Posted by Joshua on Sunday, January 13th, 2008
Arab League Mediation in Lebanon Fails by HUSSEIN DAKROUB, AP:
BEIRUT: AP, Lebanon – The head of the Arab League said Saturday that he was leaving Lebanon after failing to get the country’s feuding politicians to agree on a plan to elect a new president and end the deepening political crisis.
After four days of talks, Amr Moussa said the situation in Lebanon was still “serious” and promised to return to Beirut in the next few days to continue his discussions with members of the Western-backed government and pro-Syrian opposition.
“I don’t want to give a dose of optimism, nor to describe the situation as pessimistic,” said Moussa. “There is still hope as long as we are working.”
The Arab League secretary general arrived in Beirut on Wednesday to discuss ways of implementing a plan unanimously endorsed by Arab foreign ministers last week calling for the election of army commander Gen. Michel Suleiman as president, the formation of a national unity government and the adoption of a new election law.
Many hoped Syria’s willingness to back the statement would soften demands by the opposition , led by the Syrian-backed militant group Hezbollah , that it receive Cabinet veto power before allowing Suleiman to be elected.
However, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aligned with the opposition, postponed the presidential vote for a 12th time on Friday as the election deadlock entered its second month.
Saad Hariri, the leader of the parliamentary majority, said Saturday that Lebanon was going through “a very difficult and dangerous stage” and urged the opposition to help facilitate the presidential vote.
“The Arab initiative is very clear. What is important is to begin implementing it by electing a president because this election is the basis of the entire initiative,” legislator Saad Hariri said in an interview with Kuwait Television.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned Saturday that Arab countries would not be able to help Lebanon unless the country’s feuding factions reached a compromise to end the current crisis.
“What is left now is the Arab initiative, and if the (Lebanese) do not make it succeed, then I predict a dangerous situation for Lebanon, for (countries) surrounding Lebanon and for the region at large,” said Mubarak.
Tehran Times by By Hassan Hanizadeh, Jan., 13, Sunday, 2007:
Now it appears that the crisis over electing Suleiman as president is coming to an end, but the issue of the cabinet’s configuration still remains a major challenge facing all political groups in Lebanon.
The problem should be solved in such a way that the March 14 group will not be able to use its influence on the cabinet to prevent other Lebanese political groups from presenting national plans.
If a solution to the problem of the composition of the cabinet is not found before the presidential election, then Lebanon will definitely have no administration for a long time, and this is apparently what the March 14 group wants.
Endless wrangling about the cabinet’s makeup will only intensify the problem of the political vacuum in Lebanon. To solve the crisis, a cabinet must be formed that is not biased in favor of either side and is only concerned about the country’s national interests.
Syria blasts Bush's efforts in Middle East: Tehran Times
"It is perhaps too late to talk about peace in the last year of this U.S. administration. It will be preoccupied with elections,"" Assad was quoted as saying.
""Annapolis was a one-day event. It will all depend on follow-up efforts. We have to be optimistic, although cautious,"" Assad said in reference to the U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace conference in November.
The Syrian government daily Tishrin voiced an even stronger criticism of the president.
Bush is carrying ""rotten produce in his pocket to market in the region and [comes] with some chaotic ideas in mind to further support Israel, undermine the Arab forces of resistance, antagonize Arab-Iran relations and justify U.S.-Zionist [Israeli] hegemony,"" the paper said in an editorial, according to the Associated Press.
The paper said it was unlikely that Bush would ""achieve any tangible results"" on his trip that would ""whiten the U.S. Administration's black image."
'un des efforts diplomatiques les plus marquants de la présidence de Nicolas Sarkozy, à savoir son ouverture au régime syrien de Bachar Al-Assad afin de l'inciter à contribuer à un dénouement de la crise politique au Liban, s'est soldé par un échec.
DAMASCUS (AFP) — Hamas and other Syria-based Palestinian groups are to hold a conference later this month focused on Palestinian refugees and resistance against Israel, a spokesman said on Sunday.
"The national Palestinian conference will be held January 23-25 in Damascus under the banner of Palestinian rights and unity," conference spokesman Anwar Raja told AFP.
The PA is up in arms over the decision of Palestinian opposition groups to assemble for a conference in which they are expected to discuss changes to Palestinian governing bodies.
Rahman said that "every attempt to hurt the Palestinian leadership and its legitimacy encourages those who took power in Gaza to continue with their revolution.
"It is significant that the conference is in Damascus because it shows that Syria is supporting the revolution that Hamas carried out and that hurts the Palestinian cause and the pan-Arab cause," he said.
Abbas' aide also said that he rejects the Syrian claim that all Palestinians can hold conferences in the country. According to him, this is not true and it only adds to the injury which the act inflicts upon the Palestinian cause.
Rahman tried to quell Syrian anxiety and said that the "Palestinian Authority will not separately pursue an accord with Israel. Any accord will be carried out according to Arab strategy, which holds that Israel must withdraw from Arab territory that was conquered in 1967, which includes the Syrian Golan and Shebaa Farms. Thus, there is no reason for Syria's fears and there is no need for Syrian involvement in our internal affairs."
Abbas' confidante noted that there is opposition to every regime and that "Syria also has opposition. Nonetheless, we want a relationship based on mutual respect and noninvolvement in the internal matters of the other party."
US beats a Middle East policy retreat
By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani
"US policies in the region are either in retreat or undergoing re-examination," Ayman Abelaziz Salaama, international law professor at Cairo University, told Inter Press Service. "Washington's project for a new Middle East – launched in 2001 with the aim of redrawing the region to suit US interests – has failed." ….
Observer, a commentator on SC, writes of this article:
This article from Asia Times confirms that the era of US hegemony is at an end and the era of regional alliances with the big players — Iran, Turkey, and perhaps Israel — is beginning. In all of this the Sunni states of Jordan Egypt and the KSA are all losers. One card that the KSA is trying to hold is the Sunni insurgency in Iraq as they are trying to prepare them for the coming civil war, a proxy war with Iran. The rest of the GCC countries do not want anything to do with such a scenario as they have substantial Shia minorities. To achieve this the KSA will have to dissociate Syria from Iran and pay the price: this price will be
1. The head of Jumblat
2. The right hand of Hariri
3. The further empowerement of HA
4. The end of the tribunal
5. Continued military cooperation with Tehran as they help the Syrians in developing asymetric warfare capabilities
6. Huge investments in Syria
Observer adds in another comment:
3. Neither Syria nor Lebanon have even achieved the modicum of a nation state. In actuality, just a few years ago, one could argue that Syria was certainly moving towards becoming a failed state in that it had no power to protect its citizens, be a refereree among the protagonists, insure the minimum requirement for education and health. Only the departure from Lebanon has forced the regime to modernize back home. Otherwise the old guard was perfectly happy to remain in the status quo.
4. The tribunal is the sword of Damocles over the Syrian regime. It is left there hanging. It will be used only if and when the decision has been made collectively to replace the regime. It does not matter who killed Hariri. It is the blame for the killing that is important politically. So far, the Syrian administration has played its chess game very well indeed. Giving enough to reduce the pressure while holding on to all its cards. I would argue that it even enhanced its position and even played the Arab regimes against each other very well 5. The Arabs do not want a repetition of the Iraq debacle. Another disaster like this and all of their regimes will be severely weakened to say the least. They have come to realize that the US use of power has its limits. How to deal with the rise of Iran is the big question. Now that a US attack on Iran is out after the NIE publication, the conflict will evolve in two directions: an Israeli attack or subversion in both Iraq and Iran or perhaps both. In all of those situations, Iran is prepared. It has infiltrated all of the Shia communities on the shores of the Gulf and has built forward positions for its secret services in all of these countries. It is prepared to wage an asymetric war with the US and no one can afford to do anything during a recession. It will turn it into a worldwide depression.
6. The mission in Afghanistan is crucial to the success of NATO. If fracture about the nature of the mission continue to evolve, it is the future role of the US as the leader of the organisation that is at stake. The Europeans are waiting to see who occupies the White house next year. If it is a hawkish democrat or a republican do not expect much change, if it is a new generation of leaders, expect them to bail out of the mission.
7. Russia will continue to use the Iranian card on the one hand the energy transportation hubs on the other to foil the US in the region and to drive wedges between Europe and the US. If the Poles are pressured to accept the defence shield by the US, expect a Russian sale of very sofisticated weapon systems to Iran. Already the sale of the S-300 and the Tor-1 system has effectively allowed Iran to have a multilayered air defence system around its facilities.
8. The fact that the Arab League is now in the front on Lebanon means that both the US and to a lesser extent France are giving it lip service. The M14 have but themeselves to blame as they are slowly being abandoned. They accepted the initiative thinking that they can get their President and keep the majority in the goverment blocking HA and the opposition from consolidating their position with new elections and new electoral law. As I said before the devil is in the details and HA will not budge until and unless it has all of its demands met IN ADVANCE.
9. Syria has effectively returned in full force in Lebanon, notwithstanding what Michael Young says. It is back even better than when it had its tanks just as Britain would leave its colonies only to return with other means.
10. The news that the US used its airforce to bomb 40 insurgent strongholds simultaneously( over 10 minues) using B-1 and other aircraft just a few days after the confrontation in the strait of Hormuz is a signal to Iran about what the US can do with its high tech weapons. Expect in time an Iranian response about its asymetric capabilities.
Lebanon is a speck in all of this and Syria is comma.
By Thomas G. Donlan
The magazine Foreign Policy, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, delights in shaking up international bureaucrats and their political masters. It asks them each issue to stop and think, before they blurt and blunder again.
An article in the January-February issue challenges the blurting and blundering American presidential candidates from 12 perspectives (and we offer a 13th). The magazine asked a dozen of "the world's leading thinkers" each to propose one new U.S. policy or political gesture that would improve America's standing in the world.
Yet here, we summarize all the suggestions of what the new president should do, according to the magazine. Longer versions are available in Foreign Policy
magazine and on its Website, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/.
A Plateful of Resolution
— Open a diplomatic dialogue with Syria and end our threats of "regime change," because Syria has been blocking progress on many of the issues of importance in the Middle East. -Jessica T. Matthews, president, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
— Visit dozens of world capitals, ask for advice and listen seriously, without trying to prove American dominance.
-Newt Gingrich, former speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
— Travel to Tehran and reopen relations with Iran on the basis of respect for its desire for a "legitimate regional role."
-Dmitri Trenin, deputy director, Carnegie Moscow Center