An Event and a regional Trend

Anticipating the Speech of President Bashar al-Assad

In the eve of the Arab summit’s beginning, the US pressures continued on the Jordanian and Palestinians to lower the level of representation. America, France and Britain welcomed the decision of Saudi Arabia to lower their representation and instigated the Arab states against each other after the failure of Bush’s administration to destroy Damascus’s summit.
The information about the summit’s final statement said the summit will keep the Arab peace initiative and the initiative concerning Lebanon. Some believe that Syria achieved a big progress by preventing the obstruction of the summit and preserved the minimum of the Arab stands, which opposes the US-Israeli conditions for eliminating the Palestinian cause and jumping over a just compromising of the Arab -Israeli conflict.
Some items of the resolutions support the Syrian stand in the Arab -Israeli conflict and in confronting the US pressures and sanctions.
The political and press circles look forward to the speech of president Bashar al-Assad which will open the summit. A number of Arab press sources described the speech as historic and will deal with the current problems in the area and the priorities of reaching a unified Arab stand towards the developments and challenges in the area.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

There is one dominant political title in the local and regional political scene, which is the Arab summit, which will start tomorrow in Damascus. The press covered the following developments:
- 1. The loyalists announced a campaign of escalating stands against the Arab summit in a memorandum that held Syria responsible for the current crisis in Lebanon. The spokesperson of the March 14 committee used the language of insults and escalation against Syria. The loyalists’ campaign targeted some participant states in the summit and concentrated on the house speaker Nabih Berri.
- 2. Lebanese opposition said the Lebanese government’s decision to boycott the summit runs counter to Lebanon’s interests as a state and confirms the loyalists’ rejection of the Arab initiative and their clinging to other unconstitutional options like expanding the government. The opposition added that the March 14 forces’ statements against Damascus’ summit is a response to US orders and dictations. The opponent parliamentary bloc defended the house speaker and his constitutional role.
- 3. Lebanese press focused on the Arab summit and the course of the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting. The press information said the Arab league secretary genial Amr Musa will return to Lebanon next April to continue the Arab initiative.
- 4. Al-Siniora completed the escalating campaign against Syria with a televised speech after his failure to deliver a speech through the Arab summit despite his communications with many mediators. Al-Siniora tried to imitate the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who delivered his speech in the summit of 2002 from his office in Ramallah due to the Israeli siege of his headquarters imitation of the departed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Al-Siniora’s decision to boycott the summit is linked to the foreign decision, which aims at pressurizing Syria to force it to interfere in Lebanon to serve the loyalists’ interest.

Arab and international Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said in its editorial that violence in Iraq is resulted from occupation.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said that contrary to the expectations of Bush’s administration, Damascus’s summit achieved its goals.
Hezbollah denied Israeli reports, which said that the party uses drugs to drown the Hebrew state saying the reports are baseless.
The Israeli intelligence’s reports said that Hezbollah has missiles whose range reaches Demona.
The Syrian paper al-Thawra said in its editorial that the Arab foreign minsiters’ meeting reflected a collective wish to prevent Arab disputes from dominating the summit’s agenda.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said that the Arab foreign ministers adopt the agenda of Damascus’s summit

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said the Arab summit’s preliminary meetings were quiet due to the absence of Lebanon and its file and no disputes were recorded. Al-Akhbar said Damascus achieved one of the summit’s goals, which is working to end Arab disputes. Ad-Diyar said the Damascus summit started with a big political momentum pointing out that president Bashar al-Assad will deliver on Saturday a historic speech.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the political train of the Arab summit moved strongly under the leadership of Syria.
The NTV said Lebanon is a mere pretext used by what is called as the Arab moderate states’ axis.
The NBN said the Lebanese issue was present in the discussions of the Arab foreign ministers.
The OTV said that the Syrian precaution, which is wrapped with balanced flexibilitym and the Arab avoidance of Lebanon were the two main characteristics of the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting.
The LBC said the summit will extend the mission of Amr Musa in Beirut.
The Future said that the preliminary meetings of the Arab summit were dim and the Arab states did not accept a Syrian demand to reconsider the Arab peace initiative.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Peoples’ Talk
Representative Fareed al-Khazen said there is an Arab dispute on how to direct the conflict with Israel.
Journalist Nuhad al-Mashnuq said Syria holds secret negotiations with Israel but America obstructed them.
Director of the Orient Center for Studies Sameer At-Taqi said America provokes the Arabs to boycott Damascus’s summit.
Member of the Saudi Shura council said the discourse of the Arab summit is the discourse of the 1950s and July War was and a failed adventure.

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.