- 4. The Saudi-Egyptian summit which will be held tomorrow in Sharm-esh-Sheik raises questions in the political and press circles about the choice of the two sides in dealing with the resolutions of Damascus’s summit and the area’s files. The US pressure continues to involve Riyadh and Cairo in more stands and practices against Syria which receives the Israeli threats through confirming the will of steadfastness and confrontation.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Berri’s Successful Visit and the Loyalists’ Disputes

Press and political circles in Lebanon focused on the house speaker Nabih Berri’s visit to Damascus and his meeting with president Bashar al-Assad. The press covered the following developments:
- 1. The house speaker announced in Damascus that president Bashar al-Assad informed him of Syria’s commitment to what the Lebanese agree on and Syria’s adoption of the resolutions of the dialogue conference concerning the Syrian-Lebanese relations. The opposition sources said this stand makes the issue of the Syrian-Lebanese relations an agenda ready for implementation through forming the unity government and electing a president.
- 2. The house speaker also announced that Syria supports the Arab initiative and is ready to cooperate to reach Lebanese conciliation. The house speaker included his visit to Syria in the program of his Arab tour and started it with visiting the state which chairs the Arab summit.
- 3. Prime minister al-Siniora expressed escalating stands in Cairo announcing his rejection of the house speaker’s initiative which calls for a new round of Lebanese dialogue and holding a new meeting for the Arab foreign ministers. The Arab league secretary general said there is no official demand for this yet.
- 4. Representative Saad al-Hariri informed al-Manar channel of his preliminary welcome of Berri’s initiative demanding a prior understanding on the agenda while Gagea coordinated with al-Siniora in escalating against the house speaker.
- 5. Other loyal sources welcomed Berri’s initiative and expressed readiness for response. This means when al-Hariri returns, the loyal circles will witness a heated debate which will express these differences, similar to the discussions concerning the participation in the Arab summit which led to boycotting the summit despite some loyal voices which said that the results revealed the correctness of their stand concerning participation.

Arab and International Press

The Syrian daily Tichrin said the Arab relief concerning Damascus’s summit results is suitable for unifying Arab stands.
Jo Galloway said in an article that when George Bush leaves the White House he will leave behind him a long list of fearful problems.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij said that Nelson Mandela who liberated his people from slavery and won Nobel Prize for peace is still a terrorist from the US perspective.
Al-Riyadh said Iraq suffered for three decades destructive wars and cruel periods of occupation and conflicts.
Al-Hayat said nobody left the Arab summit happy or unhappy, but Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice were unhappy because Syria succeeded in breaking the isolation.
The Qatari paper al-Rayah said all the problems of the Arab area resulted from Arab divisions.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

Editor-in-chief of Strategic Axes magazine Ghaleb Kandil said it is clear from al-Siniora’s statements in Cairo that he refuses the initiative of the house speaker Nabih Berri.
The journalist Naufal Dao said the house speaker visited Syria not as a house speaker but as a partisan.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said that president Bashar al-Assad stressed during his reception of the Lebanese house speaker Nabih Berri offering all the possible help that the Lebanese brothers demand.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said Saudi Arabia moves to the direct attack on dialogue in Lebanon and coordinates with Washington to destroy the conciliation in this country.
Al-Akhbar said that the house speaker Nabih Berri returned yesterday from his surprising visit to Syria with a Syrian stand that supports dialogue among Lebanese sides.
An-Nahar said the house speaker won Syria’s support for his call for dialogue while the prime minister won Egypt support for his call for holding a meeting for Arab foreign ministers. This practically means that the Lebanese crisis will continue spinning in an empty ring under the pressures of the division of the Arab axes which resulted from Damascus’s summit.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the house speaker’s visit to Syria stirred the stagnant waters but the loyalists insist on obstructing any solution or initiative.
The NTV said Berri is in Damascus, al-Siniora is in Egypt, Gagea returned from Washington while al-Hariri does not dare to oppose the Saudi policy so he stayed in Riyadh.
The NBN said the house speaker’s visit to Damascus is equal to the event and important.
The OTV said the house speaker seemed armed with the support of his allies in the opposition, while al-Siniora said he who is not considered a team can not call for dialogue.
The LBC said it seems as if there are two states in Lebanon: one that boycotts Damascus and the other goes to Damascus.
The Future said the house speaker announced that he will visit Saudi Arabia to abridge the gap in the viewpoints between Damascus and Riyadh; it seems that Saudi Arabia decided to increase its coordination with Egypt.

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.