An Event and a Regional Trend

Observers have focused on the step taken by the Saudi authorities to prevent the Saudi edition of a Gulf paper from distribution inside the kingdom due to an article written by a Lebanese journalist on Syrian-Saudi relations, while the atmospheres of the contests on this issue retreated.
An expert in Arab affairs said that Damascus carefully deals with the coldness in its relations with some Arab capitals, through leaving the doors of possible understandings open, and despite the press and political facilities that some Arab governments give to groups that Washington moves against the regime in Damascus, the Syrian authorities did not take any similar steps despite the presence of many opposition groups, which oppose Syria due to US pressures, that need a foothold and a press presence in the Arab area not in Europe, but Damascus does not resort to such behavior, because it wants to leave the doors open for Arab - Arab understandings in this critical stage and believes that the illusions marketed by the Americans about the Syrian regime despite the US fierce campaign and the Arab officials, who fell in the US traps, will find that there is no alternative to the system of Arab solidarity that Syria commits to.
The expert adds that relations among Riyadh and Damascus and Cairo will be governed, in the coming stage, by taking the road of minimum understandings, because the alternative is the US chaos and Bush’s conference will be an introduction to this chaos through eliminating the Palestinian cause and obliging Arab governments to recognize Israel and consequently causing stormy crises in the area that nobody will be far from their effects.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Political and press circles are looking forward to what will be announced by House Speaker Nabih Berri in his speech, which will be delivered in a festival on the occasion of the anniversary of the imam Musa al-Sadr’s disappearance.
The available information says that the meeting between Nabih Berri and the US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman did not reflect any US progress in the dimension of the US stand towards the presidential merit, because the ambassador did not bring any US answers which he promised to bring before leaving to his country, while the atmospheres show that Feltman has encouraged the loyalists to take the road of confrontation through the violation of the constitutional two thirds quorum.
Two opponent leaders, General Michel Aoun and former minister Suleiman Frangié, announced their rejection of this choice and that they will confront it with all the possible means. What raises doubts on the US intentions is Jeffry Feltman’s statements, which link the presidential merit with the resolution 1559 and using the US pressures to support Washington’s allies even if this leads to a very dangerous crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, press reports talked about French-US consultations related to Lebanon, and that the Syrian official source has welcomed the French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s speech .This confirms, according to observers, the signs of the French-Syrian understanding on the necessity of working to elect a president that enjoys a Lebanese consensus. This means taking new steps in the Syrian-French relations to cooperate in the endeavors that aim at facilitating the Lebanese conciliation, but the complex will remain in the US obstruction, as the opponents believe, unless the Iraqi consequences lead to new options and conditions that dictate on the US administration abstaining from using Lebanon as a platform for pressures or an arena for fires.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper Al–Khaleej said in an editorial: if the Palestinian authority is unable to eliminate a settlement or stop an aggression or liberate a captive, or reject a meeting with Israeli war criminals, then why did Mahmoud Abbas write in register of honor that he is honored to meet the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmer?
The Israeli paper Yidioth Ahronoth quoted the Israeli former war minister Ameer Perits as saying that he regrets assuming this position that led to the deterioration of his popularity in the aftermath of the July war defeat.
The Israeli paper Maariv said the sharp tension, witnessed recently by the Golan Heights, is linked to the activity of a third country, which is Russia, pointing out that the Russian messages has pushed Syria to prepare for the possibility of the eruption of war.
Jackson Diehl published an article in the Washington Post saying that the idea of democracy and Islam are discordant is about to receive a vehement criticism, pointing out that millions of Turks want the moderate religion of Erdogan and Gül, and that the election of Gul by the parliament is a democratic victory and proves that the Islamic political party can be moderate and liberal.
Reuters said that head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed Baradei issued a report which considered Tehran’s approval to answer basic questions related to its nuclear program as a very big step forward.
The Washington Post said a high-ranking official in the US Accountability Office has leaked a draft report, which said that the Iraqi government achieved only three goals out of 18 goals required by the US administration. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiar Zebari said in a press conference in Baghdad that the report of Petraeus and Crocker will not offer magical solutions to the Iraqi crisis and the early withdrawal will cause an international disaster.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said Berri will offer, in his speech, ideas concerning the solution and an interpretation for the conciliation’s failure, while As-Safir said president Lahoud proposed a transitional government under the chairmanship of the army’s leader. For its part An-Nahr said Botros Harb has nominated himself for presidency on the condition of agreeing on the quorum.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manarsaid: those who depend on foreign support sacrifice the homeland in order to occupy the chair. For its part, the NTV said the US ambassador did no express a clear stand towards the presidential merit. The OTV (which is close to the National Liberal Trend) said Feltman has conveyed a message to Nabih Berri which says that Washington is against the modification of the constitution and the obstruction of the presidential merit and will use all its powers to elect a president that expresses the balances of the current parliament.
The LBC said president Lahoud plans to authorize the army’s leader to form a transitional government if the elections fail.
The Future said that with the approach of the presidential merit, new stands and constitutional proposals appear.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: People’s Talk
Head of al-Maradah Trend Suleinam Frangié has revealed that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad warmly talks about former minister and representative Fares Bouez and the army’s leader Michel Suleiman, pointing out that president Bashar said that he respects Representative Michel Aoun. Frangié added that Syria has no problem with Representative Saad Hariri, and considers his stand as a natural reaction to the assassination of his father, but insists on boycotting Walid Jumblatt, who went too far.

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.