An Event and a Regional Tend

The French Openness on Syria and the Readiness for the post-Bush Era

Arab correspondents in Paris said that electing the Lebanese president, Michel Suleiman, and Doha agreement, would lead to a new stage of French policy in the area. This was clear after the phone call that French president Sarkozy made with the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the fall of the justifications of the US ban, which prevented Paris from pursuing the method of openness after Jacques Chirac.
The coming Mediterranean summit will be the occasion for laying the foundation of a French trend that rebuilds relations with Syria and Iran in the light of the current developments in the Middle East and the accelerated preparations for the post-Bush era.
The Elysee circles said in the aftermath of the solution of the Lebanese crisis and the Syrian role in this respect that France will launch its partnerships with Syria. This will witness accelerating the channels of communications and coordination between Paris and Damascus. France may modify the staff of its foreign policy after the US presidential elections at the beginning of 2009. A number of experts in French affairs said that the foreign minister Bernard Kouchner was in the last period an American spokesperson, not a diplomat. This created tension with the circles of his ministry and the presidential circles. This obliged French diplomats and the president’s advisers to interfere a number of times to avoid the losses, which resulted from Kouchner’s political exaggerations in satisfying the US stand.

An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Lebanese press focused on the process of forming the new government, which officially starts today with the parliamentary consultations that the authorized prime minister holds. We can observe communication lines between the loyalists and the opposition, which work to accelerate the birth of the government and overcome the obstacles. The press focused on the following indicators:
 1. The opposition insisted on a multi-sectarian representation in accordance with what was declared by secretary general of Hizbullah in his recent speech. This should be followed by negotiating a new map for the political pluralism inside the sects and the loyalists and the opposition should choose names from all the Lebanese sects.
 2. Fouad al-Siniora started to generalize positive atmospheres concerning his readiness to politically cooperate with all the sides and open a new page in relations with the national liberation trend and Hizbullah.
 3. Discussions started on the distribution of the ministerial portfolios and the problem escalates among the loyalists due to the contradictory ministerial demands. There are heated discussions on the selection of the Future Trend and Jumblatt of a number of Christian ministers.
 4. On the popular level, people are asking now how much time will the formation of the government take ,wondering about the scope of success in overcoming the obstacles that will obstruct its formation in a general climate that suggests that nothing has changed despite the election of a new president.
 5. A number of observers said that the speech of the president on the occasion of taking the constitutional oath can be a ground for wording the ministerial statement. Discussing the points of dispute inside the new government concerning wording the possible understandings or agreements will necessarily lead to the adoption of what was included in the speech, especially concerning complicated issues like the international Tribunal, the relations with Syria and the resistance.
 6. Some fearful phenomena continue in the field. This raised the concern about violating the item of the truce in Doha agreement. This pushed the house speaker to warn from any violation of this truce.

Arab and International Press

The Emirate paper al-Khalij said the international conference on supporting Iraq, which was held in Stockholm, promises but does not fulfill its promises to the countries which suffer from occupation and disasters.
Al-Bayan said in its editorial Scot McClellan’s book on the Iraq war is a scandal to President Bush. The book said the president cheated his administration in order to market the war.
Tichrin daily said the Greater Middle East Initiative fell and the dreams of the neocons dissolve.
James Zogby said in an article that the fearful confusion in the Middle East is a result of the policy of President Bush who considers himself as a man who has a vision.
The Israeli paper Haaretz quoted an Israeli security source as saying that negotiations with Hizbullah on exchanging captives are fragile and complicated.

Satellite Stations’ News

The Syrian satellite station said that Lebanese parties and circles consider the authorization of al-Siniora to form the government as provocative.

Lebanese Press

Al-Akhbar said that Lebanon entered the stage of searching for mechanisms for forming the new government as quickly as possible while the opposition’s forces expressed reservation about the authorization of Fouad al-Siniora to form the government.
As-Safir said that the prince of Qatar visits Damascus today while the French president Sarkozy called president Bashar al-Assad and decided to delegate one of his advisers to Damascus.
The paper pointed out that the atmosphere of caution between the opposition and the loyalists dissipated.

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Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on 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.