An Event and a Regional Trend

The US president George Bush starts today his visit, which is described as the first during his last presidential term, and takes place under the following titles:
- Urging the Palestinian authority and Israel to achieve progress on Annapolis track.
- The political campaign against Iran and its peaceful nuclear project.
As for the first topic, the Arab and Israeli press said the next steps will be spectacular for many reasons, the most important among them is Bush’s administration’s bias to the Israeli stand and priorities. Analysts in the Arab world and Israel belittled the value of Olmert-Abbas agreement to continue negotiations on the final status. The published reports and analyses concentrated on internal political tumult inside Israel and the Palestinian lands which suggest that there is a possibility for ousting Olmert after publishing Winograd’s report at the end of this month while the weakness of the Palestinian authority increases to the degree of that it may be obliged to resume dialogue with Hamas.
The Israeli field steps to expand settlement and the arbitrary colonies run counter to Annapolis’s requirements and prove that Bush’s administration is practically biased to Israel. The strategic researcher Henry Seigman said that offering money to the Palestinian president will not enable him to enjoy the popularity of the resistance’s factions which retaliate against the Israeli aggressions.
Bush will try to calm Israel down concerning Iran through stressing the strategic alliance and curbing his Arab friends who tend to normalize relations with Tehran which succeeded in the test of power in Hermez Strait through sending a strong message about the degree of its readiness to deter the US steps.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

While Lebanese political circles anticipate the Arab league secretary General Amr Moussa’s visit to Beirut, the loyalists and the opposition started their political positioning concerning he details of the initiative which was approved in Cairo. It seems that the structure of the unity government is in the forefront of attention:
- 1. The loyalists announced their preventive rejection of the formula of dividing ministerial positions to three thirds among the loyalists, the opposition and the president and clung to the last offer which was rejected by the opposition during Bernard Koucher’s visit.
- 2. Moussa will meet general Suleiman to discuss with him the proposed ideas for the Lebanese compromise and ways of dealing with the various sides.
- 3. The opposition officially authorized general Aoun to direct negotiations with Amr Moussa.
- 4. The opposition stressed through Omar Karame statements that it will respond to the endeavors of the Arab league secretary general while it will put a comprehensive plan for popular movements if the loyalists obstruct the Arab initiative. The available press information says that the deadline that the opposition gives ends after the next meeting of the Arab foreign ministers at the end of this month.
- 5. Press reports talked about a close coordination between Amr Moussa and the house speaker who welcomed the formula of the three thirds in the unity government but no official statement confirmed this.
- 6. The rise of new security dangers after targeting the UNIFIL on Beirut-Sidon highway yesterday.
- 7. The Lebanese Forces and Kernet Shahwan sides are shocked by the available opportunity for solution which may give general Aoun a crucial role in the new authority.
- 8. Leaders of the opposition talk about the early elections within the framework of the political basket for the solution as a guarantee for stability. This was expressed by Omar Karame in his talk on al-Jazeera screen yesterday.

Arab and International Press

Al-Bayan said in its editorial that the incident between Iran and the US in the Gulf raised new fears but the latest developments cooled tension between the two sides.
The former US democratic senator John Edwards said in an article published in the Wall Street Journal that the American economy deteriorated and families are forced to work more hours.
An official report issued by the Israeli foreign ministry’s center for political research said the current US administration is weak and will not succeed in activating the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, pointing out that Washington ignored the military action against Iran.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said we hope president Bush will look at Arab causes from a different perspective.
The Syrian daily Tichrin wondered about the goals of Bush’s visit to the area.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Al-Jazeera
Program: Al-Jazeera this Evening
Leader of Fateh al-Islam Sahker Al-Absi said that anyone who fights under the banner of General Michel Suleiman is an infidel.
Program: From Lebanon
Former Lebanese premier Omar Karame held the loyalists responsible for obstructing the solution.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian Satellite station said there is a new Israeli settlement project for building 60 new units in occupied Jerusalem.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said the creative ambiguity of the Arab initiative will make Amr Moussa’s mission in Lebanon very difficult, pointing out that leader of Fatah Al-Islam uttered threats against the Lebanese army.
An-Nahar said prime minister of Qatar Hamad Ben Jabr Ben Jasem Al thani will visit Beirut next Saturday to meet leader of the army Michel Suleiman within the framework of a mission related to the Arab consensus on electing him.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar wondered about the thread that links the security events in the last 24 hours or if they are related to the recent statements of leader of Fatah Al-Islam.
The NTV said the threats of Shaker al-Absi prove that Lebanon is vulnerable on the security level.
The NBN said the attack on the UNIFIL serves the Israeli enemy.
The OTV said weird events took place suddenly in the eve of Bush’s arrival to Israel.
The Future wondered about the reasons of escalating tension on the borders with Israel.

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.