An Event and a Regional Trend

The US policy in the area faces a complicated situation in its attempts to guarantee the success of Bush’s international conference on the Palestinian issue. Within this framework, it is clear that the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s anticipated visit to the area aims at exploring the actual possibilities to hold this conference after president Hosni Mubarak set Syria’s participation as a pre-condition and called for a Palestinian dialogue that provides a comprehensive cover for the Palestinian participation in this conference. The Egyptian stand has its own weight and indicators, which are related to the calculations of the regional condition, and the internal Egyptian condition and the living and continuous interconnections between Egypt and the Palestinian topic, in which Cairo played a vital role since the Oslo agreement.
On the Saudi level, the press conference of the Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal has conveyed negative signs concerning the Saudi participation. In this respect, the observers think that the kingdom’s calculations led it to reservation about attending a conference, which aims at getting its signature on a direct meeting with Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert in return for a declaration of principle that does not include any field commitments concerning the Palestinian question in accordance with what al-Faisal demanded in addition to the comprehensiveness of the compromise. Saudi internal and regional calculations may outweigh the rejection of participation or delaying the conference until getting Israeli clear commitments. These calculations also start off from Saudi considerations since Saudi Arabia is the sponsor of the Mecca agreement and the Arab peace initiative. Jumping over these two truths will directly reflect on Saudi Arabia and oblige it to make precise calculations in dealing with the US offer. Analysts say that it is probable that Israel may advise Rice to give up this topic and change it with Tony Blair’s shuttle diplomacy, since Israel’s leaders expect a new intifada in case the US insists on holding the conference.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

House Speaker Nabih Berri has revealed, in a televised talk yesterday, that there are two issues that surround the stands and movements related to his initiative that aims at solving the constitutional and political crisis. Berri considered that there is a close connection between the stand of March 14 alliance after the Bekfaya meeting and the statements of Terry Roed Larsen about the necessity of the new Lebanese president’s commitment to the implementation of the resolution 1559, which is still a point of dispute among the Lebanese sides. This connection applies also to the stand towards the constitutional quorum of the presidential electoral session. The House Speaker condemned Larsen’s intervention while the UN secretary general was surprised by his statements and said he will summon his delegate to know the truth from him. What is essential in Larsen’s statements according to analysts is the point that Berri referred to concerning the international resolutions and specifically the resistance’ weapons and interference in the issue of the quorum to market the theory of the half plus one, which is still the US reserve line to detonate the Lebanese condition in the last ten days of president Lahoud’s term.
The second thing revealed by House Speaker Berri is the trap which is implied in the loyalists’ statement through the attempt to redirect the discussion to concentrate it on the personality of the president after neutralizing the topic of the quorum under the title of dialogue without conditions. Berry described this as generalizing a death notice in a rosy envelope.
Some of the loyal sides are determined to hold the half plus one meeting under the pretext of the parliament’s legal meeting in the last ten days of the current presidential term, but some experts in the constitution pointed out that the call for holding the parliamentary meeting has become an exclusive right for Berri when he set the date for holding the first session on September 25, and that the two thirds quorum became also a condition for holding the session.
Opposing sources confirm that the half plus one quorum of representatives is not available among the loyalists and that there are parliamentary discussions to announce a constitutional bloc, which consists of representatives, who will stress their bias to the two thirds quorum and refuse participation in any session or meeting outside this framework.
The sources call for anticipating a parliamentary movement, which will change the map in the coming weeks, so the parliament will consist of three basic blocs: the loyal, the opposition and the moderates.

Arab and International Press

The Iranian paper Mulli quoted the new leader of the revolutionary guards as saying that his forces will fight a guerrilla war against the US forces if America attacks Iran and carry out the plan adopted by Hezbollah during the July war on Lebanon.
The Iranian paper Jamhuriyah Islamiyah quoted director general of the international atomic energy agency Mohamed Barad’e as saying that the agency did not record any banned activity in Iran’s nuclear installations.
Los Angeles Times newspaper said in its editorial that the US war on terror, which entered its sixths year, may distort the image of America in the coming generations.
Los Angeles Times said in an article that US military officials and diplomats held talks with members of Mugtada Al-Sadr militia, pointing out that this step proves that Al-Sadr occupies an important status in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.
Arab news agencies said the assassination of head of Al-Anbar renaissance’s conference by al-Qaeda has shaken the US strategy which boasted of its success in Al-Anbar.
The US press said the European Union tries to prevent the US Congress from imposing sanctions on foreign companies that deal with Iran.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said in its editorial that the report, published by the UN about the world, is stunning and that the organized crime dominates the world.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said house speaker Berri found an insult in March 14 alliance’s answer to his initiative.
An-Nahar said French foreign minister Kouchner called Syria not to interfere in Lebanon.
As-Safir said house speaker Berri surpassed the perplexity of the majority when he said that our hand is extended for conciliation.
Al-Akhbar said Berri stressed conciliation or anarchy.

Arab Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Special Covering

US president George Bush has responded to the recommendations of Petraeus/Crocker report by announcing the withdrawal of a limited number of the US forces from Iraq.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the February forces finally rejected Berri’s initiative through a basket of conditions.
The NTV said big hopes are not pinned on the French foreign minister’s visit to Lebanon.
The NBN said February 14th’ rejection of Berri’s initiative coincided with the Saudi ambassador’s return to his country again.
The OTV said amid the mystery of the Israeli raid on Syria, the deterioration of relations between Syria and Saudi Arabia, and the influence of this on Washington’s conference, Lebanon is waiting for breaking the ice.
The LBC said the opposition circles did not suggest any relief concerning the loyalists’ stand.
The Future said that General Aoun considered the majority’s statement as a rejection of Berri’s initiative that aims at escalating the situation.

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.