An Event and a Regional Trend

The first thing that Israel expected after Annapolis conference is that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will launch a destructive war against the resistance factions and participate in tightening siege on Gaza.
The Israeli analysts stressed that the mission of Mahmud Abbas and his team is not limited to Gaza, refering to the priority of eliminating the resistance activists, who increase in Nablus, Bethlehem, Tulkarm and Jenin.
Despite the silent noise of marketing Annapolis, a number of analysts think that Mahmud Abbas will politically behave and invite his opponents to wait for the rounds of negotiations which may take along time, while the American and Israeli pressure on the Palestinian authority will increase to force it to take measures to confront the resistance factions and implement Salam Fayyad’s decision to dissolve the militias and prevent armed organizations. The Israeli military officials want a complete Palestinian participation in eliminating all those who participate in the work of the resistance groups under the title of partnership in fighting terrorism. They also want Abbas group to work with the Israeli forces against Gaza like Antoine Lahoud groups in South Lebanon.
The question is related now to the time that the process of consuming public relations may take at Annapolis, and the lesson will be clear when the signs of the Israeli stand appear again, and many things will depend on the stand of the Palestinian president and his group.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The most important developments of the Lebanese political scene are the following:
- 1. General Michel Aoun announced after his meeting with his parliamentary bloc his adoption of the nomination of the army’s leader Michel Suleiman to presidency and called the loyalists and the opposition to work together to overcome the constitutional obstacles . Meanwhile, the opposition is expected to express a stand that corresponds to the stand announced by Aoun.
- 2. Disputes appeared in the ranks of March 14 alliance and this was manifested in the stands of loyal representatives, who opposed the modification of the constitution. This was also manifested in the appearance of contradictory stands among representatives in the Future bloc concerning the nature of the nomination, which was announced by Amar Huri and denied by Sameer al-Jiser, while the Lebanese Forces and Kernet Shahwan group expressed reservation about the negotiations of Saad al-Hariri and Walid Jumblatt with the house speaker Nabih Berry which took place without returning to the other loyal partners.
- 3. The readiness of the house speaker to start a workshop for modifying the constitution after delaying today’s session until next Friday and discussions concentrated on the topic of the modification, the parliament’s authorities and the dubious governmental condition.
- 4. France has criticized the loyalists and accused them of being unable to take the initiative. The loyalists’ decision to return to the idea of electing the army’s leader shocked the French who tend to hold the loyalists responsible for the failure of the French initiative in Lebanon.
- 5. The press and political circles wonder about the nature of the possible communications and contacts between Syria and Iran on the one hand and the US administration on the other, and the scope of their reflection on the Lebanese condition. The Americans keep silent concerning this in order not to hurt the feelings of their Lebanese allies, who talk in the corridors about raising the level of US diplomatic representation in Damascus to the rank of an ambassador. They also talked about meetings arranged by Turkish, Russian, Spanish and Qatari officials that may have dealt with the condition in Lebanon. _ Some journalists said that Walid Jumblatt follows up closely what happens as if he is reviewing the videotape that he saw before when he was close to Syrian leadership and knew an important part of the understandings and some of the area’s issues after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and sending multinational forces to Lebanon and the retreat of this attack in the mid-eighties after testing direct military power between the US air forces and the Syrian air defense units in the Beka valley.

Arab and International Press

The Iranian paper Goya talked about the dangers in Iran that will result from three economic setbacks which are implementing the project of the oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Europe without involving Iran, limiting extracting gas and selling it to e Qatar in the joint gas field with Iran and the German decision to boycott many Iranian corporations.
The Iranian paper Ahdath said that local press and political sources claimed that Annapolis conference aims at mobilizing the area’s states to support Israel and attack Iran and contain its influence in the area.
Helen Cooper said in an article published in the New York Times that the US secretary o state Condoleezza Rice exercised self-discipline in her attempts to make peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis and it will take a year to know if this policy will be fruitful.
The writer pointed out that his policy guaranteed for Rice Holding Annapolis conference.
Suzan Beg said in an article published in some papers that Annapolis conference brought to mind the atmospheres of the US president Clinton’s initiative in 1993 and the famous shaking of hands between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said that General Aoun’s agreement on nominating the army’s leader to presidency has shocked his allies before shocking his political opponents.
An-Nahar wondered if December 7 date will end the presidential vacuum, pointing out that despite optimism obstacles are still existent.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Michel Aoun turned the table upside down on the loyalists and threw on them the ball of fire that they tried to burn him with.
The NTV said the loyalists are not cleverer than general Aoun who changed their initiative into a burden on them.
The NBN quoted the minister of information in the illegitimate government Gazi Aridi as saying that communications between the loyalists and the opposition will focus on modifying the constitution denying setting a trap for the opposition through nominating Michel Suleiman.
The OTV said there is more than one logical connection between the presidential vacuum in Lebanon and the quietness of the Serge Bramertz’s report on al-Hariri’s assassination..
The Future said internal consultations continue to approve the nomination of the army’s leader Michel Suleiamn.
The LBC said the session of modifying the article 49 of the constitution waits for approving the mechanism for nominating the army’s leader and suggesting the special law which will be signed by ten representatives.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Program: The People’s talk
Chief of Al-Akhabr paper board Ibrahim Al-Amine said that David Welch told Tarek Mitri at Annapolis conference to elect Michel Suleiman and that is the reason of the majority’s stand.
Elias Abou Assi, who is one of March 14 alliance leaders, said that the national liberal party is against the modification of the constitution.
The journalist Hicham Melhem said that there is no Syrian-American deal on the expense of Lebanon at Annapolis.
Deputy spokesperson of he US department of state Tom Case said America is still committed to the building of a free and democratic Lebanon.

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.