An Event and a Regional Trend

Sharm el-Sheik and Gaza

Political and press circles focused on Sharm el-Sheik summit, condition in Gaza and the Israeli maneuvers:
- 1. The press said Egypt tries to convince the Saudi king to participate in the summit of Sharm esh-Sheik which the US president Bush will chair on the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Israel.
- 2. The press said Mubarak and Abdullah agreed to give a chance to the Algerian endeavors concerning the relations with Syria. Other sources said Sharm esh-Sheik summit authorized the Arab league secretary general to start endeavors with Damascus. The summit’s results revealed that the Saudi and Egyptian sides agreed on linking solving the dispute with Syria to the Lebanese topic.
- 3. Israel plans to invade Gaza and carry out a wave of assassinations and destruction. The Palestinian resistance succeeded in dealing a painful blow to the Israeli army through two attacks that resulted in killing three Israelis and wounding a number of others. Press and political sources said the endeavors of calming down collapsed and Cairo started to threaten resistance and warn it from violating the borders between Gaza and Egypt.
- 4. The Israeli press and political sources continued to market the predictions concerning the possible retaliation of Hezbollah. A state of confusion dominates the Israelis despite the threats to launch a comprehensive war against Syria and Lebanon if Hezbollah retaliates. The press said that an Arab state which is involved in the assassination of Mugnieh asked Qatar and Amman to mediate with Syria to delay announcing the results of the investigation in the aftermath of the information about arresting a Saudi officer who works at his country’s embassy in Damascus and proving that he is involved in the crime.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Al-Siddiq Case and Junblat’s problem with Russia

Lebanese press covered the following developments:
- 1. The continuity of debate on the house speaker’s call for dialogue and a new meeting to discuss the items of the Arab initiative. Loyal circles from the Lebanese Forces and the Future Trend continued their campaign on Berri and his initiative while Gamayel visited Berri and welcomed the call for dialogue.
- 2. The house speaker retaliated against the French foreign minister with a vehement statement in which he said that Kouchner betrayed the friendship denying that he asked for a date to visit France. The press said that the French Charge de affaires informed Berri of his country’s support to his endeavors that aim at resuming internal dialogue.
- 3. Michel al-Murr called in a popular meeting for accelerating the election of the president. This was described as a separation from the alliance with General Michel Oun that ends his membership in the bloc of reform and change. The loyalists used this to talk about the deterioration of general Oun’s popularity.
- 4. The case of Zuheir al-Siddiq interacted after the French admission of his disappearance and despite the Kuwaiti paper al-Siyasah’s information which said the paper received a phone call from al-Siddiq in which he said that he disappeared to protect his life and that the international committee did offer him protection and will wait for the tribunal to start its work then he will appear again. Al-Siddiq family in Damascus said it accuses the sides that fabricated the false testimony of al-Siddiq and holds France responsible for his destiny. On the other hand, some sources raise doubts on the correctness of al-Siyasah paper’s information.
- 5. Walid Junblat publicly criticized the stand of Russia toward the four arrested security officers at the Security Council and Bellmar’s pledge to ask the Lebanese judiciary about this. Political sources said Russia takes a new stand towards the Lebanese condition. One of its signs that disturbed Junblat is the visit of the Russian ambassador to the former minister Weam Wahhab. This raises many questions on the secrets of Junalt’s crisis with Russia.
- 6. A number of loyal circles stressed that they kept clear political distances from the March 14 alliance and it seems that the stands of Botros Harb and Tripoli bloc and president Gemael’s circles may develop into an ice ball. A source in the opposition said this is a preparation for the post-Bush stage.

Arab and International Press

The Syria daily Tichrin said the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad should be an Iraqi occasion for reviewing the condition.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial the Crocker - Petraeus testimony at the Congress reveals that the US forces will stay in Iraq.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said the US administration is interested in holding Sharm el-Sheik’s summit which will coincide with Bush’s visit to the area.
Al-Riyadh said the change from a Republican administration to a Democratic one will not lead to a change in the US strategy on the international level.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said Russia stressed that the solution should be comprehensive in the Middle East.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said Representative Michel Al-Murr announced his independence of any political trend or bloc in Lebanon and called for forming a body to pressurize the representatives to accelerate electing a president.
Al-Akhbar said Sharm el-Sheik summit focused on the Lebanese issue and linked solving disputes with Syria to the solution of the Lebanese crisis.
Ad-Diyar said the US scandal concerning the disappearance of Zuher al-Siddiq interacts. The disappearance is a topic for many interpretations because France admitted it but did not announce that he left the country.
The paper added that information in Paris said the Yugoslav and Turkish mafia eliminated him.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the disappearance of Zuher al-Siddiq changed him into a witness on those who misled the international investigation.
The NTV said there is an international resolution to extend the presidential vacuum.
The NBN said the Palestinian resistance called its recent operation against Nahal Oz colony as the operation of breaking the siege.
The OTV said the loyalists continued their attacks against the house speaker.
The LBC talked about Sharm esh-Sheik’s summit between the Saudi king and the Egyptian president saying the prime minister continued his Arab tour on the rhythm of this summit.
The Future said Michel al-Murr’s declaration of his independence opened a big gap in the front of the opposition.

Television Stations’ Interviews in Lebanon

Program: Saying the Truth
Representative Botros Harb said he will prepare a political movement which is independent of the spirit of March 14 calling for correcting the relations with Syria.

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.