An Event and a Regional Trend

The regional scene focused on Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting in Kuwait while the Palestinian event interacted politically and in the field. The press covered the following developments:
- 1. Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting issued repeated recommendations and did show any commitments to cancel Iraq’s debts or to open embassies in Baghdad. Experts described the meeting as a festival of public relations while the Americans said Damascus’s meeting was the real one and dealt with the security issues that America considers a priority.
- 2. The climate of the meeting refers to direct and indirect communications that Washington tries to follow up with Damascus and Tehran but it is still using the logic of moving in accordance with the recommendations of Baker-Hamilton, which urged to discuss comprehensive compromises with Syria and Iran to solve the crisis in Iraq. This US stand appears in the secret negotiations and the continuous political escalation and the attempt to separate between Iraq and the other files in the area especially the Lebanese file and the Palestinian topic which is still a priority to Bush’s coming tour.
- 3. The Palestinian resistance showed an advanced field capabilities. The Israeli analysts warned from the danger of invading Gaza while the option of political negotiations with Hamas is still under discussion while America and Israel care about the status of Mahmud Abbas and his team.
- 4. The indirect negotiations through the mediation of the director of the Egyptian intelligence continue. Hamas is supposed to offer its answer to the Israeli proposal concerning the ceasefire in Gaza. Palestinian analysts believe that the US administration and Olmert’s government want to use Bush’s visit to sign the declaration of principles in a climate of limited tension that does not witness military operations.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Berri’s Attacks and Kuwait’s Statement

The developments related to the Lebanese conditions continued on the internal and external levels. A source in the opposition considered Kuwait’s conference’s statement as an implementation of the US decision to change the agreement on the president to a submission imposed on the opposition through limiting the Arab initiative to one item and internationalize it in collaboration with Sharm esh Sheik’s Arab states.
The press covered the following developments:
- 1. The parliamentary session is delayed due to the incomplete constitutional quorum. The house speaker retaliated against his critics through a new dialogue initiative that linked the elections of the president with a declaration of intentions about the elections law and the government.
- 2. The stands of the loyalists towards the house speaker are clearly different. This was manifested in the presence of Walid Junblat with Berri and the attack of Gagea and the Future Trend on Berri and his initiative that Ggaea said: it is hollow.
- 3. The meeting that the France organized in Kuwait was an occasion for a statement that called for electing the Lebanese president immediately and supporting al-Siniora’s government. The Syrian foreign minister said the meeting was dedicated for destroying the Arab initiative in accordance with a US demand and that the US tries to internationalize the crisis. Al-Moullaem said in a press conference that he advised the Arab league not to attend the meeting while he described France’s dealing with Syria’s invitation as impolite, because it did not discuss the idea before. Kouchner tried to correct the mistake in the last moment but al-Mouallem refused this stressing Syria’s clinging to its dignity.
- 4. The Lebanese crisis is discussed on the margin of Kuwait’s conference in two meetings:
a) The meeting between Kouchner and al-Mouallem in which Kouchner belittled the importance of its results to satisfy Saudi Arabia and the US.
b) The meeting between the Iranian foreign minister and the Saudi foreign minister which discussed regional issues including the condition in Lebanon and the Syrian-Saudi relations.
The talks between the Egyptian president and the French president yesterday covered also the Lebanese issue:
a) Tension continues in Zahleh between the loyalists and the opposition and the reactions focused on asking the security organs to prevent the deterioration of the condition.
b) Opposing Christian sides consider the consensus on Michel Suleiman is no longer existent and cling to nominating General Michel Aoun again or searching for other names.
c) The retaliations of the opposition continued against the provocative statements of David Welch. Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah Naeem Qasem said resistance is able to confront the US threats. This pushed the US embassy to issue a statement that belittled the importance of Welch’s negative statements.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said in its editorial the Zionist entity does not distinguish between Hamas and Fateh or between the authority or the opposition.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial Iraq’s neighboring states’ meeting takes place in a critical stage and Iraq needs at this moment the support of its neighbors.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said hunger and the food crisis threatens the rich and the poor in the world.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said the Olmert created more problems to the state and children can not sleep due to the missiles of Hamas.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said the Italian government whose term will end gave up its stand that opposes expanding the sanctions against Iran.

Satellite Stations’ Interviews

The Syrian satellite station
A special covering on the 30th anniversary of arresting the captive Sameer al-Qintar
Basam al-Qintar, the brother of Sameer al-Qintar said Israel did not allow Sameer to contact his family except three times and for a number of minutes.
The press official in the Palestinian Liberation Front Ali Aziz said the operation that Sameer carried out has a national aspect.
The liberated captive Ahmed Abu Hadbah said Israel uses captives as a paper for bargaining.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said foreign minister al-Mouallem discussed with French foreign minister relations between the two countries and regional issues.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said the house speaker did not set a new date for the parliamentary session to elect the Lebanese president but launched a new call for dialogue.
An-Nahar said the chance to elect the president is missed again and no date is set for another chance.
As-Safir said the group of what is called as Lebanon’s friends met in Kuwait to escalate the Lebanese crisis and expand disputes among the Lebanese sides.
Al-Akhbar said Kuwait’s meeting destroyed the Arab initiative concerning Lebanon.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar quoted the Syrian foreign minister as saying that the aim of the meetings in Kuwait is internationalizing the Lebanese crisis.
The NBN said the parliamentary session for electing the president is delayed.
The NBN said apart from the heated statements it became certain for every one that solution of the Lebanese crisis lies in dialogue.
The OTV said the criminal who killed the two persons in Zahleh is still free.
The LBC said for the first time the house speaker delays the parliamentary session until further notice and linked it to agreement on dialogue.
The Future said the majority’s decision to attend the parliamentary session revealed an ambush which was deliberately set.

Indicators is a daily economic watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on Voltairenet.org in Arabic, English and Spanish. Also worth a read is Tendencies, the daily Near East political watch newsletter, available in Arabic, English, French, German, and Spanish languages.