An Event and a Regional Trend

The speech that the US president George Bush delivered yesterday was considered by observers as a declaration that the report of the 16 US intelligence agencies on Iran is not enough to stop escalation against Iran.
In Doha, before the US report, and in the light of the information about the features of the US new policy in the area, there was an event which has a connection with the contradictory American talk about the results of the US intelligence report, which confirmed the peacefulness of the Iranian nuclear project and dropped all the hypotheses on which the threats against Iran were based.
The US motives to adopt the language of escalation is related, according to experts, to the attempt to curb the openness of the area’s governments that revolve in the American orbit to Iran and this especially applies to the Gulf cooperation council states and Egypt. The US president’s speech aims also at affecting the discussions of the international community concerning the project of imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran. A number of US officials talked about Washington’s fear from the Russian and Chinese support for Iran after the intelligence report said that Iran stopped its nuclear military project since 2003.
Arab analysts said the speech aims at calming Israel that pressures on Iran will continue under the title of confronting its policies that support all Israel’s enemies in the area if not under the title of preventing it from possessing nuclear technology.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The available information said the political discussion will focus on the possibility of delaying the Friday session for electing General Michel Suleiman as a president for a week or more in the light of the result of the communications held by the French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner with the loyalists and the opposition to facilitate understanding on a set of titles that allow a quick start for the new term. Some information said that the French foreign minister decided to stay in Beirut longer than what was decided and he may leave and return again in a climate of a French determination to achieve a serious breakthrough through offering French guarantees.
The following identification marks can be noticed in the developments of the last hours:
- 1. Contradictory information leaked to belittle the importance of Kouchner’s endeavors and correspondents in Paris said: the French foreign ministry is disturbed by the echoes of these information while Kouchner’s associates said that some experts from March 14 alliance directed this campaign to obstruct Kouchner’s endeavors, but he answered them with press silence.
- 2. House speaker Nabih Berry reviewed with the French minister the questions of the opposition, which are meant to the loyalists to decide their option in dealing with the governmental file after electing the president in order to avoid a governmental crisis in the new term.
- 3. Head of the national liberal trend Michel Aoun renewed clinging to his initiative under the title of enhancing the status of Michel Suleiman after electing him and restoring lost Christian rights.
- 4. The loyalist’s campaign targeted Michel Aoun under the title that March 14 alliance offered big concessions through nominating the army’s leader and its acceptance of the constitution’s modification, so the opposition should not set conditions.
- 5. The opposition stressed with all its sides the necessity of achieving an understanding on the next steps that make Michel Suleiman a president for a radical solution that leads the country to a new stage of stability, not a president for directing a crisis.
Lebanese circles wondered if the new French attempt will succeed with all proposals and guarantees in achieving a minimum understanding between the opposition and the loyalists. This understanding will decide the date of the electoral session.

Arab and Foreign Press

Al-Bayan said in its editorial: the session for electing a new Lebanese president is threatened for the sixth time, but what is different at this time is that there is an approved name supported by all the sides.
Japan Times paper said that when the Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf announced the state of emergency in the country, he justified it by saying that "I am not allowed to commit suicide", pointing out that Mushrraf thinks that he is the only one who stands between Pakistan and anarchy.
The Independent said that nothing lowers the spirits of the soldier except the feeling that their nation deprives them from believing that what they do deserves the suffering.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said more than one million Palestinians are threatened with disaster while the Arab world is watching.
David Ignatius said in an article published in the Washington Post that Annapolis conference is considered as a setback or Iran and president Ahmadinejad failed in convincing the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad not to participate in it.
Al-Watan said in its editorial that the Gulf summit concentrated on the Arab causes despite its economic nature and its adoption of the joint Gulf market and the Gulf leaders discussed what happens in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said there is a pressurizing international state of alertness to accomplish the presidential elections in Lebanon as quickly as possible, pointing out that local, regional and international communications continued to achieve this.
An-Nahar said that what attracted attention yesterday is the meeting between the army’s leader Michel Suleiman and leader of the Lebanese Forces Sameer Gagea.
The paper added that secretary general of Hezbollah announced that Michel Suleiman is a guarantee for the coming stage.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar wondered if the visit of the French foreign minister to Beirut will succeed in overcoming the obstacles that hinder political conciliation after all the sides agreed on modifying the constitution.
The NTV said Kouchner and the Lebanese leaderships discuss searching for a mechanism for modifying the constitution and the merits which will follow the presidential lections.
The NBN said that Michel Aoun stressed clinging to his initiative and did not express everything but set necessities for putting work on the right track.
The OTV (which is close to the national liberal trend) said al-Hariri embarrassed himself when he said to Bkerki that he agrees with Aoun on one positive thing in his initiative which is not nominating himself for presidency.
The LBC said that Michel Suleiman said that election is first and all the other things will be dealt with through the institutions, the majority stressed that it offered everything while the opposition informed Suleiman that agreeing on the government protects the president form the complications and bargains which will follow the elections.
The Future said Bernard Koucher has returned to Lebanon to complete a compromise among Lebanese leaders on electing Michel Suleiman as a president.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: A special Interview
General Michel Aoun said that nominating General Michl Suleiman is not a concession and if the loyalists consider it as as such this will be very dangerous.
He added that he offered a concession to serve the project of the homeland, but the loyalists offered concessions to the foreigners.

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.