An Event and a Regional Trend

The US Bet which is surrounded with Dilemmas

The results of Damascus’s summit activated a number of tracks in the regional political reality and seems as a turning point after Syria succeeded in overcoming the US pressures which tried to obstruct the summit:
- 1. The US movements continue and the US machine in the area tries to raise the spirits of Bush’s allies after the slap of Damascus’s summit’s success. The US diplomats set dates for a change in the regional climate which will coincide with Bush’s visit to the area in mid-May. The US president bets on achieving a political breakthrough through signing a declaration of principles between the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the atmospheres of the 60th anniversary of the usurpation of Palestine. If the signature takes place the US administration will ask the Sharm esh-Sheik states to attend the Israeli celebrations officially and on a representational level.
- 2. The leaders of some states who participated in the summit moved to purify the Arab atmospheres. This takes place in coordination with president Bashar al-Assad through implementing the summit’s resolutions concerning Arab solidarity.
- 3. It is clear that the Israeli-US pressures may lead to field escalation in Gaza and the West Bank. Sources in the resistance factions think the US insists on preventing any Palestinian national unity and that Sana initiative is a US attempt to push the Palestinian authority towards more concessions in return for formal Israeli steps.
- 4. Experts in regional affairs said that the recent events in Iraq raise the deep concern of the Americans due to the strong and popular presence of al-Sadr trend in Iraq which opposes occupation. This means that the coming stage will witness more chapters of the US dilemma in Iraq that may affect Bush’s eagerness to do something on the Palestinian track.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The press in Lebanon focused on a set of titles and axes:
- 1. The social issue jumped again to the forefront with the preparations to carry out a comprehensive educational strike within the framework of the private and public sectors’ teachers’ movement to demand increasing salaries and compensating the effects of inflation and the high prices in the shadow of al-Siniora’s government’s rejection of responding to the syndicates’ demands.
- 2. The political debate which was activated by the statements of the Saudi foreign minister, which accused the opposition of obstructing the solution, led to more retaliations by the opposition, which accused Saudi Arabia of bias to the ruling team. The opposition rejected the Saudi cover of the loyalists’ stand which is responsible for obstructing all the initiatives.
- 3. The house speaker continued his movements and communications while the loyalists continued their campaign against the house speaker’s call for dialogue.
- 4. The opposition continued its discussions concerning taking organizational steps while press sources said the loyal leaders will meet to announce a political stand towards the current developments and the idea of the house speaker concerning the call for dialogue. Al-Siniora said the expansion of his government is linked to consultations with spiritual leaders but observers said this means that he dropped this option in the shadow of the known reservations.
- 5. The climate that followed the success of Damascus’s summit continued its pressures on the loyalists after long months of mobilization and provocation.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij wondered how it is possible to achieve peace on the Palestinian track in the shadow of the Israeli settlement policy.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said the main disputes among the NATO members in their current summit is the membership of Ukraine and Georgia and the missiles shield.
Official sources in Tokyo said that the Israeli prime minister said privately to his Japanese counterpart that the target that the Israeli war jets destroyed in Syria was a nuclear installation which was under construction with North Korean help.
The Saudi paper al-Watan said the US secretary of state’s attempts to activate peace on the Palestinian track seem strange and raise many question marks.
An Israeli press report said that Egyptian defense minister Hussein Tantawi and head of the intelligence Omar Suleiaman secretly visited Washington to prepare for a five-sided summit in Sharm esh-Sheik which will be attended by Israel, Egypt, the US, Jordan and the Palestinian authority.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

The Syrian satellite Station said that the Israeli occupation delayed the trial of the Syrian journalist Atta Farhat until next July.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said that despite the exceptional success of Damascus’s summit there are some voices that doubt its success and their goal is targeting Syria.
As-Safir said the crazy soaring of prices and the economic deterioration in Lebanon threaten to push the condition towards the worst.
Al-Akhbar said the loyalists and the opposition started to set new plans to accompany the new stand that resulted from the Arab summit pointing out that the March 14 forces prepare for holding a meeting and wait for the return of the Future Trend’s leader from abroad.
The paper added that the opposition agreed on forming a seven-sided committee to prepare a political document that represents all the understandings among its sides.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said that despite the authority’s forces campaign against Damascus to distort its image, Syria directed the summit’s agenda cleverly opening the door for repairing Arab relations.
The NTV said the Lebanese decided to lie on themselves.
The NBN quoted Representative Ali Hasan Khalil as saying that the house speaker will condense his movements in order to reach a compromise.
The OTV said the Algerian mediation between Syria and Egypt did lead to any result yet.
The LBC said the truce of the summit dissipated and the language of confrontation among Arab sides returned,
The Future said the opposition prepares for attacking the government.

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.