An Event and a Regional Trend

In her Egyptian station, the US secretary of state proposed, for the first time, the option of delaying the conference that Bush called for under the Palestinian title, and did not assert that the new date will be January. This reflects the big US failure in the area and the embarrassment and reluctance of Washington’s Arab allies concerning the conference’s equation, which is based on the Israeli conditions. This equation provides for normalization and recognition in return for promises on the Palestinian track. The US will try to develop this normalization to a political and security alliance between the moderate Arabs and Israel against the Arabs of steadfastness and resistance, who refuse to submit to the US-Israeli domination on the area.
Cairo’s attempt to stress the timetable, which was rejected by Ehud Olmert, does not offer a practical solution to the complexes of the Palestinian track, which witnesses continuous delays of the dates since the Oslo Agreement in 1993. And despite the intervention of the US through the roadmap and the quartet, no guarantees were offered to the Palestinians concerning the final status.
The US delaying of the conference is result of the big Arab and international pressures, which aim at expanding the scope of the conference through inviting Syria, and modifying its agenda. What is essential in all this is a clear change the Israeli stand which is not available yet, and whatever the Israeli stand will be, Bush’s administration will absolutely support it and force its Arab allies to adapt with its demands.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Maronite Patriarchy’s initiative is stumbling and surrounded with blackout in order not to send negative messages about the possibility of an agreement on the president. The available press and political information said the idea of forming a joint committee from the loyalists and the opposition received quick support from General Michel Aoun and former minister Suleiman Frangie, while the level of representation, chosen by the loyalists lacks seriousness. Despite this, Bkerki seems careful to suggest that discussions continue and will reach an agreement on a list of names that can be adopted on the basis of the properties of the conciliatory presidential candidate, which was put by Sferi in his meeting with the house speaker, who will meet again, as anticipated, the patriarch after his consultations with head of he majority Saad Hariri.
The information said that the ministers of the European troika, who will arrive in Beirut on Friday, have informed Nabih Berri of their readiness to participate directly in consultations that lead to an agreement on the president. Meanwhile, the basis of conciliation provides for ruling out the numerous loyal candidates in order to name a candidate that meets the attributes proposed by General Aoun when he expressed his readiness to give up his natural nomination in return for a conciliatory president elected by the majority of the two thirds.
On the other hand, a number of political circles are worried about the results of the representative Walid Jumblatt’s tour in the US, which aims at provoking the US circles to adopt the option of exploding the Lebanese condition on the occasion of the presidential merit. This may lead to internal conflicts through wasting time until the last ten days of president Lahoud’s term, and electing Samir Geagea in a parliamentary meeting, chaired by deputy house speaker Fareed Makari outside the framework of the constitution.
Since the US decision is still delayed, the loyalists started to talk about the possibility of waiting for two months or three after the end of Emile Lahoud’s term. This was publicly announced by the loyal candidate Nassib Lahoud. This delay meets the endeavors of the prime minister Fouad Siniora’s government to stay in office, in case reconciliation is not achieved, in return for leaving president Lahoud in office. This possibility does not seem far from the list of the US options in Lebanon.

Arab and Foreign Press

Walter Rodgers said in an article published in Christian Science Monitor that there are reports which say that the White House and the Pentagon are considering launching war against Iran, pointing out that such war will serve Israel’s interests, and that Saudi Arabia looks forward to the collapse of Iran under the US military strikes.
The Washington Times said in its editorial that the changes made by general Petraeus in Iraq this year have achieved surprising success against Al-Qaeda.
Nicholas Blanford said in an article published in Christian Science Monitor that planting hashish in the Lebanese Beka valley is growing, although it is banned by Lebanese law, due to the security deterioration and the failure of encouraging the planting of different crops.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said the peace conference will be a public relations meeting and the evidence on this is that Rice has ruled out any important breakthroughs in it.
Al-Watan said in its editorial that the cards are mixed again in Lebanon. In the light of the dispute between the opposition and the loyalist on the president, Hezbollah exchanged captives and corpses with Israel.
The Israeli paper Yidiot Aharonot said that the Israelis and the Palestinians, who met Rice, have discovered that shed does not know exactly what her president Bush wants from her.
Arab and international press agencies said Damascus announced at the outset of president Bashar al-Assad to Turkey that the Israeli raid on Syria did not affect the two countries’ relations, and that Syria is against any threats against Turkey that start off from Iraqi lands.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said Secretary General of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah said the exchange operation with Israel is positive and a chance for a bigger achievement.
An-Nahar said the House Speaker Nabih Berri looks forward for sifting the names of presidential candidates, but he is waiting for al-Hariri.
Al-Akhbar said General Michel Aoun suggests a committee of leaders led by Patriarch Sfeir.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the resistance has fulfilled its promise to its people and returned to the homeland the corpses of two martyrs and a captive.
The NTV said the presidential merit did not take one step towards solution.
The NBN said a Parliamentary session has ended with appointing committees’ members as alternatives to the assassinated representatives.
The OTV said the event of the exchange between Hezbollah and Israel dominates the Lebanese political scene.
The LBC said the Christian-Christian conciliation does not seem possible.
The Future said Lebanon is still captivated by its complicated crisis, waiting for a light in the tunnel.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Special Statement
Secretary General of Hezbollah Hasan Nasrallah said the exchange operation with Israel is limited and specific, and the issue is not an issue of numbers but humanitarian, pointing out that this may lead to a better progress.

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.