An Event and a Regional Trend

The Syrian Determination and the US Pressures

Consultations between the Arab countries concerning Damascus summit continue. The prominent movements in this respect include the Egyptian president’s Gulf tour and the Jordanian king’s visit to Saudi Arabia. Syria continues the preparations for the hosting the Arab summit and sending official invitations to Arab presidents and kings.
- 1. Syrian sources stressed holding the summit in Damascus in any circumstances because it is not allowed to obstruct the highest Arab institution for joint work. These sources added that disputes and differences in assessments and stands are a chronic phenomenon that accompanies Arab joint work and its presence should motivate activating the institutions of joint work in order to solve Arab-Arab disputes.
- 2. Arab sources raise questions on the calls for linking attending the summit to Syria’s intervention for the benefit of the loyalists in Lebanon while the Arab states that support the loyalists do not take any step to facilitate the solution in Lebanon. The sources also pose questions on the absence of the Palestinian topic which is more dangerous than the Lebanese file. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are responsible for this since the collapse of Mecca agreement in the shadow of the US pressures that prevent any initiative to restore Palestinian unity and conciliation.
- 3. Targeting the Arab summit is linked, according to experts, to Bush’s Palestinian idea which revolves on destroying the Arab peace initiative and dropping the right to return, Jerusalem and the state. This attempt was obstructed by president Bashar al-Assad and President Emile Lahoud at Riyadh summit.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Failure of the Initiative despite the Surprise of General Michel Aoun

Lebanese press and political sources focused on the failure of the round of dialogue between the loyalists and the opposition. The following signs can be read in the Lebanese scene:
- 1. The two meetings held under the auspices of the Arab league Secretary General Amr Musa were serious in discussing the points of disputes. The available press information said the opposition insisted on the provincial law, while the loyalists endorsed new division for the provinces. The second session focused on this issue and the items of the ministerial statement in addition to the unity government.
- 2. Representative of the opposition Michel Aoun surprised everybody when he announced the opposition’s agreement on the 13s formula in return for the president’s pledge to commit to the invariables which affect national conciliation, but this proposal was rejected.
- 3. Amer Musa said he will concentrate his efforts in the coming stage on the preparations for the Arab summit in Damascus but he will continue his contacts with the Lebanese leaders.
- 4. Some Arab states continue linking attending Damascus’s summit with the Lebanese file.
- 5. Circulated press information confirmed that that the US – Saudi bias to the loyalists encouraged them to obstruct the solution and to call for electing a consensus president immediately and leaving other points until after electing the president but the opposition refused this.
- 6. The continuity of the interactions which are linked to the Israeli preparations to launch a new war against Lebanon and the continuity of the Lebanese discussions which are motivated by the loyalists’ campaign against Hezbollah. The opposition sources said this weakens the national immunity especially in the shadow of the Israeli threats.

Arab and International Press

Nahom Bernya’ said in an article that Hamas likes the Palestinian people but not to a degree that it abstains from sacrificing their lives for political purposes.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said the citizens of the West Bank are not in better conditions and the humanitarian aids for them are limited.
The Syrian paper Tichrin said the Palestinian people are the incomparable victims of the Israeli terrorism and injustice.
The Saudi paper al-Watan said in its editorial that Turkey should end its operations as quickly as possible and withdraw from north Iraq.
The Qatari paper al-Rayah said the continuity of the current conditions in the Palestinian lands is unacceptable.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said president Bashar al-Assad invited the Mauritanian president to attend the Arab summit.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

A Special Interview
Amine Gemayel said the opposition implements a plan to destroy the constitutional institutions in Lebanon.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said that despite the talk about the failure of the dialogue between the opposition and the loyalists, Arab sources in Beirut said the meetings between them achieved progress.
As-Safir said the Arab initiative extended itself through leaving the doors of dialogue open, but also the presidential vacuum extended itself while the crisis is still the same in the Lebanese street.
Al-Akhbar said Amr Musa was frank with the house speaker when he told him that he no longer intends to visit Lebanon because the Lebanese do not want to reach a solution.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Musa’s visit failed and there are no signs of solution in the horizon.
The NTV quoted former Syrian information minister Mahdi Dakhlalah as saying that Saudi Arabia and Egypt work to fight Damascus summit.
The NBN said the house speaker delayed the parliamentary session for another date.
The OTV said the house speaker alone succeeded in achieving an intermediate stand and delayed the session until March 11.
The LBC said minister of labor Tarrad Hamadah returned to the ministry to secure the citizens’ interests.
The Future said the secretary general of the Gulf cooperation council announced that Gulf States’ foreign ministers will meet next Saturday and Sunday to discuss the Lebanese file and the topic of the Arab summit.

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.