An Event and a Regional Trend

The US comment on the Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s visit to Damascus brings to mind Washington’s comment on Al-Maleki previous visit to Tehran and on the Iranian-Afghani meeting which was held recently in Kabul during president Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Afghanistan.
In the end, new facts emerge and the ice imposed by the Americans is defrosted under the influence of the necessities of the neighboring states and the joint interests among Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and today between Iraq and Syria.
There is no doubt that al-Maliki’s visit to Damascus is motivated by Tehran and a US acceptance in the aftermath of Damascus meeting. But this visit is basically motivated by two issues:
- The size of joint interests between the two countries and the US inability to prevent communication due to the failure of the occupation and the size of the accumulated problems in Iraq which resulted from the occupation.
- Iraq’s need to the Syrian role in sponsoring a direct dialogue with the basic opponent forces which is connected to Syria due to its anti-occupation stand which supports the legitimacy of the Iraqi resistance and clings to Iraq’s sovereignty and unity.
Syria’s historic relation with many Iraqi sides inside and outside the authority qualifies it to play an important role in encouraging dialogue and national conciliation and this was the main motive behind the visit’s content and timing.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Mi’rab’s meeting formed a remarkable station in March 14 movement concerning the presidential merit. Some press sources considered this meeting as an attempt by the Lebanese Forces to establish an opposite reference to both general Michel Aoun and Patriarch Sfeir, although a number of sources doubt the ability of the participants in the meeting to unify their stands behind one presidential candidate, because most of them consider themselves as possible candidates. Meanwhile representative Boutros Harb kept silent at the meeting, while president Gemayel left it, and some Christian representatives like Robert Ghanem, Samir Frangié and Samir Atallah, who was distanced from all the meetings sponsored by Samir Gegea, did not attend.
The Loyalists sources assert that Mi’rab meeting will reach a single candidate in the end. It discussed the constitutional quorum of the electoral session and some loyal representatives expressed readiness to attend an electoral session with the present representatives in the last days of president Emile Lahoud’s term, but informed political sources said the meeting secures a readiness for an escalatory option and the participants wait for the Saudi-US signs in this respect, especially after general Aoun’s declaration of receiving US messages related to the Lebanese condition. This raised questions amid the confusion of the US policy in the area and in the shadow of the approach of mid-September and the end of the Congress’s deadline given to president Bush.
The meeting seemed as a message against the nomination of general Aoun and general Michel Suleiman, whether through the political content of the stand which was announced after the meeting or through the crucial priority which was given for opposing the constitution’s modification to prevent the election of Michel Suleiman
Mi’rab meeting revealed differences in dealing with the presidential merit which will escalate with approach of the elections’ date.

Arab and International Press

Thomas Friedman said in an article published in the New York Times that general David Petraeus and ambassador Ryan Crocker will explain in their report if the strategy of increasing the US forces in Iraq succeeded, but he does not care about their opinions, and he trusts the readers more because he is sure that they know more than what they believe.
Friedman added that the Saudi peace initiative will not lead to anything, pointing out that it was sent to the Israeli people via the fax and peoples do not change land for peace through the fax.
Former head of the Israeli intelligence Shlomo Gazit said the area faces the possibility of a new war that may erupt on the Lebanese borders or in the Golan Heights.
The Syrian paper Techrine said the US provokes Israel to launch war on Syria.
The Israeli expert in Maariv paper Amos Galbou’ said quietness on the north front is the fruit of a strategic decision for the Syria-Iran and Hezbollah alliance, but this quietness may end next September due to presidential elections in Lebanon.
Agence France Presse quoted an Israeli military source as saying Israel will buy smart bombs and warplanes from the US to interfere against Iran.
United Press International quoted an official in the Arab league as saying that he belittles the importance of the US call for holding an international conference on peace in the Middle East, linking the success of this conference with Israel’s acceptance of Arab peace initiative.
The US press said the White House’s welcoming of the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner’s visit to Baghdad is considered as a US green light to accept a French role in Iraq that lifts the burden from Washington.
United Press International said Saudi Arabia hopes that regional alliances will be for enhancing the unity of Arab stand not for weakening it.
The Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat said we can not ignore the danger that threatens the Middle East in the light of the current military mobilization but this does not mean that a war may erupt.

Lebanese press

An-Nahar said house speaker Berri does not accept any alternative to the two thirds quorum and Aoun clings to an emergency government, pointing out that Mi’rab meeting Lebanised the presidential merit.
Ad-Diyar said the presidential elections witnesses a conflict between the Christians of the majority and the Christians of the opposition.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Special Interview
Deputy secretary general of Hezbollah Sheikh Naim Qassem said Hezbollah is ready to face challenges, ruling out an Israeli aggression on Lebanon because Israel was defeated in this country.

Television Stations’ News In Lebanon

Al-Manar said Mi’rab meeting’s statement reflected the delayed disputes inside the ruling team.
The NTV said Mi’rab meeting ruled out the unity government.
The NBN said Mi’rab’s meeting stressed that the elected president should be from the participants.
The OTV (which is close to the National Liberal Trend) said Mirab’s threats to Nabih Berri were answered by his circles which stressed that he will not change his stands.
The LBC said stands towards the presidential merit are too clear now but translating them is very complicated .
The Future said practical steps to deal with the presidential merit started.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Between Two Brackets
The Saudi writer Khaled Al-Dakhil said the statements of the Syrian vice-president were not spontaneous and the Syrian-Saudi relations are important to both sides, and one of its basis was the policy of the late president Hafez al-Assad who established good relations with all the Arabs.
The Syrian representative Mohamed Habache said escalation in the Syrian-Saudi relations does not benefit anyone, and no one wants to neutralize Saudi Arabia from the arena of the Arab-Israeli confrontation.

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.