An Event and a Regional Trend

Obama Approaches and New Calculations

The progress that the Democratic candidate Barack Obama achieved in the preliminary presidential elections represents a qualitative sign according to analysts, especially after he secured the senior delegates and in the aftermath of the rumors, which talked about pressures on Hilary Clinton to withdraw from the race.
Analysts and experts said that Obama’s progress reflects the American people’s wish for change and their despair from the traditional policy and the escalating crises resulted from the policies of Bush’s administration.
Apart from Clinton’s stand towards the option of withdrawal, it is clear that Obama became the possible candidate of the Democratic Party. This leads to new calculations inside the US and outside it due to his tendencies concerning foreign policy and the US occupation of Iraq and the imperial provocative method represented by Bush’s administration.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Battles, Civil Disobedience and Arab Mediation

The most important developments on the Lebanese arena are the following:
- 1. The arrival of the Arab ministerial committee is expected under the chairmanship of Qatar after a stormy meeting for the Arab foreign ministers, during which Saudi Arabia tried to push the Arab league to adopt an anti-Hezbollah stand in its final statement. This led to a confrontation with Syria inside the meeting. The Arab league secretary general announced that the committee will meet the loyalists and the opposition.
- 2. After the pledge of Walid Jumblatt and Saad al-Hariri to hold a meeting for Al-Siniora’s government to cancel the two decisions concerning the airport and the network of communications, the available information said that Al-Siniora denied last night his determination to take any step before the arrival of the Arab committee. Analysts linked this retreat to American and Saudi promises to al-Siniora through the declaration of the return of the destroyer Cole. The US Charge de Affaires informed al-Siniora of this.
- 3. The scope of the battles between the opposition and the loyalists expanded after Walid Jumblatt’s militias abducted and killed elements form Hezbollah in Ale area. Sources in the opposition said the representative Akram Shuhaip personally sponsored the elimination and distorting the bodies. This pushed the opposition forces in the mountain to deter the militia of the Socialist progressive party and fought battles, in which the Democratic party participated under the chairmanship of minister Talal Arslan and the Syrian socialist nationalist party, and the unification trend which is chaired by former minister Weam Wahhab. After a long day of fighting, Jumblatt authorized Arslan to take care of handing the positions and weapons of his party to the Lebanese army, which deployed its units in Ale. Meanwhile, al-Shuf area witnessed tension and clashes between the two sides that escalated at night in al-Baruk Mountain.
- 4. Clashes erupted in the north in the last two days between the opposition and the loyalists. The future trend militia committed a massacre against 11 unarmed members of the Syrian socialist nationalist party whose head held Saad al-Hariri responsible for the crime.
- 5. The press quoted the sources of Nabih Berri as saying that the civil disobedience will continue until reaching a just and comprehensive political compromise. Some sources anticipated forming a government of technocrats after electing Michel Suleiman as president in case the two sides reach a declaration of principles.
- 6. The opposition sources said what happens in the country is a defensive reaction on a US-Israeli -Saudi coup, carried out by the loyalists through the two decisions that target the opposition. Leader of the army terminated the debate by calling the government to cancel the two decisions.
- 7. The reports said that Samir Geagea militias are put in a state of alert. Press sources said Geagea received warnings from the army which pushed him to reduce the appearance of his armed groups which took positions in a number of places in the north and in the mountain.
- 8. Political information from Washington and Paris said the discussion between the Western group and Sharm el-Sheikh group continues and focused on finding steps for supporting the loyalists. The Washington Post talked about a new US failure in Lebanon while Bush’s administration intends to issue a resolution at the Security Council which may not surpass the limits of supporting the endeavors of the Arab league according to analysts due to the new balances at the Security Council.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said in its editorial that nobody cares about the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers to discuss the crisis in Lebanon.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial that Lebanon enters the critical care room.
The Saudi paper al-Watan said in its editorial there is a need for communications among Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran and if communications do not succeed the alternative will be pressures on Syria and Iran because they have the keys to Hezbollah.
Los Angles Times said there are personalities which are difficult to forget like the distinguished military leader P.T.Collins.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said Arab conditions are deteriorating.

Satellite Satiations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said rebels tried to shake stability in Sudan.

Lebanese Press

Ad-Diyar said the mountain fell after Beirut and bloody battles erupted in Shuefat and the villages of Ale where the Druze forces which are supported by Hezbollah took control.
Al-Akhbar said Ale area fell in the hands of the opposition while tension dominates al-Shuf pointing out that Fouad al-Sinora announced that there will be no revoking of the decisions.
The paper added that the sources said that the return of the destroyer Cole off the Lebanese coasts pushed the issues to the point of confrontation again.
As-Safir said the arrival of the Arab ministerial committee coincides with the arrival of the US destroyer Cole which took position off the Lebanese coast.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Beirut restored its Arab identity and returned as a capital of resistance.
The NTV said the mountain entered the line of fire.
The NBN wondered if the ruling team’s project aims at assassinating the country.
The OTV said the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting ended in Cairo in the absence of Damascus and decided to send a committee to Beirut but the complex lies in the intransigent Saudi stand.
The LBC said Hezbollah did not care about Walid Junbalt’s retreat and his communication with the house speaker because it prepared a complete plan and attacked with the resistance’s weapons a number of axes in the mountain.

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.