An Event and a regional Trend

Bush’s Tour and the Confused and Impotent Israel

The US president George Bush starts today his tour in the area by visiting Israel to participate in the 60th anniversary of the foundation of this state on the land of Palestine. Arab and Western press analyzed this tour from different perspectives:
- 1. The visit coincides with a stormy political crisis in Israel in the light of the call to oust Olmert, who is still closely connected to the Americans since the defeat in 2006 war. The Israeli circles hold him responsible for the failure in this war, as it is clear in Winograd’s report. What is new is that Olmert is isolated inside his party Kadima, and inside the ruling coalition, especially after the scandals against him that the police investigations raised.
- 2. The US president will not find for himself a good meal in the Palestinian topic, because his partner Olmert was unable to reach the formula of the declaration of principles for signing with the Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who has to submit to Bush’s demand and sign the text that Bush may propose on him at any const in order to allow the president to offer an achievement before leaving the White House to compensate his failure in the area. Analysts said this may deprive the Palestinian authority of its influence in the West Bank.
- 3. The moderate axis faces a dilemma. The governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan face internal troubles and an impotence in the regional policy, as was manifested in the siege of Gaza and the meetings of the Arab League’s council concerning Lebanon and holding Damascus’s summit. This was described as a rebellion against the Saudi epoch in the Arab system.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

The Army’s Measures and the Majority’s Disappointment at Washington

Developments in Lebanon took a different destination, which indicates that the current crisis will continue, especially after Fouad al-Siniora’s clinging to the two decisions of his government on the airport and the resistance’s weapons. Meanwhile, the limits of the promised US help appeared:
- 1. The press information confirm that the US chargée d’affaires Michele Sassoon has asked the loyalists’ leaders and al-Siniora to refuse to revoke the two decisions which led to the crisis and refuse to hand the weapons in al-Shuf and changing revoking the two decisions to a card in the basket of talks of the Arab ministerial committee. Information said that Saudi Arabia advised the loyalists to show a firm stand. Political sources linked these provocative demands to the timing of the US president Bush’s arrival to the area, so solving the Lebanese crisis does not make his anticipated campaign against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran dim and does not affect his call for Sharm esh-Sheik states to a collective public alliance with Israel under the slogan of confronting extremism.
- 2. Bush entered the line of the Lebanese crisis yesterday in a televised interview with the BBC. This reflected the confusion of the US policy in Lebanon. Bush praised Fouad al-Siniora and asked the Lebanese army to protect Saad al Hariri, Walid Jumblatt and al-Siniora considering that the Destroyer Cole, which is coming for a training mission, is a message of solidarity with the loyalists. This embarrassed the sources which are close to the majority and pushed them to say that Washington has nothing to offer at this stage and that it practices the policy of giving up its Lebanese allies, who appear in Bush’s statements as US tools.
- 3. The operation for handing the weapons in the mountain stumbled due to Walid Jumblatt’s retreat from his commitments and authorizing the minister Talal Arslan, who warned of giving up the agreement. This pushed the Lebanese army to takes measures for preserving security and repressing violations, even if this requires to use force.
- 4. Lebanese opposition announced the continuity of its movement through the peaceful civil disobedience until achieving its demands and al-Sinora’s frank revoking of the two decisions and the return to the table of dialogue. The opposition insists that the priority is understanding on the two topics of the government and the elections law in accordance with the Arab initiative.
- 5. Hezbollah’s leadership stressed that the opposition’s measures are a defensive movement against the coup of al-Siniora’s government, which serves Israel’s interest through targeting resistance. The political aid of secretary general of Hezbollah said that resistance fights the battle of defending Lebanon and its weapons which are dedicated for this purpose.
- 6. The Saudi embassy is semi-closed after the departure of the ambassador al-Khuja to Cyprus, while the field events continue in the Beka, the north and the mountain:
a) The Future Trend militias are still blocking the international road in al-Beka and the thugs of the trend receive taxes to allow citizens to pass, while tension dominates a number of areas in Beka where the armed men of the loyalists refused to hand in their weapons.
b) The clashes continued in the north and stopped after reaching a political agreement, arranged by Tripoli’s personalities. The army is expected to control the security condition and disarm the fighters if the mediation succeeds.
c) In Sidon, the opposition warned the armed men of the Future militias, demanding handing their weapons.
d) In the mountain, Walid Jumblatt denied the existence of stores of heavy and medium weapons in Al-Shuf and Aley, while the sources of the army and the minister Talal Arslan confirmed the existence of twenty stores of weapons.
e) The opposition warned Samir Geagea’s militias from any events in the Christian areas. General Michel Aoun announced in a press conference that the opposition does not want to expand the spot of events, warning from any attempt to target the security of citizens and stressing that the opposition is in a defensive stand.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said Arab states turned their back to the conflict with the Zionist enemy.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial the Arab ministerial committee which will head for Lebanon will face a dangerous mission.
The Saudi paper al-Riyadh said in its editorial the new fires reached Sudan and what is strange is that the militia of justice and equality broke into Um Dorman and the borders of the capital al-Khartoum.
The Syrian daily Tichrin said we will witness tomorrow a new image of the US-International conspiracy against the Palestinian cause when Bush, Sarkozy, Merkel and Gordon Brown participate in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the foundation of Israel.
The Israeli paper Haaretz said the US refused to provide the Lebanese army with developed combat means due to an Israeli demand.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said the Lebanese opposition warned the authority from continuing the plan which will lead to the destruction of Lebanon.

Lebanese Press

As-Safir said that the climates that exist at the government’s headquarters make you think that Lebanon lives a democratic example which is rare in the world. Fouad al-Siniora was repeating in the last hours that resignation is easier for him than revoking the two decisions. Al-Akhbar quoted the house speaker as saying that the cabinet is expected to meet in the coming few hours to revoke its two decisions against the opposition.

Television Stations’ News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said the developments of events indicate that the gang of the authority will continue its adventure even if this leads to the destruction of the country.
The NTV said the Arab committee, David Welch and the destroyer Cole encouraged al-Siniora not to revoke his two decisions against the opposition.
The NBN wondered if there are sides that encourage al-Siniora to refuse to revoke his two decisions.
The OTV said the US destroyer Cole moved to the Mediterranean while the US chargée d’affaires ordered the authority to freeze all the mediations and be ready for escalation.
The LBC said the citizens in al-Shuf confront Hezbollah’s attempts to link the Bekaa to the southern suburb.

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.