An Event and a Regional Trend

The US goes far in adopting the Israeli conditions concerning the Palestinian track and that was clear in Washington’s rejection of a declaration of a timetable at Annapolis conference. Meanwhile, Israel continues its collective punishment of the Palestinian people and its military operations and aggressions in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak said the siege is an introductory step for the military invasion of Gaza, while the Palestinian factions gave president Abbas a new political deadline through delaying the national conference which will be held in Damascus until holding Annapolis conference, but the Arab governments , which revolve in the US orbit, did not announce any serious stand towards the Israeli plan or Bush’s conference despite the accumulated evidence on the impotence of the initiatives and the racial crimes against humanity that the occupation commits in Gaza and the West Bank, which raise the concern of the Israeli circles, while the governments of Sharm el-Sheikh’s group abstain from adopting any stand in order not to disturb the US administration.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Walid Jumblatt and Saad Hariri launched yesterday a high wave of escalation while their ally Samir Geagea continued targeting Hezbollah and the opposition. This indicates a general tendency to stop the track of negotiations launched by the house speaker. Some press and political sources pin hopes on foreign communications which may lead to the meeting of Arab and foreign ministers in Istanbul on the margin of the Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting.
The circulated political data indicate that the international and regional movements express an American desire to curb the opposition and prevent it from taking any steps that change the Lebanese equation if the loyalists elect a president outside the constitutional framework. This requires asking Syria and Iran to pressurize the opposition in order not to take any measure that may threaten what the Americans call as the achievements of the Rice Revolution in return of opening communication channels and negotiations on the explosive files in the area.
What is new is the determination of Jumblatt and Geagea to adopt the plus half one quorum and Jumblatt’s talk about forming an Arab and international support group led by the US to impose the recognition of the loyal authority’s legitimacy.
There is also a general tendency to transfer authority of Al-Siniora’s government if it becomes clear that there are no serious guarantees to avoid the high cost of internal confrontation.
Meanwhile, anticipation and anxiety dominate the Lebanese street which is busy with the deployment of the centers established by security companies in the north and in some of the capital’s neighborhoods, while some loyal sources talk about possible internal confrontations and an Israeli imminent aggression on Syria that may change balances in Lebanon to their benefit.

Arab and International Press

The Washington Post said in an article that the US intelligence’s expenditure this year surpassed 40 billion dollars.
The Washington Post wondered if the satellite images of a site in Syria are really for a nuclear reactor under construction, pointing out that the White House’s scandal concerning the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq may be the reason for the US silence over the Syrian issue.
Tulin Daloglo wondered in an article published in the Washington Times why many Western states describe the PKK as freedom fighters, saying that their leader Abadallah Ocalan claimed that he fought Ankara to force it to give the Kurds their linguistic and cultural rights.
Christian Science Monitor said that the US press does not cover the news of the anti-war protests, calling on it to educate people about these democratic activities.
Yarun Shur said in an article published in some newspapers that the Israeli press thinks that Annapolis conference will fail and this will dangerously affect the two sides’ vital interests.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Program: The Opposite Direction
Professor at al-Azhar university Ibrahim al-Khuli said submission to the West is unacceptable by Islam and we should understand the importance of the unified Islamic project.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said ambiguity wraps the possible compromise while Saad Hariri talked about attempts to assassinate him and al-Siniora after his meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
Al-Akhbar said a tripartite Maronite committee was formed to choose the president.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

The NBN said head of the Egyptian intelligence will head for Damascus after Sa’ad al-Hariri accused head of the Syrian intelligence Asef Shawkat of planning to assassinate him and prime minister al-Sanyurah.
The LBC said the meeting between Saad Hariri and Michel Aoun in Paris will fail.
The Future said the Egyptian support for Lebanon was manifested in the meeting between president Mubarka and Saad Hariri.
The NTV said Paris sets solving the Lebanese crisis as a condition for openness to Syria.
Al-Manar wondered if the regional and international meetings will lead to a solution.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: A special Interview
Head of the phangalists party Amine Gemayel said Annapolis conference should focus on solving real problems like the refugees, the Golan, Sheba farms, Palestinian lands and settling Palestinians.
Head of the Democratic party Talal Arsalan said any peace conference without Syria is destined to fail.

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.