An Event and a Regional Trend

Iraq, Gaza and the Talks of Damascus

The press covered the following developments on a number of tracks:
- 1. The meeting of Iraq’s neighboring states was held in Damascus in the presence of Saudi and American delegations. The speakers announced their commitment to cooperation while Syria stressed that the US occupation troops’ withdrawal is a condition for Iraq’s stability. The Syrian interior minister said Syria is determined to enhance its measures on the borders with Iraq. Analysts posed a lot of questions on the reasons for holding the meeting and the US and Saudi participation. Some analysts said the participation of the US and Saudi Arabia draws clear limits for their threats that target Syria and its regime.
- 2. Tension continued in Iraq between al- Sadr Trend and the Iraqi government and the US air raids that targeted housing units in al-Sadr city retreated.
- 3. The discussion in Israel focused on two files: the first is the Iranian nuclear power. The statements of the US president Bush which said he does not intend to attack Iran shocked a number of Israeli circles. The second file is the result of the military maneuvers which the analysts described as a failure.
- 4. Gaza events continued while Israel tightened siege and prevented the arrival of supplies to the city. Hamas threatened to move to break the siege holding responsible all the sides which participate in the siege of Gaza.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Lebanese press focused on the following titles:
- 1. The house speaker Nabih Berri started his Arab tour by visiting Cairo and meeting Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian side welcomed the Lebanese dialogue saying the Lebanese crisis requires exerting more efforts.
- 2. The visit of the Saudi foreign minister to Egypt focused on the project of Sharm esh-Sheik meeting next May in the presence of the Israeli prime minister while the Egyptian foreign minister said the talks focused on solving Arab disputes, solving the crisis in Lebanon and the condition in Gaza.
- 3. Prime minister al-Siniora continued his Arab movement under the title of the call for a ministerial meeting on the Lebanese- Syrian relations but the house speaker said in Egypt that the circumstances are not ready for this idea.
- 4. A popular movement started to release the four arrested officers and a big celebration was a held under this title in Beka in the village of Jameel Al-Sayed who revealed that the German authorities asked him to convince Syria to accept the idea of offering a scapegoat to the international commission.
- 5. Observers anticipate important developments in the case of the disappearance of Zuher al-Siddiq in France in the aftermath of his confession to the French paper Le Figaro that he received money from the loyalists in return for the information against the four officers and Syria. The observers said pressures will continue to release the four officers.
- 6. The celebrations on the occasion of the civil war’s anniversary attracted the attention of the press. Calls for civil peace dominated these celebrations.
- 7. The campaigns of the loyalists against the house speaker stopped and it seems that the complex of Beirut in the elections law is the real generator for the dispute in this file.
- 8. Leader of the national liberal trend said settling the Palestinian refugees is still the center of the secret political conflict in Lebanon.

Arab and International Press

The Syrian daily Tichrin said the US and Israel distort the facts of history in order to impose their domination.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial the US president Bush does not admit that his war on Iraq was a mistake.
Joe Galloway said in an article published in Los Angeles Times that the death toll among US soldiers in Iraq reached 4000.
The Israeli paper Jerusalem Post said hundreds of photographs which contain secret information about the Israeli army were published on the internet site Face Book.

Satellite Stations News

The Syrian satellite station said the security meeting of Iraq’s neighboring states discussed the report of security and stability in Damascus summit in accordance with the Arab summit’s resolution.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar said the competitive framework of the race of Arab initiatives started between the house speaker Berri and the Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora pointing out that doubts surround the possibility of starting dialogue.
Al-Akhbar said the prime minister stressed the priority of electing the president. This was considered as a rejection for the house speaker’s initiative.
As-Safir said the exchanged letters between the Saudi king and the Egyptian president, the shuttle diplomacy between Cairo and Riyadh, the Lebanese house speaker visit to Cairo and the visit of the prime minister al-Siniora to Jordan suggested that these sides prepare something for the Lebanese file but it turned out that the Lebanese file was marginal in the Saudi-Egyptian communications.

Television Station’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar wondered if the anniversary of the Lebanese civil war will motivate the Lebanese to derive lessons from this experience.
The NTV said it is the anniversary of the civil war and it seems that its slogans are ready.
The OTV wondered if the internal dialogue is the introduction to the solution or the foreign sponsorship.
The LBC said the US works to eliminate the Palestinian cause.
The Future said the celebrations on the occasion of the civil war’s anniversary warned from the return to the curse of this war and its disasters.

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.