An Event and a Regional Trend

A New Iraqi Epoch

The US dilemma in Iraq continues to escalate according to analysts, while the course of the current developments reveals that Bush will not find anything that he can describe as an achievement.
- 1. President Bush described the battles that targeted Al-Mahdi army as part of the security implementation plan and a turning point in carrying out Petraeus’s plan under the title of helping the Iraqis to get rid of the Sadrists.
- 2. The battles revealed the strength of al-Sadr trend and the size of the popular support for it. These two factors enabled al-Mahdi army to confront the US-Iraqi attack and force al-Maleki government to accept the ceasefire.
- 3. Al-Sadr’s call for the demonstration of the million which will witness the participation of people from different sects horrified the Americans and the forces linked to them. For the first time in Iraq, a big Shia force appears and commits to resistance and can build bridges with the other Iraqi components.

An event and a Lebanese Trend

Lebanese circles focused on a number of issues related to the political crisis and the danger of changing the Israeli military exercises into a new war.:
- 1. The scandal of the disappearance of the false witness Zuher al-Siddiq jumped to the forefront. He is supposed to be in France under custody. This is the witness that the former head of the international committee depended on when he demanded arresting the four Lebanese officers. Judge Serge Brammertz said this witness is a liar, but the French authorities refused to hand him to Lebanese judiciary.
The press reports which came from Paris confirmed the disappearance of al-Siddiq and his family. Other information said he was transferred to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates through preparations with Gulf and Lebanese authorities. Former minister Michel Smaha revealed this and the press reports confirmed it later and published further details. The lawyers of the four leaders considered the first report of the investigator Bellemare a sufficient reason for releasing the detainees, who were considered by the UN and the US department of state as political prisoners.
- 2. The political movement concerning the crisis interacted with the house speaker’s communications, which aim at calling for a new dialogue. The house speaker’s efforts coincided with the warning issued by General Michel Suleiman. The analysts considered this warning as a cry against al-Siniora’s government’s behavior concerning the Arab summit. The army’s leader also announced readiness to confront any Israeli aggression that may accompany the coming Israeli military exercises.
- 3. Political circles focused on the proposals of former minister Suleiman Franjiyeh, which considered the 1960 elections law enough to allow the opposition’s representatives to participate in electing a consensus president... Some loyalists welcomed Franjiyeh’s statements while the opposition said the topic of the elections law is the most important title in the loyalists’ stand towards the crisis.
- 4. Lebanese street is in a state of boiling under the pressure of the economic deterioration and is concerned about the Israeli military exercises which will start tomorrow. Lebanese press said that Israel has informed the UNIFIL that that it does not intend to attack Lebanon.
- 5. The press focuses on the international and regional movement and its reflections on conditions in Lebanon. The press raised questions on the nature of the equations that will prevail in the area when Bush’s administration leaves office. Analysts, who are close to the loyalists, said that the new US administration will resort to negotiations with Syria and this will lead to collapses on the front of Syria’s rivals.

Arab and International Press

The Syrian paper Tichreen said the US Congress fabricated the case of “Jewish Refugees” and called on the US administration to recognize this.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said the US did not achieve its goals in the NATO summit which concluded its meetings in Bucharest.
Al-Bayan said the leaks about the NATO summit reflect an atmosphere of optimism after two years of the cold war atmospheres that reactivated the atmospheres of the historic cold war.
Dr. Jana Yurisovna said in an article that there is no doubt that the soaring prices of energy revived the economies of the countries that produce energy.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said that the US and Israel made a joint decision to boycott the UN conference on fighting racism which will be held in South Africa in the first half of 2009 because it will focus on Israel’s violations in the field of human rights.
Israeli sources expressed concern over the increasing Syrian intelligence activity against Israel.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said that Israeli minister of security escapes the fire of Palestinian resistance.

Lebanese Press

Al-Nahar quoted a source in the government as saying that there is nothing new in the data related to the Arab initiative.
Ad-Diyar said that al-Siniora’s government lost real opportunities to rebuild the institutions.
As-Safir said Israel will start tomorrow the biggest military exercise in which the government and the citizens will participate. The maneuvers will continue for five days.
The paper added that Hezbollah is in a state of readiness.
Al-Akhbar said French sources confirmed the disappearance of the Syrian witness in the case of Rafiq al-Hariri’s assassination.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the crisis is stagnant despite the stone that General Michel Suleiman threw in the stagnant waters.
The NTV said the house speaker has two initiatives: the first passed away while the majority considers the second as wasting time.
The NBN wondered if General Michel Sulieman’s stand will motivate the other politicians to leave the empty ring.
The OTV said the loyalists considered the house speaker’s call for dialogue as an attempt to gain time.
The LBC said the Arab summit ended and is bout to enter the realm of oblivion.
The Future said the political maneuvers push the country to more divisions.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Frankly
Lebanese minister of sports and the youths Ahmed Fatfat said that Lebanon did not boycott the summit but it did not participate in it. He added that the government has the authorities of the president and can appoint a successor for general Suleiman.

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.