An Event and a Regional Trend

The communications among some of the capitals of Sharm el-Sheikh group deal with the Palestinian topic and rearranging the files after the retreat of the threats of a US-Israeli war against Iran and Syria and also in the light of the failure of Annapolis conference.
Sharm el-Sheikh group abstained from launching any initiative to activate Mecca agreement or the Palestinian dialogue in the last period in a response to the US demand to leave the interactions continue since Keith Dayton’s coup in Gaza and Hamas victory. The available information say that Mahmud Abbas’ call for help after his return from Annapolis motivated some concerned capitals to move because Ehud Olmert’s translation of Bush’s document deprived Abbas and his team from their legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public opinion which faces the reality of the Israeli settlement blocs’ expansion in the West Bank and more aggressions.
Some analysts and experts believe that the problem of Sharm el-Sheikh’s axis is that it faces difficulty in returning to the equations of Arab solidarity that preceded the occupation of Iraq through adopting policies whih are based on preventing understanding with Syria and moving from the method of enmity to Iran to generalizing the new image which appeared in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s summit in response to the American provocation. The lesson derived from the failure of Annapolis conference pushed Palestinian leading sources to say that it is necessary to work to encourage Palestinian unity, return to Mecca agreement and establish a safety ceiling through complete understanding with Damascus whose role in the area is difficult to surpass as the Americans themselves recognized.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The loyalists launched a wave of political escalation, especially Saad Hariri, which coincided with delaying the electoral session which made the crisis more complicated. There are no serious signs on the possibility of holding presidential elections next Monday, the new date set by the house speaker yesterday. The latest developments refer to the following elements:
- 1. The loyalists’ cling to the necessity of involving al-Siniora government in the constitutional modification. The opposition considers this a political blackmail that aims at extracting the house speaker and the parliamentary blocs’ recognition of the legitimacy of al-Siniora government and its decisions since October 11, 2006, but the opposition refuses this for political reasons.
- 2. The opposition considers the loyalists dishonest in their stands towards the adoption of nominating Michel Suleiman as an approved president. The evidence on this is the loyalists’ rejection of completing the talks that aim at achieving political understanding, modifying the constitution and electing the president. A confidence crisis appears in this horizon as the experience with the loyalist proves. A Leading opponent talked about the necessity of documenting what is agreed on in order to protect the agreements from the destiny of the four-sided alliance and the ministerial statement stressing the opposition’s cling to commit to the agreements and the modification of the constitution outside the government.
- 3. Some Arab sides intervened in the crisis and press reports said the Egyptian–Saudi axis pushed the Lebanese file to equations that cover the Palestinian condition after the failure of Annapolis conference. Arab official information said this axis tried to calm the atmospheres but some sources in Beirut doubts that the Arab provocation to use he Lebanese condition stands behind the escalation raised by Saad Hariri.
- 4. The implicit threats in al-Hariri’s statements and the information that talked about al-Siniora’ movement on the international and regional level to resort to name a president outside the constitutional quorum.

Arab and International press

Steven Bidel said in an article published in the Washington Post that the US commitment to protect the ceasefire in Iraq may collapse even if the US keeps a big peace keeping force there, because this force will be considered an occupation.
Moscow Times said that president Putin is a strong man and proved this when he signaled to the word that he is ready to occupy the position of the prime minister in his country.
Omar Jaftali said in an article published in the Syrian daily Tichrin that racism stands behind stabbing the Arab citizen in Israel and this racism is increasing in the Israeli street.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the presidential elections in Lebanon will not be easy this time and the players seem tired or may be concede that the game reached its end. Therefore, they should head to the parliament and elect the president
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said when the US secretary of defense Robert Gates said at the regional security forum in Bahrain that the Israeli nuclear arsenal does not threaten the Arabs he provoked the audience who laughed, not because what Gates said is a political joke, but because they suffer the American dishonesty in dealing with the Arabs.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Al-Jazeera
Program: The Day’s Harvest
Head of the political bureau in the PLO Farouk Kaddoumi, said we are working on forming a Palestinian national committee for understanding and unity with independent Palestinian national personalities, in order to reach a solution on the Palestinian arena.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the return of the political contest proved that the compromise failed and this may lead to prolonging the presidential vacuum until after mid-March.
As-Safir wondered if the army’s leader Michel Suleiman will take a step that surprises the Lebanese political circle and all his foreign supporter of his nomination who left the issue for internal conflicts.
Al-Akhbar said today’s session was delayed and the political escalation began.
The paper quoted diplomatic sources as saying that tensions returned to Arab-Arab relations which led to a Saudi-Egyptian understanding on preventing cooperation with Damascus.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the electoral session is delayed and this is the result of the political discussions and consultations.
The NTV said Tuesday was like any normal day: no session, no modification and no president.
The NBN said the majority team wants to kill the guard not to eat the grapes, which is what explains its intransigence.
The OTV said the compromise on the president is on the edge of falling.
The LBC said the main sides of the conflict announced the death of the presidential merit
The Future quoted Saad Hariri as saying that the opposition wants to prolong the vacuum and the majority will not allow this.

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, French, German, and Spanish languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English and Spanish.