An Event and a Regional Trend

Rice’s tour in the area coincided with Damascus’s summit which added a new failure to the US policy in the Middle East after the defeat of the US-Israeli project in Gaza.
Rice failed in preventing Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas from attending the summit although she succeeded in influencing the Jordanian stand. The experts said the US failure is manifested in two essential issues:
- 1. The presence and participation of a big number of Arab leaders who are considered as Washington’s friends. They came to announce their rejection of the logic of domination in the Arab regional system that America started to lay its foundation since the occupation of Iraq. Even, Mouamar Khadafi, whose stand at the summit was described as extremist, established good relations with the US since compromising Lockerbie’s case.
- 2. The important echoes and interactions of president Bashar al-Assad’s speech while those who did not attend the summit started to express their regret and revise their calculations. They appeared before the Arab street as sides that obeyed the US orders to boycott an Arab state that adopts the option of resistance.

Observers said that Rice’s tour in the area aimed at deepening the Palestinian division through obstructing the Yemeni initiative and asking Abbas and his team to show more cooperation with the occupation in chasing resistance. Rice will practically allow signing a declaration of principles between Israel and the Palestinian authority in the middle of May, which may change to an Arab-Israeli summit on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the usurpation of Palestine. Some analysts linked this to the Saudi Kingdom’s invitation of some Israeli rabbis to a religious conference in Saudi Arabia.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Damascus’s Summit and the Lebanese Interactions

The echoes of Damascus’s summit and the stands towards it dominated the Lebanese political and press scene:
- 1. Neutral analysts said that Damascus’s summit succeeded and Syria won politically in this round. The loyalists’ campaigns targeted Syria and the opposition again, but loyal sources said that the absence of al-Siniora from the summit is still a topic for an internal debate. Those who supported participation felt the results confirmed the correctness of their point of view and the government lost an important opportunity.
- 2. The retaliation of General Michel Aoun against the Saudi foreign minister who held the opposition responsible for the failure of the Arab initiative which stressed that the items of the initiative should stay complete. Aoun hailed the Syrian statements that it is impossible to force the opposition to offer concessions and held the loyalists responsible for the failure of the initiative.
- 3. The house speaker will start a European tour while some papers talked about an Algerian initiative to achieve conciliation among Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Egyptian side announced its response to the Algerian endeavors.
- 4. The appearance of the Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moulaem and his deputy Faisal al-Miqdad in the Lebanese press and their explanation of the summit’s success. They also talked about bargains that asked Syria to interfere in Lebanon in return for concessions in the file of al-Hariri’s assassination.
- 5. The patriarch Sfeir warned from the consequences of expanding the government.
- 6. The opposition started to organize its work in the shadow of the talk about dialogue between the Patriarchy and general Aoun and the patriarchy’s rejection of bias to any side.

Arab and International Press

James Zogby said that he called the US government for 30 years to protect its citizens who descend from Arab origins and who travel to Israel and the occupied Palestinian area but in vain.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said Damascus’s summit succeeded and opened the way for a new Arab time.
The Saudi paper al-Watan said Damascus’s summit ended without offering any solution for the Lebanese crisis.
The Emirati paper al-Bayan said in its editorial that Rice’s shuttle diplomacy in the area stayed on the margin of the problem.
Al-Riyadh said Rice did not achieve any result on the ground.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

ANB
Special Interview
Foreign minister Walid al-Moualem said the Arab leaders liked president Bashar al-Assad and interacted with him pointing out that those who stand behind the international tribunal offered Syria deals which said: facilitate the election of the Lebanese president; we liberate you from the tribunal.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syria satellite station said the Arab leaders stressed their support for Syria’s right to restore the occupied Golan.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said Syria stressed its commitment to the Arab initiative concerning Lebanon while Saudi Arabia and Egypt linked solving Arab-Arab disputes to the solution of the Lebanese crisis.
Al-Akhbar said that Syria launched an initiative of calming down with Egypt through an Algerian mediation.
The paper quoted Egyptian sources as saying that Syria called Egypt for a serious and deep dialogue to explain what Damascus considers necessary for dissipating the cloud.
Ad-Diyar said Damascus’s summit stressed commitment to the Arab initiative concerning Lebanon and that the idea of electing the president without forming a unity government fell.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said that the loyalists started an organized attack on Damascus’s summit.
The NTV wondered what will happen to Lebanon after the Arab summit.
The NBN said the Arab summit in Damascus did not offer any key for solving the Lebanese crisis despite its commitment to the Arab initiative concerning Lebanon.
The OTV said the Lebanese arena witnesses tension while the Arab arena witnesses mediations to solve Arab-Arab disputes.
The LBC said the Lebanese crisis is stagnant in the shadow of the contradictory interpretations of the Arab initiative.
The Future said the Arab summit applied the policy of the ostrich concerning Lebanon and believed that Syria does not interfere in Lebanon and does not want to.

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.