International affairs

Editorial: Zero option on the Palestinian track
The report that was carried by Haaretz about the inclination of Netanyahu’s government to consecrate its control over the occupied territories of the West Bank in a legal way, but also the settlement blocs built since the Oslo accords –and which Israel pledged to dismantle more than once with American-European-Russian guarantees- came as a translation of the developments that were confirmed by American President Barack Obama’s speech about the so-called two state-solution.
President Obama considered that the settlement blocs in the West Bank conveyed the population growth and called for the consecration of the final outcome, i.e. the confiscation of the lands while perceiving the territories inhabited by the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank - and which are surrounded by the racial segregation wall despite the will of international justice - as being the geographic space of the promised Palestinian state project. Netanyahu is building alleged rights for the settlers who violated the land and is bluntly announcing there is no land to be exchanged in Israel. He thus toppled the Palestinian illusion that was planted by the Americans regarding the possible compensation of some confiscated areas in the occupied West Bank with parts of the Negev Desert which would be annexed to the Gaza Strip in a political patch up of the structure of the Palestinian mini-state.
In the meantime, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is still chasing the negotiations’’ illusion and trying to link the move toward the United Nations to request the recognition of the alleged state, to the determination to keep the possible negotiations with Netanyahu’s government open.

News analysis: A tyrannical and warring syrian opposition led by Al-Ar’our
The discussions of the Istanbul conference which was organized by the Muslim Brotherhood command in Syria at the end of last week, constituted a sample of the structure, nature, and political projects of the Syrian opposition movements that are diverging over all the issues but converging over hatred and hostility towards the Syrian command and toward the service of NATO and the European Zionist lobby. In the meantime, these opposition movements are safe in the Turkish haven, with known Qatari funding and hidden Saudi support.
The disputes, divisions and conflicts prevailing over the Syrian oppositionists domestically and abroad were described by the man who called for the Istanbul meeting, i.e. Haitham al-Maleh, as being a conflict over power. The difference between the proposals of President al-Assad and those of the Syrian oppositionists lies in the fact that the president is making proposals that resulted from a series of preparations and consultations and is placing them on the dialogue table to which he is calling all the oppositionists without any exception. However, the latter are only proposing headlines and have moved - for the most part - to the slogan of toppling the regime to meet the American-NATO-Israeli request to escalate the pressures on Syria and its command.
The beginning of the incidents might have contained spontaneous components, as field committees emerged without them being an extension of the active organizations in the context of the Syrian opposition, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and the Takifiri groups affiliated with their Sheikh Adnan al-Ar’our who is living in Saudi Arabia and is settled in his satellite channel with Saudi funding.
It is clear that the Takfiri powers headed by Ar’our are playing the most active role in the armed rebellion, and attracting the extremist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood with the knowledge of the organization’s command. This was shown by the Hama experience, although the imams of the city’s mosques cooperated with the efforts of the governor and warned Ar’our he must pull out his armed men and dismantle his checkpoints in the city’s neighborhoods. The predicament witnessed in Hama presented a special version of the tyranny and terrorism practiced by the authority of the Syrian opposition which is controlling the situation by use of arms, and is another version of what was seen in Daraa, Jisr al-Shughour and Baniyas among other cities.

News analysis: Do they want reform in Syria?
The Western political campaign against Syria is adopting reform as its slogan with the active participation of colonial states that enjoy a long history in supporting and embracing Israel and a present filled with hostility toward all the populations and especially the Arabs. The key question is related to the goals of this colonial alliance whose campaign against Syria went from one under the slogan of “changing the behavior” to that of “reform”. In the meantime, the facts indicate that Colin Powell’s conditions still constitute the content of the Western agenda in regard to the relations with Syria.
 1. The goal expressed by Colin Powell’s list embodies Syria’s submission to Western-Zionist hegemony over the region, despite the failure of the massive campaigns mobilized against Syria during the past years with the participation of Arab countries affiliated with American hegemony and political forces headed by the Lebanese March 14 Alliance under the command of Jeffrey Feltman. This falls in the context of the global cold war that is led by the United States to impose its control and restore its strategic dominance that was shaken following the failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.
 2. Reform is not the actual goal of the Americans, considering it is the last thing featured in the American strategies in the region. The biggest proof for that is the United States’ provision of a cover to the oppression of the popular revolution in Bahrain and its insistence on the most dictatorial Arab regimes through its close alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in order to ensure the continuation of Western colonial pillaging of the Arab oil and the sustainment of Israel’s control over the region.
 3. What the American and Western planners want is certainly not the Syrian state’s relinquishing of bureaucratic practices which were tackled by President Al-Assad more than once, or its fighting of corruption which has constituted a governmental priority during the last ten years. The West advised its agents in Syria not to clash with President Bashar al-Assad at the level of his strong points that are supported by the Syrian people and are represented by its resistance and liberation options.
 4. The move of the Baath party and its allies in the national front to a new phase in preparation for the competition and the rise of the young powers in the Syrian community, goes in line with a national program for change and reform which will render Syria much stronger, at a time when the oppositionists who are claiming to be unconnected to any foreign exploitation are facing a real test to prove the veracity of their claims.

Arab affairs

The Arab file

• This week, clashes were seen between the army and the Takfiri terrorist groups that carried out attacks against civilians and military elements and caused the fall of many martyrs and wounded. These terrorist gangs also attempted to generate sectarian strife in various Syrian cities - mainly in the city of Homs - but these attempts were thwarted by the Syrian people who expressed their insistence on national unity and their support of President Assad.
• It is worth mentioning that on Saturday, an attack targeted a train heading form Aleppo to Damascus, thus causing the death of a number of passengers and proving once again that these armed elements are not seeking reform and the improvement of the living conditions, are not civilians or peaceful and are attempting to undermine the country’s security under false pretexts.

• During this past week, the situation in Libya remained unchanged as NATO continued to bomb Tripoli and the attacks and retreats proceeded between the revolutionary forces and Colonel Muammar Kaddafi’s brigades. What was noticeable however was the talk about an American deal with the Colonel to allow his stay in the country without any political prerogatives. At this level, conflicting information surfaced in regard to this deal as some claimed that secret meetings were already held in the Tunisian island of Djerba between Kaddafi’s envoys and American diplomats to seal the deal, while others said that Kaddafi himself sent messages expressing his will to step down.
• It is worth mentioning that the position of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe who said that Kaddafi could remain in Libya after he steps down was condemned by the rebel forces, who rejected this proposal that was not even discussed with them in advance.

Asharq al-Awsat: Gaddafi might accept to stay in Libya without prerogative
Despite the public announcements made by the regime of Colonel Muammar Kaddafi, claiming that the latter did not intend to leave power, a Libyan official source told Asharq al-Awsat that the Colonel was ready sign a ceasefire agreement immediately. The Libyan official who was talking to Asharq al-Awsat from Tripoli added: “If NATO’s warplanes stop bombing the civilian and military positions, we will agree to sign a ceasefire or truce agreement.” The Libyan official continued: “The regime is engaged in a race against time, especially since the local banks are suffering from a serious lack in funds. We are also facing a major fuel shortage and the prices of oil have reached maximum levels. All this is having a significant impact on the ordinary citizens.”
The official assured: “Fighting should be stopped immediately and NATO must give us the opportunity to prepare ourselves to engage in real dialogue, to tackle all the issues.” It must be noted at this level that a transformation affected the Libyan position during the last few days, as some Libyan officials close to the regime in Tripoli are now saying that Kaddafi might accept to remain in Libya if he is provided with assurances that power will be transferred peacefully. In this respect, one of Kaddafi’s second son Sayf al-Islam’s assistants said to Asharq al-Awsat: “This might be a great idea since Kaddafi would be able to play a transitory role without holding any kind of constitutional or executive prerogatives. This proposal was already sent to a number of Western governments and they have answered positively. However, the rebels rejected that offer.”
The paper assured that this position came in light of the announcement made by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe regarding the fact that Kaddafi might be allowed to remain in Libya if he were to abandon power. The French proposal represents a new attempt to resolve the crisis in a political way. However, the Libyan provisional council rejected that idea, while Mohammad Jibril, in charge of foreign affairs inside the council, said that in the end, only the Libyan people had the right to make such decisions.

• A great state of rebellion is currently being witnessed within the Palestinian Fatah movement against the backdrop of President Mahmud Abbas’s insistence on the nomination of Doctor Salam Fayyad as the prime minister of the new government. At this level, Azzam al-Ahmad, who is the chief negotiator with Hamas within Fatah and a prominent official in the movement, voiced his disgruntlement against the current situation and against the president’s stand. Indeed, he told al-Hayat: “I believe we will find a way out from this deadlock, but
I must say that the obstacles facing us have nothing to do with external factors or pressures." He thus called on all the Palestinian factions not to allow the names to become more important than reconciliation, adding: “I do not agree with those saying that only Salam Fayyad is capable of providing the Palestinian authority with the needed funds, especially since this issue is bigger than Fayyad. The financial aid offered to the authority did not stop, even during the days
of President Yasser Arafat. Any kind of financial support we might receive is the product of the struggle of the Palestinian people. States are not built and do not function based on one person. We might have our own preferences but in the end, the issue is bigger than the name of this or that person.”
Al-Hayat then asked Al-Ahmad if president Abbas’ insistence on Fayyad was due to the extensive American and European pressures that were exerted on him, to which he said: “The US is only concerned about the political stand that will be adopted by the new government, regardless of the identity of the prime minister.
This means that even if Fayyad were to preside over this new Cabinet, it will not be protected from a possible Western blockade if such a will exists. The Americans are saying that they want a government that would respect the commitments made by the PLO, recognize Israel and renounce violence. However, this American position is illogical and unfair… It clearly aims at preventing Palestinian reconciliation. Moreover, President Abbas did take a strong stand when he said that he will only accept Fayyad’s candidacy, but he took this position after he heard voices in Hamas saying they did not oppose this candidacy. He even received foreign messages in that same context and this made him believe that Hamas might accept Salam Fayyad’s nomination as prime minister.”

• The developments in Egypt have been witnessing an acute escalation between the military council that is currently ruling the country and the revolutionary youth movements who are questioning the intentions of this council, its inclinations and its goals. The week started with the governmental reshuffle that affected a number of ministers in Issam Sharaf’s Cabinet, as the latter were accused of being loyal to Mubarak’s regime. However, the main objections of the revolutionary youth revolved around three figures in particular, who were very powerful and influential under Mubarak’s rule, i.e. the ministers of electricity, environment and international cooperation.
• These objections had caused the postponement of the performance of the oath before the military council for two days, but eventually the revolutionaries’ demands were not met and the three ministers remained in office. This caused the eruption of numerous clashes on Friday, as the demonstrations that were staged without the participation of the Muslim Brotherhood and were very crowded, witnessed in the evening violent clashes between the army and the revolutionary youth, leading to the injuring of dozens and an exchange of accusations between the military council and the April 6 Movement over which was responsible for these clashes.
• These incidents confirmed the weakness of Prime Minister Issam Sharaf, as it became clear that the country was being managed by the generals of the military council, without any regard for the other state institutions and the legitimate demands of the revolutionaries.

Lebanese affairs

Israel, the resistance and dialogue
The anniversary of the July war constituted an opportunity for the escalation of the Israeli actions under the headline of preparing for the next war. The last among these preparations was seen a few days ago with the announcement of training conducted by the Israeli army units over new combat methods, simulating the ones that were adopted by the resistance during the war and with which it was able to defeat the Israeli army on Lebanese soil.
The Israeli military command thus implemented Pentagon’s recommendation to study and learn from Hezbollah’s military experience, a recommendation which was distributed by Washington to all the armies of NATO and especially the Israeli side a few months following the end of the war.
While this transformation marked the recognition of the superiority of the Lebanese resistance in defending the country alongside the army and the people, this should logically settle any controversy in Lebanon over the defense strategy and ought to prompt a serious study into the ways to develop this system which has proven its efficiency.
Some Lebanese sides are still turning their backs to these facts, but worst of all refusing to go back to dialogue and continuing to present conditions. In the meantime, the resistance’s command - which all the developments since August 14 2006 confirmed the rightfulness of its decisions and the size of its historic accomplishment - confirmed via Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that it was open to any national dialogue, expressed concern over national unity and partnership and its insistence on keeping the dialogue channels open between all the Lebanese.

The Lebanese file

• Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah assured that his party "will come out prouder and stronger from the international tribunal conspiracy, the way it came out from the July war with which they wanted to crush it." In a speech he delivered on Tuesday afternoon during a graduation ceremony organized by the Martyr Association, he wondered: "One hundred indictments will not be able to change anything. And as you placed high hopes on the July War, your meager hopes on the new conspiracy that is dubbed “the international tribunal” will be in vain."
Sayyed Nasrallah supported President Michel Suleiman’s call for dialogue, stressing: "Hezbollah supports any national dialogue and any convergence between the Lebanese, regardless of the issues at hand and the agenda." In response to those saying that Hezbollah was not serious about dialogue because it did not present its defense strategy, Sayyed Nasrallah said: "The first to speak about and present a defense strategy was Hezbollah. These people are forgetting what actually happened and after a few days we implemented the defense strategy we proposed during the July war when victory was achieved."
• What was noticeable this week was the dinner hosted by President Michel Suleiman in the presence of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and head of the Change and Reform Bloc General Michel Aoun. From the March 14 team, only former President Amin Gemayel was present in the total absence of all the other poles of the new opposition. Indeed, head of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea chose to spend his vacation on the French Riviera on a yacht offered to him by Saad al-Hariri. This marked a great discrepancy between the relationship which was enjoyed by the Lebanese Forces with former Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir and the relationship it currently enjoys with Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi who attended the dinner party. This divergence is due to the fact that the position of the current Patriarch is moderate, as he is establishing common grounds between all the Lebanese Christians, unlike his predecessor who was clearly pro-March 14.
• The work of the new Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati has been launched, while the most awaited event is represented by the administrative appointments that are taking time due to the great vacuum within the state institutions and the fact that the government is seeking the appointment of the right people in the right places, far away from any retaliation. What was noticeable at this level was the statement delivered by Interior Minister Marwan Sharbel who said that Colonel Wissam al-Hassan, the head of the Information Branch will be removed from his position since he previously played a political role and supported a Lebanese team against another.
• Deputy Walid Jumblatt, the head of the National Struggle Front, visited Moscow this week, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a number of other officials, and issued fiery positions in regard to the ongoing developments in Syria. His tone revealed a change in his position, especially since upon his return to the country, he visited former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri after a long period of coldness

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