An Event and a Regional Trend

The Arab and international press have focused on the historic event that Turkey will witness through electing the foreign minister Abdullah Gül as a president, in the shadow of the contests on the anticipated gravitation among the Justice and Development Party, the military institution and the secular trend.
The Turkish experience, which is led by the Justice and Development Party, attracts the attention of Arab and foreign experts and analysts who started to measure the Western reaction to the ascension of an Islamic trend , which can not be described as extremist, but it enjoys a wide popular support and expresses a cultural and political identity represented by the stands of the Turkish government, which is reserved to the US policy in the area and kept strong relations with Tehran and Damascus during the climax of the US - Israeli pressures, aimed at isolating them and using Turkey as a platform for economic, and security pressure on the Syrian and Iranian regimes whose political and economic relations with Turkey have developed in the four past years.
Electing Abdullah Gül as a president for Turkey will bring with it controversial cultural, political and educational changes and pose again the question inside Turkey on the ability of the seculars’ democracy to accept the Islamic trend as one of the components of general life in the country, and on the Western camp’s respect of the cultural identity of the eastern people.
Meanwhile, analysts and observers wonder if the secret fingers will bring the Algerian example to Ankara streets, saying this will be a dangerous turning point, whose consequences will surpass Turkey’s borders.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The heated contests between the opposition and the loyalists concerning the presidential merit are pushing, according to analysts, the political and constitutional crisis to a complicated stage which hinders the anticipation of any solution, while the press says that the French envoy Jean-Claude Cousseran’s mission has proved that the two sides did not reach any understanding on the unity government and the presidential elections.
The Lebanese press and political sources focused on the paragraph cited by the French president Nicolas Sarkozy which said that the new Lebanese president should represent all the Lebanese people and that the Syrian cooperation in reaching a compromise in this respect is the key to dialogue between Paris and Damascus.
A Lebanese expert in French affairs considered Sarkozy’s statements as a French step towards an understanding with Syria on Lebanon, contrary to what the tone of the speech suggested or the comments that dealt with it in Beirut, because the president that all the Lebanese people consider as their representative is a phrase which is equivalent to the Syrian phrase which is "supporting all what the Lebanese agree on", and this is a criterion that applies to the two topics of the government and presidency at the same time.
France, which officially opened the channels of direct communication with Hezbollah’s leadership and took serious steps to help to explore the possibilities of compromise among all the Lebanese sides, announced that it will not be biased to any side in its approach to the presidential elections, contrary to president Chirac’s administration,which unconditionally endorsed the stands of certain Lebanese sides.
In as much as the compromise that Sarkozy called for seems a hostage to the US obstacles, which reflect on many Arab and Lebanese sides, the Egyptian reaction to the speech of the representative Walid Jumblatt and the clarifying statements of the Egyptian ambassador in Beirut reveal that the relations with Syria do not move in accordance with the wishes of the Lebanese loyalists. Therefore, the absence of solutions and the continuity of the status quo mean that the confrontations that the opposition warned against will push Lebanon to a new test of power, whose results will be the return to compromises that their equations and components may change but their costs will become high for those who obstructed them.

Arab and International Press

European and French press focused on the annual speech of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy before the French diplomatic corps, which stressed France’s rejection of Iraq war, and asked the US to set out a clear timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Sarkozy set as a condition for opening to Syria and Iran namely their contribution to the solution of the Lebanese crisis, pointing out that Iran will gain a lot if it respects its international commitments.
Austrian press quoted the US ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad as saying that problems in the Middle East and the Islamic civilization may cause a world war, pointing out that the current state of confusion in this area may set fire to the whole world.
The Israeli press quoted the minister of defense Ehud Barak as saying that tension between Syria and Israel has started to disappear, but the power of Hezbollah is growing.
— The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej focused on the long speech of the Israeli defense minister Barak on the arsenal that the resistance possesses in Lebanon, saying that the eyes of this enemy focus on this country and Israel may launch an aggression on it again.
The United Press International said Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu al-Gait denied that President Mubarak has informed head of the Democratic Meeting Walid Jumblatt that president Bashar Al-Assad will be held accountable for the assassination of the former Lebanese premier Rafiq al-Hariri.
Al-Bayan said the declaration issued by Talbani and Al-Maleki refers to a new development on the Iraqi arena and opens the way for national reconciliation in this country.
The Israeli paper Yidioth Ahronoth said the Iranian ministry of defense’s declaration about producing a new smart bomb has raised a deep anxiety in Israel.
David Ignatius published an article in the Washington Post which said that a radical change occurred in President George Bush’s Middle Eastern Strategy and that containing Iran in the area became his first priority.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar quoted sources in Paris as saying that Cousseran’s mission in Beirut has faced many obstacles, including the inability to reach an understanding between the opposition and the majority on the coincidence between forming a unity government and the presidential merit.
The Lebanese press focused on the reactions which condemned the threats received by the Saudi ambassador to Beirut Abdul Aziz Khujah.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said: The February team has decided to elect the president with the quorum of the half plus one but this will be confronted by president Lahoud’s constitutional options which will prevent civil war.
The NTV said there are no positive signs in the presidential merit and the opposition, and the majority has decided to commit suicide in this respect.
The NBN said Cousseran’s mission has failed, while the OTV said the Lebanese president and the Iranian nuclear file reflect the equation of the conflict in the area as expressed by French president Sarkozy.
The LBC said the solution lies in electing the president in accordance with the constitution.
The Future said Naher Al-Bared battle has entered its one hundred days.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Between Two Brackets
Minister of the Palestinian captives’ affairs Ashraf Ajami said we will not reject any political compromise but we will not give up our conditions. And if they refuse our conditions, we will resort to resistance.
Representative of Hamas Sami Abu Zahri said that the Palestinian authority does not cling to national invariables.
Head of the Egyptian Nasserite party said: the international peace conference is a trick.

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.