An Event and a Regional Trend

The US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice starts her tour in the area from Tel Aviv where she will meet the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert, and later Palestinian president Mahomud Abbas in an attempt to save the Autumn conference which is destined to fail.
The US State Department announced that Rice will try to convince Olmert and Abbas to agree on a joint formula on the final status of the Palestinian condition, but this endeavor faces an Israeli stand that rejects any specific practical commitments on Jerusalem, the refugees right to return and the Palestinian state’s borders. Olmert stresses extracting security commitments which aim at changing the Palestinian authority into a proxy force like Lahd army and the villages’ links that the occupation forces established directly after 1967 war, which helped the Israeli intelligence to track the resistance’s activists.
Washington deals with the Israeli complex with the logic of adoption and marketing, working to force the Arabs to submit to its requirements. But Rice faces this time a problem in convincing Egypt and Saudi Arabia to attend a futile conference which does include anything new concerning the Palestinian cause while the US will employ it in a civil war that serves the interest of Israel.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The loyalists’ circles focused on the echoes of the representative Saad Hariri’s statements, an some press circles tried to portray them as the step that the house speaker Nabih Berri was waiting for as an answer to his initiative, while Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt continued their attack on the house speaker.
A leading representative from the opposition said that the frank and public commitment to the constitutional two thirds quorum for electing the president is the real and exclusive threshold for any responsive stand towards the initiative, adding that the opposition clings to this condition because resorting to the constitution and the two thirds quorum is the precise expression of the commitment to partnership and the talk about dialogue will be useless without commitment to this item.
Sources which are close to the loyalists said that Al-Hariri is serious in facilitating reaching a compromise and plays a role in limiting the extremism of his allies. Therefore, these sources call the house speaker and the opposition leadership to understand the condition inside March 14 alliance and stress that the intervention of the Future bloc leader led to big modifications in the final text.
The opposition sources believe that there is a distribution of roles among Al-Hariri, Jumblatt and Geagea, and the three coordinate together to gain time until October 14 in accordance with the US instructions.
The sources described Al-Hariri’s statements as playing with words and as social compliments demanded by Saudi Arabia while it seems that Al-Hariri’s coordination with the Socialist Progressive Party and the Lebanese Forces to prepare for the explosion - if Bush order this- is the real option of Sa’ad Al-Hariri and his supporters.

Arab and International Press

International press said that the statements of the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner against Iran caused political storms and division in France and among the European Union’s member states.
The press said that Saudi ministry of defense officially announced that it signed a contract to purchase 72 British Typhoon jet fighters with 8,858 billion dollars.
International Press Agencies said that Iran announced that Bernard Kouchner’s statements damage France’s credibility and it seems that the Elysee residents are imitating the White House residents.
Agence France Presse said Austrian foreign minister Ursula Plassnik vehemently criticized Bernard Kouchner because he warned form the dangers of the eruption of war with Iran saying that Kouchner is the only one who can clarify what he said.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said the US neocons are preparing for a new aggression that may target Syria and Lebanon.
Jim Hoagland said in an article published in Washington Post that the dreams of spreading democracy in the Arab states motivated Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 but the dreams changed into nightmares.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said Syria supports the election of a conciliatory president that protects resistance.
An-Nahar said Bkerké [the palace of the maronite patriarch] changed into a political beehive to search for a conciliatory president.
Al-Akhbar quoted a high ranking European official as saying the European union supports a compromise based on the two thirds quorum.

Television Stations in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Walid Jumblatt’s attack on the house speaker obstructs solutions.
The NTV said Bkerké witnesses condensed movements by the Vatican’s ambassador Luigi Gati.
The NBN quoted patriarch Sfeir as saying that holding elections outside the two thirds formula violates the constitution.
The OTV said the Lebanese people should choose their president without foreign intervention.
The LBC said it seems there is no solution in the horizon for the presidential elections’ crisis.
The Future said the Syrian authorities announced opening the crossings that link the Syrian-Lebanese borders after closing them for 3 months.

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.