An Event and a Regional Trend

The Iranian topic in the Arab press and political scene changed into a strange material that raises scandalous contradictions according to some analysts:
- 1. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council do everything to develop their bilateral relations with Iran especially after the Saudi new initiatives in this respect.
- 2. The Saudi press continues its campaign on Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria and the axis of criticism is the relation of Syria and the resistance movements with Iran.
- 3. It is clear that the escalation in the stand towards Iran is closely connected to the US climate in the area and the US tendencies towards Iran. Criticism escalated when the US was beating the drums of war but it seems that a password reached those who are involved when the US intelligence report on the Iranian nuclear file was published to move to a new peaceful stage that corresponds to the transformation of the US policy in the area.
- 4. The topics of understanding between Syria, Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance factions on the one hand and Iran on the other focus on the file of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is what distinguished Iran’s friendship with the Arabs since the victory of the Islamic revolution. This is also the topic of dispute between the two opposite Arab camps: The moderates of Sahrm esh-Sheik and the resistance represented by Syria, Beirut, Gaza and Jerusalem.
This is the contradiction in the stand towards Iran but the issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain the basis of separation in the alliances and conflicts on the Arab arena.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The features of Lebanese developments and events refer to a clear trend towards escalation after the US intervention which obstructed the course of the French-Syrian endeavors and prevented reaching an understanding on the unity government and the elections law.
A number of analysts say the crisis will continue until next spring and may be farther than this while the stands of the loyalists differ on the priority of dealing with the status quo despite the loyalists’ consensus on rejecting the formula of partnership in the unity government proposed by the opposition through clinging to the demand of the guaranteeing third which ignited the political crisis at the beginning.
The statements of Walid Jumblatt reveal that the loyalists insist on rejecting this formula while Saad al-Hariri and Junbalt stressed rejection of the option that Bush called for which is electing the president through the half plus one quorum but the Forces-Kernet Shahwan group insists on this option and faces the complex of accepting the nomination of the army’s leader and its inability to withdraw its agreement on electing him as an approved president.
A leading source in the opposition said the US intervention to obstruct the compromise seems aggressive and France was unable to protect its mediation from it while the real US goal is linking the Lebanese crisis with the area’s files and the Americans wan to keep Lebanon in the grip of al-Siniora and his team.
The same source stressed the opposition readiness to confront any escalation by al-Siniora to prevent it from putting its hand on the president’s authorities, pointing out that difficulties face al-Siniora in guaranteeing the presence of the two thirds of the ministers to start practicing some of the president’s authorities, and that is what the national liberal trend warned from.

Arab and International Press

Israeli sources announced that Tel Aviv rejects participation in Moscow peace conference, which will be held next spring due to Israel’s opposition to Russia’s policy towards Tehran and Damascus.
Top commander of the UNIFIL forces in Lebanon Claudio Greciano announced that the mission of his forces is identifying an isolating area in the south of the Litani river that allows the presence of the Lebanese army only, in addition to preserving the quietness of the two sides of the borders between Lebanon and occupied Palestine.
The Iranian press quoted an oil official which said that Iran’s oil revenues reached 52 billion dollars in the first eleven months of the year 2007.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial it seems that this year is determined not to fold the papers of its last day with a solution to the Lebanese crisis.
The Saudi paper (Al-Watan said the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians will not succeed if Tel Aviv continues its crimes against Gaza.
Charles Krauthammer said in an article published in the Washington Post 4 months after September 11 attacks president Bush described Iran and Iraq and North Korea as the axis of evil and announced that wreaking these rogue states is an urgent mission and it is certain that the public opinion will judge Bush’s success in this respect.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

A Special Statement
Syrian minister of information Mohsen Bilal said Syria is ready to hold the coming Arab summit in Damascus and wants this summit to be an occasion to end disputes and rebuild Arab solidarity.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said the Lebanese file witnesses escalation and this means that the presidential vacuum will continue and that is what the US assistant secretary of state David Welch hinted at.
An-Nahar said that the sharp campaign launched by the opposition on the government proves that that the political condition returned to the zero point.
Al-Akhbar said that there will be no presidency before the government pointing out that March 14 forces study the modification of the constitution while Nabih Berry holds al-Siniora responsible for escalation.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar wondered if the ruling team received the US orders to start escalation.
The NTV said if the Maronites of Lebanon gave up their role this means that the head of their church was not very decisive.
The NBN quoted political sources as saying that the opposition will announce a strong stand if the illegitimate government obeys the US orders and holds a session in accordance with the US president’s call.
The OTV said if the modification project is approved and transferred to the parliament this means that al-Saniora started to put his hand on the president’s authorities.
The LBC said the Lebanese wound is open to Arab, international and regional subscriptions while the French endeavors were obstructed by the limits of the American authorization.
The Future quoted governmental sources as saying that the cabinet will hold a meeting today in order to open an exception round for the parliament if the current round is closed without electing a president.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: The Week in an Hour
Former minister Karam Karam said the crisis in Lebanon is not presidential but political and approving the president will not be internal but external, pointing out that some of the US neocons want to make Lebanon a platform to launch missiles on Syria.
The journalist Nasri al-Saeg said the issue of Sheba farms and the Lebanese – Syrian relations are above the Lebanese’s ability to find a solution pointing out that March 14 forces have the right to go to the parliament and elect the president.

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