the US president Bush issued orders to kill him.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the spirit returned to political communications through the Saudi ambassador to the US who returned from a long holiday.
The NTV said al-Matn battle ended, but the problem of the Armenians continued.
The NBN said the issue of the unity government and the presidential merit occupy the forefront of the political scene.
The Future said French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner will return to Lebanon.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: The Merit
Amine Gemayel said the Tashnag party has involved the Armenians in his stands and General Michel Aoun is not the strongest in the Christian Street.

Program: Useful Summary
Former representative Mikhaël Daher said the reactions to the by-elections in al-Matn are not modest.

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.