An Event and a Regional Trend

Damascus’s Summit Started and Dick Cheney Exerts Pressures on the Involved Sides

It became certain that Damascus’s summit will take place on its date after launching the official preliminary meetings and Damascus’s reception of a confirmation of the presence of 14 Arab kings and presidents. Saudi Arabia decided to lower its representation and delegate the Saudi ambassador to the Arab league unless developments dictate raising its representation to the highest level. Questions on the Egyptian stands continue, while the Jordanian king will attend the summit and Kuwait announced that prince Al-Sabbah will chair its delegation to the summit.
- 1. The Palestinian topic will top the agenda of the summit. The press said the US continues exerting pressures to withdraw the Arab initiative issued by Beirut’s summit due to the inability to modify its content in accordance with the Israeli conditions.
- 2. Syria succeeded in stopping the campaign that targeted it and proved the immunity of its position in the Arab equation. The Arab league secretary general stressed the importance of the summit in dealing with current Arab conditions while various Arab statements focused on the possibility of launching initiatives to purify the Arab atmospheres in this summit, which will transfer the leadership to president Bashar al-Assad for a complete year. This will allow him to move on the Arab and international arena through the content of the resolutions and recommendations of the summit, especially concerning the Palestinian file.
- 3. The climate that surrounded the US vice-president’s tour in the area reflected the size and influence of the US pressures on what is called as the moderate states concerning boycotting Damascus’s summit and preventing the unit of the Arab ranks. This also aims at obstructing compromise in Lebanon and preventing Palestinian internal dialogue. Analysts said that the stands that surround Sana’s talks between Hamas and Fatah reflect the US-Israeli pressures that prevent any return to Mecca’s agreement.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Opposition Calms Down and Al-Siniora’s Government makes its decision today

The political and press scene in Lebanon witnessed the following developments:
- 1. The session of presidential elections is delayed until April 22. The evidences prove that the opposition offered all the required concessions to facilitate the compromise through Berri’s initiative, the Arab initiative, and Berri’s declaration that he is determined to launch a new initiative through consultation with the Arab and foreign states that influence the condition in Lebanon. He will also call for resuming consultation on the topic of the government and the elections law after he was informed of the loyalists’ agreement on the tens formulas and their retreat from it, which obstructed the solution.
- 2. Questions continue on the stand of al-Siniora’s government towards participation in the Arab summit. Some expect that the government may delegate an ambassador or boycott the summit after Saudi Arabia’s decision to lower its representation. On the other hand, US vice-president Dick Cheney called for preserving the status quo until president Bush’s visit to the area to participate in the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the occupation of Palestine. Cheney said the period that extends until May and June will influence the area’s equations through using pressures in negotiations or through stormy developments, including a big regional war in the aftermath of the US-Israeli failure in Gaza and the complication of the peace process due to the Israeli intransigent stand.
- 3. Secretary General of Hezbollah announced new stands that renewed the opposition’s commitment to the political compromise and support for the initiatives that aim at solving the Lebanese crisis. As for the assassination of Emad Mughniyeh, secretary general of Hezbollah stressed again clinging to retaliation through choosing the suitable place and time.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate newspaper al-Khalij said in its editorial that the Israeli provocation is direct and public and the Palestinian reconciliation is not allowed.
The Syrian daily Tichrin wondered why the US exerts huge pressures to obstruct Damascus’s summit.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that Sana’ dialogue between Hamas and Fateh aims at preventing more deterioration on the Palestinian arena.
A secret Israeli report said the coming war in the area will be horrible and the missiles’ attacks may kill thousands of people.
The Israeli newspaper Yidiot Aharonot said the report aims at enabling the civil economy to prepare itself for the scenarios of the war.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said that the system for intercepting missiles will be ready in 2010.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said the preliminary meeting of the high-ranking Arab officials and experts discusses the draft resolutions of the Arab economic and social council.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said the US and Saudi Arabia decided to escape Arab commitments towards occupied Palestine and for this reason Saudi Arabia lowered its representation in the Arab summit.
Al-Akhbar said Syria and other Arab leaders considered Saudi Arabia’s decision to lower its representation in the Arab summit as a negative step.
As-Safir said the republic is still without a president while the crisis is stagnant.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the fortieth memory of the martyr Emad Mugniyeh passed while the martyr terrifies Israel in his death as he terrified it when he was a live.
The NTV said Saudi Arabia responded to the American demands and lowered its representation in Damascus’s summit.
The NBN said in the shadow of the loyalists’ obstruction of solution in Lebanon, house speaker Nabih Berri decided to launch a new initiative to activate dialogue.
The OTV said there are efforts to enhance the internal front in the shadow of the continuous crisis.
The LBC wondered if the Saudi-Syrian boycott reached the point of no return.
The Future said this is the first time in the history of Arab summits that Saudi Arabia attend on this level although the foreign minister usually represents his country if the king is absent. The Future added that Egypt may take similar steps.

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.