An Event and a Regional Trend

The statement issued by the Arab foreign ministers’ council, which stressed the necessity of the participation of Syria and Lebanon in the international conference that president Bush called for, reveals the US attempts’ failure to push the Arab area to internal confrontations on the basis of forcing Washington’s friendly governments to form an alliance with Israel and cover the project of eliminating the Palestinian cause.
An Arab diplomatic source said: Cairo has played a basic role in reaching this result which does not seem sufficient concerning the concerned capitals’ non-participation in the conference if its quorum remains incomplete or if its agenda remains a hostage to the Israeli priorities, far from the concept of the comprehensive compromise, the unity of tracks, and the Palestinian national rights with their known terms of references, including the state, the right to return and Jerusalem.
The sources added that the lesson will be in the stand that Riyadh and Cairo will inform secretary of state Condoleezza Rice about during her tour in the area, which will start by her meeting with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian chairman Mahmoud Abbas to explore the possible limits for a declaration of principles on the Palestinian topic which will be the ultimate result of the conference in return for new Arab recognitions of Israel and a complete normalization process and issuing a resolution by the conference to cancel the Palestinian refugees’ right to return and the items of the resolution 194, without any practical steps related to the final solution.
The press circles looked forward to what might happen on the level of Egyptian-Saudi-Syrian relations, in the shadow of the circulated information about the Egyptian endeavors to reactivate this Arab triangle. The information said that the absence of the Saudi foreign minister has delayed a ministerial tripartite meeting that Egyptian foreign minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit tried to arrange. The information confirmed that the Saudi minister did not attend for health reasons and this does not bear press interpretation, especially after the atmospheres between Damascus and Riyadh has entered a state of truce after the escalation of the previous weeks.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Discussions on house speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative continued especially after he officially invited the representatives for holding an official session to elect the republic’s president in the morning of September 25, while, at the same time, the observers follow up the unannounced discussions in Rome where the patriarch Sfeir is present.
Some information said that the US assistant secretary of state David Welch and the French ambassador Jean-Claude Cousseran’s visit to Rome coincide with Syrian vice-president Farouk Chareh and the Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal visits to the same place in the shadow of unconfirmed information which said that General Michel Aoun and representative Saad Hariri will head for Rome too.
Beirut’s press and political corridors are busy depicting tiny threads that refer to international and regional discussions whose center is the presidential merit, while anxiety is doubled among the loyalists in accordance with parliamentary sources, which also revealed increasing parliamentary support to Berri’s initiative, and specifically to the two thirds quorum principle that the Maronite patriarch stressed commitment to before heading for the Vatican.
The representatives, who contacted House Speaker Berri or sent support messages to him belong to loyal parliamentary blocs.
The same sources said that the ice ball my grow in the coming days in a way which will make it difficult to bet on the half plus one quorum if the US decides to move on an explosive track on the Lebanese level, then the choice of electing the president with the present representatives will be the outlet for the loyalists and in this state, the parliamentary majority will find itself obliged to meet to find a constitutional outlet in order to confront a scandalous coup. This means that the majority will support the step that House Speaker Berri and president Lahoud may agree on to face the coup and prevent the vacuum.
The opposing sources warned from any encirclement of Berri’s initiative through the Forces’ Leader Samir Geagea’s statements and what the representative Jumblatt may issue through concentration on an item of the initiative related to dialogue on the merit with the continuity of clinging to the theory of the half plus one. The two thirds quorum is the principle on which the initiative is based and it is an obligatory principle for agreement on the merit in the shadow of the current votes inside the parliament.

Arab and International Press

Thomas Friedman said in an article published in the New York Times that he saw three contradictory scenes during his visit to Iraq and it is difficult to talk about a specific trend, pointing out that Iraq has become a center for regional and international policies and that the Americans are unable to push democracy in Iraq forward.
The Former Knesset member Azmi Bsharah said in an article published in the Emirate paper Al-Khaleej that the mind says that America will not launch a war on Iraq, because the results of such a war will be disastrous and will change Iraq into a hostage in the hands of Tehran.
Al-Khaleej said in its editorial that there are many signs which show that the US forces are no longer able to stay in Iraq and that the US strategy faces continuous failures on the ground.
United Press International said that Iran announced yesterday that its foreign policy is based on the principle of good relations with neighboring states, respecting other states’ sovereignty and developing relations with them on all the levels.
International Press Agencies quoted the European Union’s foreign relations and Security Policy Higher Coordinator Javier Solana as saying that a series of movements that aim at achieving peace will start after 3 weeks, while the Italian prime minister set conditions for Syria’s participation in the international peace conference.
The Associated Press said that officials at the US Pentagon have decided to open investigations into the flight of a US strategic bomber which is armed with nuclear missiles for 3 hours over a US state.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar wondered if the Vatican will sponsor a compromise on a transitional president, pointing out that a Syrian witness, close to Abdel Halim Khaddam, appeared in the crime of Al-Hariri’s assassination.
As-Safir said the results of the DNA tests on Fatah Al-Islam leader Shaker Al-Absi were negative. For its part, An-Nahar added that the tests did not prove Al-Absi’s identity and doubts on his destiny increased,

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said House Speaker Berri called for holding a session to elect the president in accordance with the constitution, to show that the opposition does not hamper the presidential merit.
The NTV said all of them headed for Rome, but Syrian vice-president Farouk Chareh outraced everybody to the Vatican and conveyed a message from President Bashar Al-Assad to the Pope, a few hours before the pontif’s meeting with the Israeli president Shimon Perez.
The NBN said leader of the army Michel Suleiman stressed that national unity is the guarantee for victory not the political and sectarian exploitation of this victory.
The OTV said the DNA tests proved that the corpse which exists in Tripoli hospital does not belong to Shaker Al-Absi, wondering: where is his corpse?
The LBC wondered if the presidential elections will take place in their on time.
The Future said the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit and higher coordinator of the European Union Foreign Policy Javier Solana have agreed on clinging to presidential merit in its date.

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.