An Event and a Regional Trend

President Bashar al-Assad’s visit’s to Turkey has attracted the attention of the political and press circles in the area and abroad. It represents an important station in the bilateral relations between the two countries due to their common interests in the Iraqi explosive developements and their implied danger, and also in the light of the known Turkish endeavors to encourage the logic of direct negotiations and compromises on the line of US-Syrian relations, and Ankara’s assiduous work to reduce tension which carries the possibilities of war in the area.
The Turkish dimension in the Syrian strategy has achieved big successes in the last critical years, in addition to a big progress in the economic relations between the two countries. The two sides also closely cooperated in the Iraqi file through the formula of the neighboring states which was encouraged by Syria through direct communications with Iran and Turkey a few years ago. This formula was able, since the US invasion, to establish a regional framework to reduce the size of negative reflections of the Iraqi event on the area’s level. The Turkish response to Syria’s proposals concerning Iraq’s unity and sovereignty expressed always a joint interest in curbing the strategy of the rolling anarchy that the US neoconservatives betted on using to explode the area’s entities and big states.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Maronite Patriarchy’s consultations have revealed that the Vatican has a serious intention to contribute to reach an agreement on a new president for the republic. The circulated press and political news said that the Papal Embassy closely follows up the current communications and endeavors in Lebanon and informs Rome about the episodes and receives the suitable instructions.
The criterion reached by the house speaker during his meeting with patriarch Sfeir is based on selecting a conciliatory president from outside the two camps of the loyalists and the opposition. Bkerki was surprised by the stand of General Michel Aoun, who stressed his readiness to facilitate agreement on a new president, which should be elected by the two thirds of the representatives, although he is the most prominent and popular presidential candidate. But Samir Geagea informed his allies that he will be the candidate for the battle (electing the president with the half plus one quorum). This means omitting the nomination of Nassib Lahoud, Boutrous Harb and Robetr Ghanem in accordance with the agreement rule that Berri and Sfeir agreed on through ruling out the candidates that belong to the loyalists or the opposition in case conciliation is achieved (which means electing the president with the two thirds quorum). Political sources that follow up the current communications think that each of the three leaders of the loyalists has his own complex that governs its calculations:
- The US informed al-Hariri that Fouad Siniora will stay in office. This means distancing Saad Hariri from this position that he aspires to. This is a real complex that preoccupies head of the Future Bloc.
- Jumblatt fears agreement on a president and tries to explore the reality of the American calculations. He behaves through the complex of the possibility of the US negotiations with Syria and Iran which may lead to the election of the army’s leader Michel Suleiman.
- Geagea behaves through the complex that Michel Aoun will be the winner in any agreement due to his representational size and popular weight. Hence, Geagea bets on confrontation to tighten the grip of his militia on the Christian street, and proposes himself as a president chosen by the loyalists through a US support.

Arab and Foreign Press

The New York Times said in it editorial that the greed of the powerful personalities in the Kurdish regional government and the foreign companies for the oil deals is another evidence on the confusion that paralyses Iraq, and the inability of the US to do anything concerning this confusion.
The Washington Times warned from the danger of the condition in Turkey after the increase of violent actions by Kurdish terrorists, who are positioned in north Iraq and especially after the Congress’s resolution that considers the killing of the Armenians as a genocide.
The paper added that this has created a dangerous situation on the Turkish-Iraqi borders, which may threaten the safety of the logistics line to the US forces in Iraq. — The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said in its editorial that most of the Arab states deal with Bush’s peace conference as if it’s the promised day of conquer, although all the previous experiences proved that it is impossible to pin hopes on such conferences.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice tours the area’s states under the title of the mediator and its mediation is double: she is trying to bridge the gap between Olmert and his ministers on the one hand, and between Israel and the Palestinian authority on the other.
The paper added that if the US does not force Israel to establish the Palestinian state, nothing will happen in this respect.
The reserve general in the Israeli army Moshe Yaloun exploded a new provocative bomb against the Arabs in an article published in Yidiot Aharonot, which calls the West to adopt an international strategy to launch a comprehensive war against the Jihadist Islam, including economic sanctions against rogue states like Syria and Iran, and against organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Lebanese Papers

As-Safir said the exchange operation between Hezbollah and Israel is a sign of good intentions that may open the door for a bigger exchange for releasing Lebanese captives from Israeli prisons.
The paper pointed out that the Lebanese army has revealed a Palestinian fundamentalist organization, which was planning to attack the UNIFIL forces.
An-Nahar said the exchange operation between Israel and Hezbollah reflects good intentions.
The paper pointed out that the Arab answers to a French endeavor to expand the European delegation which will visit Lebanon were negative.
Al-Akhbar said Hezbollah said that it will announce the details of the exchange operation with Israel today.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar raised questions on Rice’s tour in the area, the Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak’s visit to the US and Walid Jumblatt’s visit to the US to provoke against Syria and Iran as he admitted.
The NTV said Germany has mediated in the exchange operation between Hezbollah and Israel.
The NTV said the line of Ain At-Tineh – Qretem is waiting for the return of representative Saad Hariri to continue his meetings with the House Speaker Berri.
The OTV said the basic forces of the authority’s Christians will be absent from the follow-up committee, while those who do not enjoy parliamentary and ministerial representation will be in it.
The LBC wondered about the destiny of Bkerki’s initiative and the follow-up committee, while the Future said the Maronite-Maronites communications, sponsored by Bkerki, are stagnant.

Television stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar
Program : Between two Brackets
The expert in Turkish-Kurdish affairs Mohamed Nur Addin said the US occupation of Iraq negatively reflected on the Turkish-US relations, pointing out that after the occupation of Iraq, Turkey adopted the policy of patience but the crisis escalated between the two states due to the changes in Kurdistan and the workers party’s operations against Turkey.
The expert added that there is no unified stand inside Turkey concerning the way to deal with north Iraq.

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.