An Event and a Regional Trend

Muqtada al-Sadr Confronts George Bush

Since the US president’s declaration of the beginning of the military campaign against al-Mahdi army, events developed in Iraq and the focus of attention is destroying the military power of al-Sadr trend. The US intelligence considers this trend as an environment for recruiting resisting cells that liberate the operations against occupation from the sectarian identity and lay the foundation of a new Iraqi patriotism against the divisions that the Americans nurture according to Arab and US analysts.
The priority is fighting al-Sadr and his trend as the US secretary of state put it yesterday during her surprising visit to Iraq in the eve of Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting in Kuwait which starts today.
Press reports said the preliminary meetings of experts did not reach a draft statement that includes something new. The meetings stressed the previous statement of the neighboring states on the level of supporting the political process and cooperation in the borders’ measures with the Iraqi authorities. Political and press sources in Kuwait said the crucial American priority is getting spiritual, security and political support for al-Maleki’s government’s war on al-Sadr trend.
Arab analysts and experts said the US serious attempts in the corridors concentrate on exploring the possible lines of progress in negotiations with both Syria and Iran and all the files will be in this portfolio. Some analysts said the meeting in Kuwait will be the last meeting of the neighboring states on the level of foreign ministers that Bush’s administration participates in.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

From al-Najmah Square to Kuwait

The Lebanese scene is full of stands that raise questions and expectations but analysts said the deadlock will continue in the face of the stagnant political and constitutional crisis:
- 1. The house speaker did not announce yesterday delaying the session for electing the president as it happened before. The loyalists announced that their representatives will go to the parliament while the opposition’s representative will also come. It is expected that Berri will delay the session due to the incomplete constitutional quorum. Meanwhile, patriarch Sfeir stressed the principle of the constitutional quorum after Sameer Gaga’s declaration that it is possible to elect the president with the half plus one quorum.
- 2. A meeting on Lebanon will be held on the margin of Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting in Kuwait under France’s sponsorship in order to generalize the US code according to a source in the Lebanese opposition. This will aim at limiting the Arab initiative to one item which is the election of the president unless the Russian presence imposes a balance and limit the US-French rhetoric, which is adopted by the Sharm esh-Sheik’s moderate states. Press sources said that the French foreign minister will not discuss the Lebanese issue with the Syrian foreign minister during their meeting in Kuwait.
- 3. Saudi Arabia escalated its tone against Lebanon through targeting the Lebanese opposition accusing it of serving foreign sides. Saudi Arabia completely ignored the Israeli danger against Lebanon and the US intervention. It is to be noted that the US secretary of state rice and her assistant Welch talked about a hot summer in Lebanon.
- 4. The endeavors continued to contain Zahleh’s events and the head of the phalangists party belittled the importance of the threats against his militias.
- 5. Political circles warned from the interactions of the political campaigns which were launched by Representative Michel al-Murr through the movements that call for electing the president.
- 6. Terry Roed Larsen’s report on the resolution 1559 attacks Hezbollah and the Lebanese opposition in a way that represents Larsen’s connections with Israel. The correspondents in New York said it will be difficult to issue a resolution on Lebanon after the hard labor of the Security Council’s statement on the resolution 1701which resulted in modifying the proposed French formula.

Arab and International Press

The Syrian daily Tichrin said the national thought is the guarantee for achieving the Arab nation’s interests.
James Zogby said in a statement said the silliness of the electoral campaign of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama will not lead to anything. It will delay the winning of Obama and damage the electoral campaign.
The Emirate paper al-Khalij wondered about the nature of the spring that Rice promised Iraq during her surprising visit.
Yidiot Aharonot said Hamas’s qualitative operations have a strategic significance.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that what is strange in the Lebanese crisis is that all the involved sides raise the same slogans and cling to the same conditions, but it seems that the devil is in the details.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

ANB
Contests
Editor-in-chief of al-Quds al-Arabi paper Abdul Bari Attwan said that Carter’s visit admits that there is another Palestinian authority in addition to Abbas’s, pointing out that the Arabs cooperate with America and Israel in besieging Syria.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said president Bashar al-Assad received the delegation of the international Churches Council and stressed dialogue among peoples.

Lebanese Press

An-Nahar wondered if the house speaker hides anything for the 18th session of the parliament or if there will be a surprise during the session.
As-Safir talked about tension in Zahleh adding that the parliamentary session will be a translation of Michel Al-Murr’s stand.
Al-Akhbar quoted informed sources as saying that the house speaker expressed his resentment at the Saudi stand towards the crisis and the Saudi rejection of receiving him.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar wondered about the hot summer that David Welch promised Lebanon and linked it to the assassinations that his student talked about.
The NTV said the US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice stressed that the Lebanese crisis will be discussed on the margin of Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting in Kuwait.
The NBN said communications continued to contain the events in Zahleh.
The OTV said what is dangerous is the deployment of al-Hariri’s militias in the heart of the Christian areas.
The LBC said a state of tension between the phalangists and the supporters of the representative Elli Skaf dominates Zahleh.
The Future said France called for a meeting on Lebanon without the participation of Iran and 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 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.