An Event and a Regional Trend

Some experts in the Israeli affairs have called for studying carefully the recent Israeli statements which talk about diffusing tension with Syria in the aftermath of the aggression launched by the Israeli warplanes, and Rice’s statements which said that Washington will not obstruct any endeavors for negotiations between Tel-Aviv and Damascus. The experts think that Israel and the US put Syria at the top of the list of targets in the coming stage. Meanwhile, the Israeli army continued its training, preparations and maneuvers which are hidden from the media and refer to the possibility of a war that targets Syria and Lebanon, which was a subject for discussion between Olmert and Bush’s administration for months.
The Israeli leaders express serious fears from the dangers of a regional war between Israel and Syria and talk a lot about Syria’s defensive capabilities, but they are determined to refuse the compromise’s term of references that the Syrian side stresses and which are the return to the line of June 4, Palestinian rights, the refugees and Jerusalem.
The Israeli political society, which has a consensus on refusing this framework for compromise, is bewildered in its options due to the continuous impotence before the Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and due to the Israeli army’s defeat before the Lebanese resistance. The Israeli commentators express concern from Syria’s declaration to keep the right to retaliate against the recent aggression and to keep the options for this retaliation secretive. Meanwhile, the Israeli papers publish scenarios about the events that may result from any military confrontation on the Golan front.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The assassination of the Representative Antoine Ghanem shook Lebanon and dominated all the political and press topics. The stands and comments focused on the crime’s timing before the date of the session that the House Speaker Nabih Berri called for to elect the president.
The leaders of March 14 alliance immediately accused Syria and Iran of committing the crime to obstruct the presidential merit, and while representative Walid Jumblatt called on the international community to interfere in the merit, which was considered a threat to internationalize the issue, The Lebanese Forces’ leader Samir Geagea considered the crime as a result of penetrations in the security organs. The representative Saad Hariri raised the slogan of saving the merit at any cost, suggesting his readiness to jump over constitutional considerations and coordinate with his two allies Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt.
The opposition leaders considered the assassination as an attempt to assassinate Nabih Berri’s initiative through terrifying the moderates inside March 14 alliance to prevent any response to the House Speaker’s efforts among the loyalists and suffocate the moderates, and this corresponds to the threats uttered by Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt against their allies that warned them from accepting the compromise.
Analysts and experts anticipate the next steps that the Americans will take to exploit the new assassination in their attempts to change Lebanon into a US platform, whose fires will be fueled by Washington’s policies.
In confronting this climate, which is charged with dangers, Nabih Berri stressed clinging to his initiative and his determination to continue his efforts. _ Some opponents said the assassination that targeted the Berri’s initiative, is also aimed at besieging the Arab and international climate that supports Berri’s endeavors in order to pose again the security topic in accordance with ready-made and known accusations, and to change the security of the representatives and their presence in Lebanon into an obstacle in the face of holding presidential elections in accordance with the constitution.

Arab and International Press

Jane’s Defense Weekly quoted western sources as saying that Iran has installed chemical warheads on the Syrian Scud missiles, saying that the explosion which erupted in a Syrian army barracks near Aleppo Last July resulted from mistakes in installing processes.
Arab and international press agencies said that the Israeli government announced Gaza as an "enemy zone", which means imposing more sanctions on the Palestinians.
Arab and international press said Rice supported this Israeli declaration against Gaza, adding that Hamas is also an enemy of the US.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said in its editorial that Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohmed Al-Baradei did not commit a crime when he said we should benefit from all the other options in dealing with Iran’s nuclear file before resorting to the use of force.
Al-Khaleej said that an Iranian delegation’s visit to Cairo, which was chaired by Assistant Foreign Minister Abbas Arakji, has raised again the talk about establishing relations between the two countries in the coming stage.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said: the assassination of Antoine Ghanem targeted conciliation, and that Washington used it to provoke Syria.
An-Nahar said the assassination is a bloody message to the majority and the presidential merit.
Al-Akhbar said the assassination threatens conciliation and opens the way for vacuum.

Arab Satellite Stations Interviews

News Covering
US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has called for holding presidential elections in Lebanon in accordance with the constitution and without foreign intervention, pointing out that the assassination of Antoine Ghanem is a blow to democracy.

Lebanese Television Stations’ News

Al-Manar said the assassination of representative Ghanem is a crime, while the NBN said the assassination aims at creating anarchy in the country. For its part, the OTV said Ghnem, the honest man, who clings to Lebanon’s sovereignty, is a new victim at the hand of crime and treachery.
The LBC said the assassination has targeted the half plus one quorum, while the Future said Ghanem was assassinated by the same killing machine that targets Lebanon’s symbols of sovereignty and freedom.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: People’s talk
General Michel Aoun said: the real killer is the one who uses the crime immediately and exploits it for political goals.
Representative Ali Hasan Khalil said: Berri will continue his initiative despite the painful assassination.
Journalist Georges Bakasin accused Syria of assassinating Antoine Ghanem, saying Lebanon will have a president even if only 10 representatives are left.

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.