An Event and a Regional Trend

A Syrian-US gravitation draws the map of Participation in the Summit

The Arab scene focused on Damascus and the track of the Arab summit and the anticipated speech of president Bashar al-Assad. The available press information said the speech will review the current Arab conditions and will be quiet and frank and concentrate on the topic of Palestine and Arab-Arab relations.
- 1. The size of the US pressures to influence the participation of a number of Arab states is clear. Press information said the US department of state sent memoranda to a number of Arab capitals, calling them to reduce the level of their participation. The US pressures and the endeavors of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in this respect have prevented the presence of the Jordanian king and the Yemeni president, contrary to what Amman and Yemen informed Syria of during the final preparations for the summit.
- 2. The conflict in the area took the form of direct gravitation between Syria and the US administration according to a number of comments and analyses. This forms an asset for Syria which refused to interpret the stands of the states whose leaders did not attend, saying lowering the representation is linked to each state’s sovereign decisions.
- 3. The arrival of the US secretary of the state in the area coincided with the summit’s date. This reveals the US endeavors to obstruct the summit and influence it, but the presence of the Palestinian president reflects fears from an Arab stand that raises the political ceiling in the Palestinian cause in a way that embarrasses the Palestinian authority in the negotiations which formed an example of the US-Israeli aggressiveness against the Palestinian people.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Al-Siniora’s speech and Bellemare’s Report

The Lebanese political and press scene focused on the speech of prime minister al-Siniora on Damascus’s summit and the periodic report of the international judge Daniel Bellamare and also on the continuity of the discussion between the loyalists and the opposition on the horizons of the country’s political crisis.
- 1. The speech of al-Siniora included a justification of boycotting the summit, which is the absence of a president, but the opposition considered this a trick which covers the reality of the US demands to activate pressures on Syria under the Lebanese pretext. The evidence is that al-Siniora attended the Islamic summit in Dakar in the shadow of the president’s absence.
- 2. Al-Siniora repeated the accusations of the loyalists against Syria which are baseless. This means that he leads the country to a permanent boycott with Syria. Earlier. Al-Saniora refused two invitations from president Bashar al-Assad, which were conveyed by prince of Qatar and the Lebanese house speaker in 2006.
- 3. The opposition’s sources said al-Siniora’s speech tried to ignore the US mandate due to internal dispute with 45% of the parliament seats, wondering about the reality of this aggressive behavior against Syria and offering shelters for terrorist organizations and other groups organized by the CIA to carry out sabotage operations in Syria.
- 4. The report of the international investigator Bellemare focused on describing what he called as a criminal network in the case of al-Hariri’s assassination. Diplomatic sources said this exonerates Syria and the Lebanese security leaders. The report also revealed that the committee has a lot of work to do before reaching evidences that allow moving to the work of the attorney general in the tribunal. This result refutes the loyalists’ accusations against Syria,
- 5. Identical opponent sources stressed that the opposition discusses practical steps to develop a form of coordination and joint work among its sides. The sources added that the loyalists try to demand a Syrian intervention in the Lebanese condition to impose the loyalists’ domination on authority. The opposition stressed that it will not allow reducing the Arab initiative to suit the demands of the ruling team a part from the size of the US, local and regional pressures.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said no one waits for miracle from Damascus’s summit or any other summits, but hopes are pinned on ending divisions and healing wounds.
Al-Bayan said Damascus’s summit has an exceptional importance because it takes place in the shadow of regional and international atmospheres full of conflicts and challenges.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said the summit started today and it will search for the salvation of all the Arabs.
The German press agency DBA said in a report that the Lebanese are anxious from the possibility of a new wave of assassinations after the Arab summit.
Al-Bayan said holding the Arab summit became an issue surrounded with problems and doubts.
The Qatari paper al-Rayah said the critical circumstance in the area should push the Arab leader to overcome the problems that hinder joint Arab work.
Al-Riyadh paper said the absence of the active Arab states from the Arab summit means that the major problems will not be discussed.
Al-Khalij paper said the Jordanian opposition is disappointed at the level of Jordan’s participation in the summit.
The spokesperson for the Moroccan government said the Arab summit takes place in the shadow of complicated conditions including the Lebanese crisis and the developments of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Algerian representative at the Arab league stressed that the Arab initiative concerning Lebanon is still existent.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said the Arab summit started today its meetings under the chairmanship of president Basahr al-Assad.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said that on the rhythm of Damascus’s summit’s momentum, prime minister al-Siniora wept while beseeching Arab leaders to interfere against Syria.
Al-Akhbar said the Arab summit started its meetings in the shadow of disputes that reflected on the level of participation.
As-Safir said the press center for the summit received leaks which said that the US sent memorandums to a number of Arab states asking them to boycott Damascus’s summit.
Sources in the North African delegation confirmed that Washington’s ambassadors were authorized to follow up the implementation of the memorandums.
As-Safir said that the Jordanian king delegated head of the royal office to explain to Damascus the size of the US pressures on Jordan.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said that what disturbed the Syrians more than anything else is the absence of the Yemeni president who confirmed many times that he will attend and propose his country’s initiative concerning the Palestinian dialogue at the summit.
The NTV said Damascus’s summit is the summit of Palestine but the Arab leaders boycotted the summit without embarrassment.
The NBN said the Arab summit started and attention is focused now on its results.
The OTV quoted informed sources in Damascus as saying that president Bashar al-Assad’s speech at the summit may concentrate on the issue of Rafiq al-Hariri’s assassination.
The LBC wondered if the summit of Arab divisions and reduced representation will isolate Syria.
The Future said the UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon informed prime minister al-Siniora of the measures taken by the UN concerning the international Tribunal.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Al-Manar
Program: the Hour’s Talk
Editor-in-chief of al-Adiyar Charles Ayyoub said it is impossible to separare between the US pressures and the Arab boycott of the summit.
Deputy Editor-in-chief of al-Ahram paper Ameen Mohamed Ameen said that the Egyptians are not traitors and Lebanon’s boycott of the summit is not useful. Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiar Zebari said that Damascus’s summit is the summit of Arab solidarity.

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.