An event and a Regional Trend

The press circles have focused on information leaked from Gulf sources concerning the supposed visit of Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Moallem to Saudi Arabia, which was announced by a Saudi official after canceling or delaying it.
The leaks revolve around marketing an idea which says that there was a dispute between Damascus and Riyadh on the techniques of the Syrian apologies concerning the statements of Syrian vice-president Farouk Chareh and if the apology will take place before the visit or after it.
An Arab diplomatic source, which closely followed up these stories, mocked their contents, saying we are sure that a mere talk about an apology before the Syrians was enough to cancel the principle of discussing any communication or visit, even if it was the Saudi king Abdallah’a visit to Damascus. The Syrians are convinced that their clarifications are enough, and the topic is done for them, and the Saudis know this very well. The source added that resorting to the leaks is enough to know that their justifications are not credible if they are issued by an official source, and that the real answer to understand the background of what happened lies in reading between the lines in the press conference, which was held by foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal, who said that his government may not participate in the conference that the U.S. president Bush called for under the title of solving the Palestinian cause. But this stand is not accomplished yet, according to what Arab leaders know about the Syrian reading of the conference, and the Syrians are waiting for the Saudis to announce a stand similar to that of the Egyptian president when he announced that a conference without Syria is determined to fail. The Saudis should also announce a stand to reject a campaign of public relations that does not answer the big questions in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and which wants to make the conference an American title for it. The Arab league Secretary General also said that the conference’s hidden goal is giving the Israelis the card of normalization, which they dream of without the return of Arab rights and lands.
As for the information of the Arab diplomatic source about the visit of the Syrian Foreign Minister to Riyadh, the source said the Saudis have committed a mistake when the official source announced delaying a visit that the two sides did not agree on, and whose conditions are not complete, and what Damascus said was closer to reality, because there was no date for the visit or may be the Syrians were waiting for the Saudi Foreign Minister’s visit to Damascus, not for Moallem’s visit to Riyadh, especially after the Israeli recent aggression on Syria, which requires announcing solidarity with it, especially since Riyadh did not condemn this aggression yet.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Official statements and circulated information confirm that Shaker Al-Absi and a number of the non-Syrian Arab leaders in Fatah Al-Islam group have escaped during the night of the military termination at Nahr Al-Bared camp. This new mystery which, preoccupies the Lebanese public opinion, poses new questions on the identity of the sides which are responsible for repeated operations for smuggling Fatah Al-Islam fighters out of the camp. The political and press sources have already talked about a certain security preparation for evacuating tens of Arab armed men from Naher Al-Bared camp and arranging their departure from Lebanon to Arab states, whose embassies worked to bring relatives of these fighters to Lebanon to secure communication with them and help them to leave Lebanon. One of the mysteries of this case is the operation for smuggling one of Fath Al-Islam leaders, Abu Horeira, who was killed in Tripoli in ambiguous circumstances.
The disappearance of Al-Absi, Abu Saleem Taha al-Doueissri and the three religious leaders of Fatah Al-Islam group (the last four are Saudis), hides with it many information and necessary facts to form a real story about Fatah Al-Islam operation. Opposing political sources said that the loyalists, who accused Syria of preparing Al-Bared operation, depending on Al-Absi’s infiltration through the Syrian borders, should answer dangerous questions on how Al-Absi and the other leaders’ escaped a besieged camp. Meanwhile, the information of the corridors talked about the involvement of some non-Syrian Arab intelligence organs in obliterating this case. This brings to mind the story of the US journalist Seymour Hersch and the series of American and European investigations and reports, which talked about the involvement of the US intelligence and the intelligence of two Arab states from Sharm el-Sheik’s alliance in a plan to sponsor Fatah Al-Islam and the Emirate of the north in a way similar to the northern Afghani alliance that opened the way for invading Afghanistan, through offering financial support an logistic facilitations for the armed men. The information also said that that Lebanese political and security officials were involved in this plan.
The complicated and entwining mystery resides now in the accumulated judicial files, but the recent runaway, or smuggling, as the opposing circles say, aims at obliterating many facts in the aftermath of killing the Lebanese leaders of Fatah Al-Islam in complicated circumstances while the Arab leaders left to Arab states, other than Syria.

Arab and International Press

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted Syrian Information Minister Mohsen Bilal as saying that some US officials’ accusations against Syria’s use of its lands to store North Korean nuclear equipments are a new lie that aims at covering the Israeli dilemma after the Israeli air raid on Syria.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said the US administration has mobilized some of its officials and press circles to justify the Israeli aggression on Syria through lies and fabrications.
Reuters said that Iran has belittled the importance of Petraeus’s and Crocker’s recommendations to reduce the number of forces about 30 thousand soldiers.
Agence France Presse said Iran expressed readiness to continue its talks with the US concerning the security condition in Iraq on the condition that these talks should be constructive not a mere entertainment.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that Beirut is like a beehive this week and Berry’s initiative is the center of the diplomatic movements.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said for the seventh day, the Israeli politicians abstained from commenting on their aggressive operation against Syria and Olmert ordered his ministers to keep silent concerning this issue.
Al-Bayan added that this silence aims at repairing the deterring force and restoring the lost prestige.
Los Angeles Times said US diplomats an military officials hold talks with members of Muktada Al-Sadr militia, considering this step as a coup in the US policy.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said March 14 forces announced a "mined" openness to Nabih Berry’ initiative through offering the opposition’s giving up of the two thirds quorum in return for giving up the half plus one quorum.
An-Nahar said the French foreign minister hopes for a consensus on the presidential candidate.
As-Safir said Terry Roed Larsen issued a new constitution for Lebanon when he said that the ordinary parliamentary majority can hold the presidential elections.
Al-Hayat said: General Michel Suleiman has announced that he agrees on an alternative government, saying the more powerful on the ground seizes the authority.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the March 14 forces finally announced their rejection of Berri’s initiatives through their conditions.
The NTV said diplomatic visits continue in Lebanon, while the NBN said finally the Saudi ambassador announced his support of Berri’s initiative. For its part the OTV said the current foreign and Arab visits to Beirut do not carry with them any new or serious content.
The LBC said crucial days precede the beginning of the constitutional deadline of the presidential term.
The Future said the Saudi Foreign Minister said Berri’s initiative is an opportunity that may lead to solution.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

The Future Program: The Merit
Presidential candidate Robert Ghanem said Lebanon is no longer able to stop the international tribunal, but should keep it within the framework of achieving justice and far from revenge, pointing out that disputes with Syria should be solved through dialogue.

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.