An Event and a Regional Event

The Arab governments which are part of Sahrm el-Sheikh alliance face critical questions about their stand towards the American call for attending the Annapolis conference and these questions are especially posed on Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
A number of experts endorse the opinion which says that the conference will offer two awards:
- The first is for president Bush and his administration, who are under pressures due to the failure in Iraq. They receive sharp criticisms concerning other Middle Eastern policies, and especially the peace process.
- The second prize is for Israel and its prime minister Ehud Olmert, who passes in difficult conditions resulted from his defeat in Lebanon. Israel wants the conference to be a platform to pressurize Arab governments to expand the circle of normalization with Israel. On the other hand, Israel wants Abbas to participate in its campaign for eliminating the resistance groups. This pushed Israeli analysts to predict a new intifada as a result of the Annapolis conference.
Egypt and Jordan are organically intersected on the level of geography with the West Bank and Gaza. For this reason they will face a difficult situation that may result from dropping the right to return. Saudi Arabia will be embarrassed from the US demands concerning normalization with Israel in return for giving up all the topics related to the Palestinian cause which were part of the Saudi official discourse, especially the refugees right to return and Jerusalem.
As for the Syrian stand, Syria will not attend the conference if the Americans do not include the Golan issue on the conference agenda and it seems as a center of Arab and international movements and communications due to the strength of its role in the files of the Arab –Israeli conflict and in the area’s equations.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

After delaying the session for electing the president until next Friday, the internal and foreign endeavors and communications continue to think of alternatives like electing a transitional president for two years with a program that includes a new elections law or forming a caretaker government under the chairmanship of the army’s leader or any other approved name.
Meanwhile the press focused on the following topics which require attention:
- 1. The French president’s phone call with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the visit of the two French presidential envoys to Damascus are considered as a new development on the track of the Syrian-French relations.
- 2. Fouad Siniora and other sides behave on the basis that there will be a presidential vacuum which will be led by al-Siniora government and that is what the US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman and the UN secretary general envoy Ger Pederson are concentrating on under the title of organizing a quiet vacuum.
- 3. The steps that the president Lahoud may take before the end of his term are still unknown. Predictions say he may transfer power to the military council starting off from a condition that threatens the national unity. Informed sources said that Lahoud will end his term and leave Baabda without taking any steps, fearing the consequences of the condensed US pressures and preferring to leave the crisis of the presidential vacuum to al-Siniora in order to motivate the political sides to accelerate approving a new president and end the crisis.
- 4. There is still a possibility to agree on a transitional formula before the Friday session after the information has revealed that Saad Hariri’s visit to Moscow is aimed at convincing the Russian president to recognize the legitimacy of a president that the loyalists choose outside the constitutional framework. 5- Leaks on the loyalists’ tendency to elect a president through the half plus one continue. Loyalists said this will be available at any moment after the end of president Lahoud’s term. This means that the opposition will lose this card while the loyalists will keep their card until the time they find suitable. Opposition sources said this should be seriously taken and may happen after the Annapolis conference within the framework of a US plan to mix cards in the area.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej talked about the interventions in the Lebanese presidential merit which is still drowned with the conflicting Lebanese sides in the quagmire.
The paper pointed out that these disputes may threaten Lebanon’s existence if the wise people do not interfere to save it.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the electoral session for electing the Lebanese president is delayed, pointing out that what is fearful is that no solution appeared in the horizon.
Ann Appelbown published an article in some Arab papers which said Washington is optimistic concerning the retreat of violence in Iraq and the decrease in the death toll among American soldiers, pointing out that this pessimism is not guaranteed.
Amir Orn said in an article published in some Israeli papers that the prime minister Ehud Olmert can not achieve a political solution because the criminal investigations make him a corrupt commodity. The writer said that the leader of the northern area Ashkenazi supports a compromise with Syria.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the parliamentary majority refuse repeating the two experiences of 1988 and 2004 to impose a candidate, while the house speaker seems optimistic.
As-Safir quoted representative Walid Jumblatt as saying that he does not want implementing the international resolutions on the corpses of the Lebanese.
Al-Akhbar said with the approach of the end of president Lahoud’s term the foreign pressures on Lebanese sides accelerated to elect a new president.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said this is the last delay for electing the president and the Lebanese are waiting.
The NTV said nothing will happen on the level of the presidential merit if the Maronites do not agree on this.
The NBN said despite the complexity and vagueness of the situation the endeavors of the last moment move in all the directions.
The OTV said it is possible to resort to the formula of the transitional president.
The LBC said Russian president Putin promised Saad Hariri to make communications with Syria and Iran, ointing out that Syria and Iran decided to separate the presidential merit from the dispute with France.
The Future wondered if the Lebanese will get a new president or a vacuum.

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.