An Event and a Regional Trend

The important event in the area, and maybe in the world, is Iraq’s neighboring states’ conference in Istanbul. The other meetings, which will be held on the margin of this conference, are substantially important like the agenda of this conference, which will also deal with the Turkish dimension in the recent event in the shadow of the US secret support of the Kurdish rebel. As for the Iraqi issue, the conference will build on the two previous meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh and Baghdad, while press and political sources look forward to the discussions concerning Lebanon and Annapolis conference.
The Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers are the two stars of the conference, and the Turkish presence with them will be distinguished. The Syrian and Iranian side will hold meetings with French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who plays the role of the US mediator, to reach understandings to reduce the tensions resulted from the US continuous failure and the dangers of the high cost of the US policy that Bush’ administration is trying to avoid in all the hot files.
Istanbul’s meeting expresses strongly Bush’s administration’s submission to the Syria-Iranian vision concerning the agenda of the conference. The US will be obliged to work in accordance with Baker-Hamilton recommendations in order to discuss with Syria and Iran regional and bilateral issues and files, in addition to the Iraqi issue that the Americans tried to limit discussions to it, since the beginning of Iraq’ neighboring states’ meetings and other secret and public communications with Tehran and Damascus.

Lebanon

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The dialogue held in Paris between General Michel Aoun and Representative Saad Hariri has generated a deep confidence and trust on the front of the opposition, which considered Aoun’s response to its options and stands as a new achievement for its initiative and conciliatory option. The speech made by Hezbollah’s secretary general in this respect expressed to the public opinion in Lebanon that the opposition supports the logic of compromise and national understanding. But the loyalists continued their political escalation and denied that representative al-Hariri is authorized to negotiate General Aoun or the House Speaker Nabih Berri.
The leaked information about Paris’s meetings reveals three main conclusions:
- 1. Al-Hariri and the loyalists cling to the rejection of naming the Christian leader, who enjoys the biggest representation as a presidential candidate and call him to become a voter.
- 2. The dialogue between the opposition and the loyalists should shift to discuss how to deal with the difficulty of electing a president within the constitutional framework. Some observers think that David Welch stands behind this.
- 3. The presence of an American decision that prevents conciliation and the attempt to curb any movement by the opposition or president Lahoud that may cause a big cost for the US and its Lebanese allies.

Arab and International Press

The New York Times wonders, in one of its articles, who will succeed the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, pointing out that the US is closely watching this issue in order not to find itself in a dilemma like the one in Lebanon after the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri.
Director of the US Foreign Policy’s National Committee Project David Philips said in an article published in Boston Globe that huge pressures are exerted on Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan to move against the PKK, but the attack on north Iraq will lead to dangerous consequences like threatening the Turkish democratic development, increasing the extremism of the Kurdish groups, and destabilizing the area as a whole.
Dan Murphy says in an article published in Christian Science Monitor that the nuclear ambition of the Iran has pushed 13 Sunni states in the Middle East to announce projects for nuclear energy this year.
The Iranian paper Goya said university students form a dilemma for some leaders of the Iranian regime, and there are serious disputes among high ranking officials on ways of dealing with them.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said General Aoun hasd clung to his nomination for presidency and called for agreeing on the president’s program.
An-Nahar said Secretary General of Hezbollah has expressed happiness concerning the meeting between Aoun and al-Hariri.
As-Safir said the vacuum is approaching while Lebanon’s file will be a main point in the agenda of the US-French summit in Washington, next week.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said people are looking forward to the Paris meetings which seems positive.
The NTV said Paris meeting’s results will not lead to anything when they confront reality.
The NBN said optimism beats the language of escalation and Paris meetings contributed to this.
The OTV said the meetings between Aoun and al-Hariri reflect good atmospheres between he two sides.
The LBC said Aoun and al-Hariri have agreed to accomplish their talks in Lebanon.
The Future said Paris and Istanbul meetings are very important for the presidential file.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar
Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah said his party insists on conciliation despite the calls for escalation that want to push the country to confrontation,
He also called for adopting a clear stand towards the Israeli continuous violations of the Lebanese sovereignty.

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.