An Event and a Regional Trend

Arab and international circles have focused on the Syrian official statement, which announced that the Syrian forces have confronted an Israeli violation of the Syrian airspace.
The international circles concentrated on the climate of tension between Syria and Israel which escalated recently and the continuous Israeli statements about the possibility of the eruption of a war on the Syrian and Lebanese front. The press reports contained data which said such development is probable, and this data depended on the results of the July war and the US administration’s wish to guarantee the protection of Israel from the results of the failure in Iraq which may witness a surprising withdrawal for the US troops.
The Israeli denial did not change the credibility of the item of news after issuing the Syrian military statement. Analysts said Israel has failed in achieving the goal of its violation of the Syrian airspace which probably aimed at exploring the modern Syrian weapons and equipment. Some experts said that the process of exploring the possible tracks in the Syrian space and knowing the range of the Syrian radars and anti-aircraft weapons, and consequently the Israeli denial resulted in a complete failure, while the Syrian declaration was a political decision to show a high defensive readiness, expressed by the Syrian anti-aircraft weapons’ quick movement to prevent the Israeli warplanes from approaching and force them to get rid of additional fuel containers. Some military experts in Beirut said the Israeli warplanes get rid of these containers if they are chased and it is possible that the Syrian Mig-23 did this.
This new test of power that Syria has won raises the level of expectations on the possibility of the eruption of an Arab-Israeli war on the Syrian and Lebanese front with occupied Palestine, because Tel-Aviv fears the development of Syria’s and Hezbollah’s capabilities and their direct reflection on conditions inside occupied Palestine after Israel had lost in the July war the feature of the deterrence prestige, achieved since the June war in 1967.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The stand that the representative Walid Jumblatt announced yesterday towards House Speaker Nabih Berri’s initiative concentrated in its rejection of the initiative on the topic of the two thirds quorum and clinging to the card of calling for a parliamentary meeting anywhere to name a president with the quorum of the half plus one. Observers and analysts focused on Jumblatt’s frank statements on the possibility of the resort of some of his allies in March 14 alliance to political compromise, while political and press corridors in Lebanon said that Saudi Arabia and the US have agreed on reaching a conciliatory agreement to elect the president and that the discussions that cover Syria, France, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the US may lead to a compromise that all these states support, because Washington’s calculations show that confrontation in Lebanon will make America lose all its cards in this country because the balance of powers, according to the US reports, allows the opposition to terminate the situation in an unexpected fastness especially after the army became more powerful after Nahr Al-Bared battles .This also prevents betting on the consequences of anarchy and makes the political and popular balance the reference for forming the equations. The final official indicators in the US stands did not confirm the circulated information, but the sources said that it is possible that representative Saad Hariri conveyed a positive stand to house speaker Nabih Berri. For this reason, Walid Jumblatt announced that he can depend, in the case of resorting to compromise, on the six representatives of the Socialist Progressive Party who will be outside it.
Informed loyal sources reject to assert this scenario, but they do not deny the existence of differences concerning the compromise and believe that if the Future Trend was obliged to accept any agreement on the president in accordance with Berri’s initiative, it is probable that Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt will stay outside the compromise and preserve the margin of continuing the conflict with the opposition in the new term and until the coming parliamentary elections.
Some analysts confirm that the loyalists have lost the card of the half plus one and this change in the parliamentary stands is one of the main motives for the possibility of representative Saad Hariri’s response to Berri’s initiative.

Arab and International Press

International press agencies said news were contradictory concerning Damascus’s declaration that the Israeli warplanes bombed targets inside Syria. Syria said this Israeli violation is an evidence on Ehud Olmert’s aggressive tendency and refutes Israel’s allegations that it does not want war with Syria.
The press quoted Israeli sources as saying that the Israeli warplanes carry out traditional activities in the area’s space for intelligence goals and that the violation aims at exploring the new Syrian defensive weapons.
The British paper The Independent said the US analysts became recently more sharp in their criticisms of the British forces’ performance in South Iraq and that a CIA reports says that the sharpness of violence has increased in Basra in the light of the division that weakened the efficiency of the coalition forces there, pointing out that blaming the British for this is an attempt to find a scapegoat.
The Spanish paper El Pais quoted former US president Jimmy Carter as saying that president Bush developed his stands to correspond to the public opinion. He promised to reduce forces in Iraq and called for holding an international conference on peace in the Middle East and this means he will listen to the Democrats’ and Republicans’ opinions.
The Washington Post said that Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf refused for 8 years any conciliation with the secular parties in the country, preferring to prolong the age of his regime through agreements with Islamic extremists, forged elections and modifications in the constitution and simple repression, but he finds himself now in a critical stage that pushes him to negotiate the secular parties to prevent the fall of his government.
Paul Bremer, Iraq’s proconsul (2003-2004) said in an article published by the New York Times that it is time to admit that the disbanding of the Iraqi army was a mistake and ran counter to the US pre-war planning.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said that Syria’s declaration about confronting Israeli warplanes has perplexed the Israeli entity and this was manifested in abstaining from denying the news or confirming them.
As-Safir said the Israeli warplanes’ violation of the Syrian airspace aimed at testing Damascus’s wakefulness.
The Saudi paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted experts as saying that the Israeli warplanes wanted to test Syria’s defensive capabilities.
An-Nahar said that Walid Jumblatt and his representatives have rejected the two thirds quorum to elect the president.

Arab Satellite Stations’ News

Al-Alam
Program: Special Statement
Syria’ ambassador to the UN Bashar Al-Ja’fari said that Syria carefully studies the way of suitable retaliation against the recent Israeli air attack that targeted a number of areas in the Syrian lands.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said: recent developments like the new peace conference, which Syria will not attend and the Israeli military exercises in the Golan and the statement on the possibility of war between Syria and Israel raise many questions.
The NTV said Lebanese, Syrian, Saudi and French delegations, involved in the presidential merit, headed for Rome.
The NBN said Berri’s call for holding a session to elect the president put the presidential merit on the constitutional track,
The OTV said General Aoun returned to Beirut and met House Speaker Berri.
The LBC wondered why the Israeli warplanes violated the Syrian airspace over Lattakia far from the Golan and Damascus.
The Future said the Israeli violation of the Syrian airspace takes place in the shadow of tension between Syria and Iran on the one hand, and Syria and the US on the other.

Television Stations’ News Interviews in Lebanon

LBC
Program: Folks’ Speech
Representative Walid Jumblatt announced his rejection of the two thirds quorum for electing the president describing it as an obstruction of the parliament after the third which obstructed the government.
Jumblatt added that he wants a president that commits to the March 14 goals which are freedom, sovereignty, independence and justice and does not accept compromise on these principles.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.