An event and a Regional Trend

Sharm el-Sheik Summit and the Area’s Files

The Sharm el-Sheik summit between the Egyptian president and the Saudi king coincides with the fifth anniversary of Baghdad’s occupation amid the rise of the resistance operations against the US occupation and Mugtada al-Sadr’s delay of the demonstration of the million due to the field circumstances that the US and the Iraqi government operations impose on al-Mahdi army and in the light of the US military maneuvers and the Israeli threats against Syria and Gaza to prepare for Bush’s visit on mid-May on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishing of the Israeli state. The press information said this anniversary will witness a meeting which will join Abbas, Olmert, Bush and Mubarak in Sharm esh-Sheik to sign a declaration of principles between the Palestinian authority and Israel.
The Saudi-Egyptian meeting will discuss the topics of Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Arab-Arab relations. It takes place after Damascus’s summit. This pushed observers to wonder if the two sides will continue their known stands towards Syria or respond to the endeavors that aim at correcting Arab – Arab relations.
The circulated information said the moderate states’ axis is confused due to the US demands to cover the Israeli operation in Gaza and due to the events in Egypt which pushed some leaders in Egypt to pressurize to keep a distance from the Saudi stand towards Syria and the condition in Lebanon in case the Saudi king insists on his stands. The sources of the leaders in Egypt said Egypt should not slip into any escalation against Syria after the success of Damascus’s summit and in the shadow of the Israeli threats against Syria.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Al-Siniora and his Friend Kouchner

Lebanese press and political circles focused on the interactions and developments related to the call of the house speaker Nabih Berri for resuming dialogue and the results of his visit to Syria. The press covered the following important developments:
- 1. The French foreign minister Kouchner issued a statement that attacked the house speaker Berri and admitted the disappearance of the witness Zuheir al-Siddiq. He launched a campaign on Hezbollah’s armament. The French sources informed the sources of Nabih Berri that France withdrew Kouchner’s statements while a source in the Lebanese opposition said the statements of Kouchner are an American bill as usual and reveals that there is an American decision to prevent any solution in Lebanon.
- 2. The statement of Tripoli bloc which welcomed the stand of president Bashar al-Assad, and the statement of the representative Botros Harb and the atmospheres of president Gemayel reveal that there are differences among the loyalists concerning the topic of relations with Syria.
- 3. The report of head of the international investigation commission Bellemer to the Security Council, which demanded extending the commission’s work, the Russian question about the condition of the four arrested officers and Bellemer’s answer that this issue should be transferred to the Lebanese judiciary, and that his commission has no relation to this issue, attracted the attention of the press and may lead to new interactions in this topic. Bellemar described the Syrian cooperation as complete and stressed the criminal nature of his commission’s work and the tribunal’s work. The press said he denied that he knew about the disappearance of the witness Zuheir al-Siddiq whose case changed into a scandal in France while some press sources said that some loyalists are involved in smuggling him into a Gulf state.
- 4. Prime minister al-Siniora continued his Arab tour and lowered the ceiling of his statements by giving up the call for the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting, but he continued his campaign against the opposition.
- 5. The press said the opposition continued its movements on the organizational level to develop its stand towards the next stage. The loyalists talked about differences in the opposition concerning the sizes and the positions while the opposition sources said there are discussions on the best formulas for organizing the opposition in order to preserve its role and weight outside the logic of rankings and hierarchy.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate newspaper al-Khalij said in its editorial the US works to prolong the occupation of Iraq.
The Israeli paper Yidiot Aharonot said the minimized Israeli government for political and security issues participated in the Israeli army exercise in the internal front.
The Guardian said there is a draft secret agreement between the US and the Iraqi government which allows the US forces to stay in Iraq for unspecific period.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said the former US secretary of state Madeline Albright said peace is America’s enemy.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that on the fifth anniversary of the occupation of Iraq this country seems standing on the edge of the abyss.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said Iran celebrates today the national day of nuclear technology and will install six thousands centrifuges.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said that the parliament is entering its final year and the vacuum approaches to the parliament.
Al-Akhbar said there is no local or foreign development which indicates the coming course of the Lebanese crisis pointing out that the house speaker expressed surprise concerning Kouchner’s statements which said that the house speaker is not free.
Ad-Diyar talked about what it called as Zuheir al-Siddiq’s scandal which the French foreign minister confirmed without announcing any internal investigations.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the French foreign minister confirmed the disappearance of the witness Zuheir al-Siddiq opening the door for questions on the French role in the international investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese premier Rafiq al-Hariri after the disappearance of the false witness who has the key to the fabricated story.
The NTV said the witness disappeared from Paris wondering where the influence of the Hariri family in this capital is.
The NBN quoted French sources which said that the statement that the press attributed to the French foreign minister concerning Lebanon is not precise.
The OTV said the house speaker proposed his initiative in two stages: solving the disputes between Damascus and Riyadh and returning to the table of dialogue in Lebanon.
The LBC said the positive stand of Damascus, which the house speaker talked about, did not open the way for launching his initiative.
The Future said the Security Council will discuss tonight the first report of the head of the international commission Daniel Bellemer on the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq al-Hariri.

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.