An Event and a Regional Trend

In the absence of any Arab interest or movement, especially in the capitals which are allies to the US, the siege in Gaza has jumped to the forefront of the Israeli discussions. While the Israeli right’s circles reveal their racial enthusiasm for this measure, the Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak and his team stress that they are trying the means which aim at pressurizing Hamas and the Palestinian factions after the failure of all the military means and due to the many dangerous obstacles that hinder a comprehensive invasion.
What makes the Israelis anxious is that the Gazans show readiness for confrontation in the various circumstances, because the political climate resulted, from Abbas – Olmert meetings, did not make any step related to the Palestinian rights. An despite the cooperation of the authority’s organs with the Israeli intelligence in chasing the resistance’s activists, and in imposing the siege on Gaza, and despite warnings from the high cost that Israel will pay on the international level due to collective punishment of the Palestinian people, a number of Israeli analysts predict a new intifada which will be more revolutionary than the previous ones. The analysts also said that if all the means fail it is better to negotiate the resistance men and the radicals in order to produce a permanent compromise.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Lebanese press and political circles focus on the tracks of the presidential merit and the media coverage in the last two days and this morning concentrated on the following indicators:
- 1. Formulating the declared US stands on the basis of the failure of conciliation. This reveals that there is a US decision to prevent understanding on a new president for the republic. The evidence on this is the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice’s warning from electing a president, who is illegitimate. At the same time the US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman announced that the US will not accept president Lahoud’s staying in power after the end of his term.
- 2. The Failure of the Christian endeavor to reach an agreement on a president. It was clear that the political conflict between the opposition and the loyalists has raised the number of candidates to 14 instead of limiting them to a specific number.
- 3. The movement of regional and international communications with Damascus, and especially the visit of the French delegate Kosran, and the possible visit of head of the Egyptian intelligence Omar Suleiman to Damascus. Iranian foreign minister Manuchehr Motaki will also arrive today in Damascus. Syria’s declaration to support Lebanese conciliation and the shift of the French stand from the policy of threats to dialogue with Syria, in addition to the Saudi news agency’s declaration about the visit of Omar Suleiman to Syria, all this opened the way for some predictions in the press about reaching a compromise under Syria’ sponsorship.
Foreign interactions seem governed by the date of Istanbul meeting and what will happen on the margin of this meeting on the level of international and regional communications concerning the Lebanese file.
On the local level, the political escalation dominates and it seems that some forces prepare themselves to the stage which will follow the failure of the conciliation.

Arab and International Press

The British paper the Sunday Times wondered if the military strike against ran is imminent, pointing out that the US forces demanded from the Congress dedicating 88 billion dollars to develop the stealth bombers B2 to carry a new bomb that can destroy underground installations.
Head of the office of the former Israeli prime minister Yitzhaq Rabin, Etan Happer said in an article published in Yidiot Aharonot that prime minister Ehud Olmert has proved, in a speech delivered on the occasion of Yitzhaq Rabin’s anniversary, that he is very cunning, pointing out that the Israeli officials’ inclination to peace stopped.
Yoram Shfitsser said in an article published in Ma’ariv that the tape that Osama Bin Laden released and which asked al-Qaeda fighters in Iraq to stop internal conflicts proved that the US achieves victory on al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The Israeli paper Ha’aretz said that after the deal with Iran, China proposed on Syria purchasing its new jet fighter which was built according to Western publications on the basis of the Israeli fighter Hlavi.
Uzi Benziman said in an article published in Ha’aretz that the sanctions on Gaza are immoral and should be cancelled, pointing out that some reports confirm that such sanctions will be futile.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program: The Day’s Harvest
Director of the international atomic energy agency Mohamed ElBaradei said that there are no evidences which prove that Iran has a nuclear program for military purposes at present.
ElBaradei said the Israeli raid on Syria was an attempt by Israel to apply the law by itself, and that he did not receive information from the Israelis and the Americans which confirm that the warplanes bombed a Syrian nuclear site.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said representative Walid Jumblatt paid homage to Fouad al-Sanyurah as prime minister while the Future Trend attacks Hezbollah.
An-Nahar said the political escalation aims at obstructing the initiatives, Hezbollah supports the Christian agreement on a president while Damascus said its views are identical with Cousseran’s concerning a conciliatory president.
Al-Akhbar said Fouad Siniora said he does not think the current communications will reach an understanding on the presidential file.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the shift in communications from the local level to the foreign level raises question marks on the results of internal meetings concerning the presidential merit.
The NTV said the French envoy Cousseran stressed that Paris wants to work with Damascus to find political solutions to the area’ files.
The NBN said the press and political circles look forward to the French envoy’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Damascus which will receive today Iranian foreign minister.
The OTV said Bkerki’s initiative ended and the official date for announcing this is next Tuesday.
The LBC said Bkerki’s efforts did not lead to clear answers, while the Future said the Iranian foreign minister Motaki’s visit to Syria is motivated by the Turkish threat to invade 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 in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.