The empire rejects partnership

The American coup which toppled the content of the Syrian-Saudi understanding to contain the Lebanese crisis constituted an event carrying numerous meanings on the international and regional levels and especially at the level of Obama’s administration’s strategy in the region and its vision for the regional and European roles in the Middle East.

Firstly: the insistence of the White House on keeping the international tribunal card stems from two critical priorities. On one hand the administration believes that this card is the last pressure tool it has in the negotiations it is trying to launch with Iran and Syria over the future of its interests in Iraq. On the other hand, the American attention is focused on Israel’s protection whenever a file is raised in regard to Hezbollah, which is the resistance movement that is placed in Tel Aviv at the top of the list of strategic threats. the American and Israeli circles bluntly stated in this context that the tribunal was the only tool that could be relied on to confuse Hezbollah and prevent it from moving to the phase of the attack following the rise of its strategic strength.

Secondly: Through its behavior toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and for the third time in a row, Obama’s administration confirmed the United States’ determination to prevent Saudi Arabia from playing any regional role, as well as the American insistence on directly negotiating with the resistance and independent states in the region due to fears of seeing progress affecting Syrian-Saudi relations and cooperation between Iran, Syria, Turkey and the Kingdom, as this could become the nucleus of a regional system that excludes Israel.

Sarkozy entered the White House a few days ago with numerous concerns in regard to the American determination to exploit the tribunal in Lebanon, an exploitation which could directly affect European and French security and the status of the UNIFIL troops. He was hoping that the US would support the Syrian-Saudi effort but came out disappointed and seeking words with which he could adapt to the American will. The empire during Obama’s term is saying to its regional allies that they are prevented from playing any roles and that Washington is the only decision-maker. It is also saying to Europe that its presence in the Middle East is affiliated with the American role and not its partner. So will those concerned learn the lessons and redo their calculations?

Arab affairs

The post Sudanese secession stage

The referendum over the Sudanese South’s secession raised a storm of political repercussions in many states of the African continent whose social fabric features a wide and intertwining quantity of racial, tribal, ethnical and religious complications. As for the consecutive governments in these states, they often failed to establish the foundations that would secure national merger and integration for the population in the context of the project of a modern state based on developmental programs and social justice. As for the tribal and partisan sensitivities, they point to the size of the economic and social crisis and the discrepancies affecting the distribution of the wealth. It also reveals the size of the foreign interferences which mainly fall in the context of an American plan to dominate the resources, liquidate the remaining French and British influence in Africa and stand up against the expansion of the Chinese influence.

As for the new South Sudan state, all the American reports and comments describe it as being a failed or paralyzed state that is drowning in problems, in order to get it to succumb to American and Israeli hegemony under the headline of assistance and rehabilitation. This means that Sudan with its two parts will be the arena of ongoing turmoil following secession and this, in the American dictionary, constitutes the right opportunity to impose its control and revive the colonial pillaging of the resources and the markets.

News analysis

The Tunisian uprising and the road toward change

The events witnessed in Tunisia seized the attention of the Arab public opinion. All of a sudden, the reports regarding the ongoing popular uprising became the main headline of the media outlets from the Ocean to the Gulf, while the rapid political consequences of the popular action which was able to create great shock at the level of the political regime, which was described until yesterday as being strong and supported by the Western states, especially the United States, France and Italy, became clear

Firstly: The events started with a spontaneous and angry uprising which concealed the extent of the social crisis in the country, as well as the social discrepancies and the acute poverty imposed by the dominating neo-liberalism over economic and social life in the Arab countries.

Secondly: While there is no proof for the existence of a plan behind what happened, the parties and radical popular forces were moving from behind the street whose anger was detonated by the accumulation of poverty and social and political problems. The people thus tore down the walls of fear, frustration and despair and toppled the illusion of the impossibility of change.

Thirdly: The popular political forces were able to proceed alongside the uprising through the expansion of their deployment with organized initiatives in the Tunisian capital and provinces, while the renewal of the demonstrations despite the violent oppression of the regime constituted a motive for political mobilization which forced the authority to retreat, starting with the pledges of President Ben Ali two days before his departure from the country and ending with the army’s pullout from the streets to avoid clashes with the angry crowds and to maintain the structure of the existing system.

Fourthly: The events proved that the expansion of the base of popular and political participation in the authority through democratic elections and social justice is the revolutionary democratic content of the ambitions of the Arab people, at a time when Western hegemony in the region is based on the sponsorship and support of oppressive and tyrannical regimes.

Fifthly: Sayings which prevailed over the Arab populations for decades regarding the impossibility of seeing a popular action impacting the course of events and the fates of regimes that are based on exploitation, oppression and affiliation with new and old colonialism were all toppled. Popular will is capable of imposing political change and of opening new paths. This is the main lesson learned from Tunisia and is what is frightening several Arab regimes that are concerned about the threat of contamination.

Sixthly: Modern communication means and the Internet in particular played a crucial role in leading the events and the escalation of popular uprising. The use of these means is mastered by the young elite despite the local and international monitoring and oppression measures imposed under the pretext of the fight against terrorism.

Seventhly: The revolutionary democracy recipe with its political and social contents is a national product and the outcome of a popular awareness vis-à-vis the corrupt character of the recipe of American and Western democracy, whose fakeness was exposed before the people of the region since the occupation of Iraq.

Al-Hariri moves to the opposition?

The attention in Lebanon is shifted toward the post Cabinet resignation stage, as the selection of a new prime minster who will be assigned to form the government will be the main topic during the next few days.

In the context of the positions, possibilities and influential elements at the level of the events, several signs can be detected:

Firstly: The well crafted resignation of the opposition ministers and Minister of State Adnan Sayyed Hussein, constituted a surprising blow to both the American administration and the March 14 forces, especially since it coincided with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s meeting with American President Barack Obama who lost his temper while expressing his anger and opposed a legal and constitutional measure which is at the heart of the democratic practices promoted by the American propaganda. Obama also accused Hezbollah of being afraid, alluding to the prior knowledge of the content of the international tribunal’s indictment, thus unintentionally confirming the conclusion reached by many analysts in regard to the extent of American hegemony over the tribunal and its apparatuses and the use of the indictment as a tool by Obama’s administration to contain Hezbollah’s strength in the face of Israel.

Secondly: The Lebanese opposition defined the context of the next stage by calling for the formation of the government capable of protecting the country from the American interference - through the tribunal. Many regional and domestic calculations and equations will govern the process but what is certain is that the group of deputies which includes seventeen members in parliament and which announced during the past few months its move toward the center –namely deputy Walid Jumblatt and his parliamentary bloc - has become the decisive factor in settling the direction of the consultations and the formation process.

Thirdly: It turned out that the prime minister of the resigned government Saad al-Hariri is insisting on the tribunal while relying on the American support. In the meantime, many sources close to him leaked information about his preparations to move to the opposition and about calls he has made to political and media figures close to him in preparation for a new phase in which he will be outside the rule.

Al-Hariri’s exit could be - according to some Lebanese sources - coordinated with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which might maintain a key role by agreeing with Syria over the alternative figure who will replace him.

The Arab file

The most prominent headlines featured in the Arab press this week tackled Israel’s ongoing settlement expansion activities, its destruction of the Palestinian Shepherd hotel in Jerusalem and its ongoing attacks against the Palestinian people while threatening to launch war on Gaza.

The papers also addressed the referendum over South Sudan’s secession by conveying President Barack Obama’s intention to launch the process of lifting Sudan off the black list in case the Sudanese government were to recognize the outcome of the referendum. In the meantime, the threat of seeing the secession infection reaching Yemen emerged following the visit of American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

From Abu Dhabi, Secretary Clinton accused Tehran of rolling the war drums in the Middle East to shift the attention away from its nuclear ambitions, at a time when Iran uncovered an Israeli espionage network which was behind the assassination of a nuclear scientist. Regarding the situation in Lebanon, Clinton said: “I am very concerned about the attempts to undermine stability in the country”, after the American support of the international tribunal toppled the Syrian-Saudi efforts and led to the resignation of one third of the Lebanese government’s ministers.

On the other hand, news from Tunisia turned into a major headline in most Arab papers with the rise of the protests and the disturbances that claimed the lives of many people and prompted by the high prices, unemployment and the demands to isolate president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali who was forced to leave the country. The papers also shed light on the opening of a new page in Kuwaiti-Iraqi relations, inaugurated by the visit of the Kuwaiti prime minister to Baghdad and his meeting with his Iraqi counterpart.

The Israeli file

The resignation of the Lebanese government earned a lot of attention in the Israeli papers issued this week, reflecting the fears of the Israeli government of seeing Hezbollah attacking Israel and completely gaining control over Lebanon. They also revealed the presence of internal confusion and divergences between the Israeli officials, as Lieberman considered it was necessary to prepare for any possible war with Lebanon and for confrontation with Hezbollah, because what was happening in Lebanon was not a Lebanese affair, rather a test for the international community.

Ehud Barack for his part considered that what was happening in Lebanon was a domestic affair and that Israel should stay out of it.

On the other hand, the Israeli papers issued this week tackled Iran’s arrest of a Mossad cell and its confiscation of equipment and weapons used by this group in the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist.

They also pointed to the Israeli air force’s bombing of targets in Gaza in response to the rockets launched on Israel, leading to the death of Islamic Jihad militant Mohammad al-Najjar.

Maariv newspaper carried a report saying that Tel Aviv, the Ben Gurion Airport and the air force bases will be the object of missile attacks by Hamas in case fighting is resumed.

Lebanese file

The Lebanese newspapers issued this week closely followed the developments on the Lebanese and international political arena following the resignation of the opposition ministers and minister Adnan al-Sayyed Hussein. The Lebanese government is now considered a resigned government after the failure of the Syrian-Saudi effort to resolve the crisis and in light of Prime Minister Al-Hariri’s rejection of the demands of the opposition to hold a Cabinet meeting.

At the level of the international reactions toward the toppling of the government, a statement issued by the White House following President Obama and Prime Minister Al-Hariri’s meeting assured that “the efforts of the opposition led by Hezbollah to topple the Lebanese government only confirms their fear and their determination to prevent the government from proceeding with its work to meet the ambitions of the entire Lebanese people.” In Paris, the Elysee Palace announced in its statement that president Nicolas Sarkozy contacted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by phone and tackled “the situation on the Lebanese arena following the recent developments inside the Lebanese government”. The statement added that the French president corroborated his support of the Lebanese authorities and institutions and hoped that the international consultations will help Lebanon overcome this political crisis. On the other hand, he praised the ongoing dialogue between France and Syria on the highest levels, pointing to the last step recently seen in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s visit to France on December 9.

What was noted on Friday was the hearing held in The Hague to listen to former General Security Chief Jamil al-Sayyed who appeared before Pretrial Judge Daniel Fransen in order to demand the exposure of the secret documents related to the false witnesses who presented testimonies that had led to his imprisonment along with three other Lebanese officers. During his intervention, General Al-Sayyed accused Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare of having wasted time on purpose and of having attempted to intentionally conceal information in order to protect these false witnesses. It is expected that Fransen will announce his final verdict within the next few days.

At the end of the week, Lebanese media outlets shed light on the reports related to Maronite Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir’s resignation, reports which were denied by officials in the patriarchate who said they did not comment on media reports. However, the major surprise was seen on Sunday when Minister of Labor Boutros Harb announced from Bkerki that the patriarch had indeed presented his resignation to the Vatican and that the latter was currently considering it.

The American file

With the beginning of the referendum over the fate of South Sudan, the American papers allocated a lot of space to the coverage of the referendum and the reports conveying the enthusiastic climate prevailing during this historical day for the Southerners. They considered that despite the border clashes, the voting was proceeding peacefully. In the meantime, the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords constituted the most prominent event and one of the most serious shootings in the United States.

Regarding American Vice President Joseph Biden’s visit to Afghanistan, the American papers shed light on the announcement he made from Kabul, saying that the United States will remain in Afghanistan after the set date in 2014 if the Afghan government were to make a request in that regard.

The American papers also addressed the Lebanese governmental crisis following the pull out of the opposition ministers from the coalition government led by the leader of the Future Movement Saad al-Hariri, in protest against the international tribunal formed to investigate the assassination of Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005. Most reports and editorials focused on the repercussions of the crisis which might trigger civil war in a small country composed of multiple groups.

In their tackling of this event, they considered that Hezbollah was the victor and that its victory will be costly, threatening with the international pressures that might accompany the formation of a new government by the opposition.

The Tunisia events a message to Egypt

The American Christian Science Monitor considered that the Tunisian people’s sudden rise against the regime of President Ben Ali was a message to the Arab regimes whose survival relies on the oppression of the opposition, at the head of which is the Egyptian regime.

The newspaper added that what was currently happening in Tunisia could expand to many Arab countries, warning the Egyptian regime against continuing to oppress the peaceful political opposition which is given a very small margin, at a time when the Egyptian youth was facing many troubles in its attempts to find jobs.

It assured that the overwhelming revolution in Tunisia exceeded the protests against unemployment and the rise of prices, and constituted an angry rebellion against the corrupt and oppressive regime.

The British file

The collapse of the Lebanese coalition government was widely tackled by the British papers issued this week. The latter also shed light – in their reports and analyses- on fears of seeing the return of civil war to Lebanon following this collapse, saying that this was the worst event that could be faced by Lebanon ever since it exited the civil war which lasted fifteen years.

The collapse of the Lebanese government and the resignation of ten opposition ministers in addition to a minister of state close to the Lebanese president, ended months of political paralysis which affected the country due to the investigation undertaken by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the talk about the imminent issuance of an indictment said to be targeting a number of Hezbollah elements.

For its part, the Guardian wrote about the diplomatic tension between Egypt and the Vatican, after Cairo had summoned its ambassador to the Vatican in protest against the Pope’s calling on Egypt to deploy more efforts to protect the Copts. The Egyptian protests were echoed by Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyeb who said that the protection of the Christians was a domestic affair and that there was no need for foreign interference at that level, regardless of the pretexts.

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