Lebanese Press on Bush’s Middle East Tour

See Charles Smith’s important comments on Bush’s Arab-Israeli diplomacy at our Global Affairs group blog.

The USG Open Source Center translates excerpts from opinion pieces in the Lebanese press concerning Bush’s visit to the Middle East (he did not visit Beirut, where politics is so polarized that parliament has been unable to elect a new president. Some Lebanese spokesmen have blamed US interference for the deadlock). Even pro-American newspapers such as an-Nahar and al-Mustaqbal, associated with the March 14 movement, had nothing good to say about Bush or his visit.

Lebanese Press Reacts Negatively to Bush Tour, Says No Impact on Iran Influence
Lebanon — OSC Summary
Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lebanese papers published on the Internet from 11 to 14 January carried the following reactions to US President George Bush’s regional tour:

Beirut Al-Nahar (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (Independent, moderate, centrist, and Christian . . . On 11 January, Al-Nahar publishes a 700-word commentary by Mustafa al-Labbad titled “The Lame Duck Before Departure”

The commentary says: “The current visit by US President George Bush to the region differs from his previous limited visits in two main aspects: First, Bush’s personal position in the final year of his second term; and second, the different regional balances compared to what they were four years ago. It has become customary in US political terminology to describe the American President during the final year of his term as a ‘lame duck’ due to his reduced ability to make important decisions; and the current US President is coming to a region, which has changed compared to the period directly following the occupation of Iraq. This change has reflected on conditions in the region, which has changed from being on the receiving end of Bush’s conceptions of democracy and fighting terrorism, to an excellent means of strengthening the positions of his Administration in confronting its adversaries in the Senate and Congress, and supporting the chances of the Republican candidate in the presidential elections at the end of the year. According to official US statements, Bush’s visit aims to achieve two main objectives: First, to manifest the outcome of the Annapolis peace conference leading to facilitating a settlement between the Palestinians and Israelis; and second, to support regional stability and confirm Washington’s commitment to the security of its friends in the Gulf, in other words, to besiege Iran regionally.”

Al-Labbad adds: “Phrases such as ‘divine inspiration’ and ‘who ever is not with us is against us’ and the ‘Crusader war’ and ‘fascist Islamism’ have shaken the image of the US in the region and the world; hence, the successor of President Bush in the White House will have to exert much sincere effort to restore this image and eliminate the impact of the assaults against international law, international relations, and individual liberties in the US. In addition, Bush’s policies have weakened the chances of Republican candidates in the next presidential elections opposite any of the Democratic candidates such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, regardless of the identity of the Republican candidate.” The commentary concludes: “The ‘lame duck’ comes to the Middle East after a metamorphosis in the final year of his term. Hence, the visit of the president of the greatest nation in the world to the region will not result in anything new except for the dull commemorative photo shots and words void of any substance or luster. Most likely, it will be Bush’s final visit to the graveyard of his illusions, where his biggest project of the ‘New Middle East’ has been laid to rest.”

Beirut Al-Mustaqbal (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (Political daily, pro-late Rafiq al-Hariri . . . On 11 January, the paper carries a 600-word commentary by Radwan al-Sayyid titled “Bush’s Visit and the Region’s Problems”

Al-Sayyid writes: “President Bush came to the region, threatened Iran, and considered it a threat to world security. He also gave Syria the choice between isolation and opening up horizons. From their perspective, he did not listen enough to their concerns and interests. Hence, the endeavors to resolve the Palestinian issue will encounter difficulties, not only from the hard line Israelis, but also from the Palestinian and Arab opposition, and the Iranians. In addition, the Iranians will not cooperate much in the negotiation sessions with the Americans on Iraq. As for the Syrians, they will take their time in accepting the election of a new president in Lebanon; and, if they do, the formation of the government will remain the object of bickering, in anticipation of the outcome of Bush’s visit, and in anticipation of the position of the major Arabs following the friendly meeting at the Arab League.”

On 13 January, Al-Mustaqbal publishes an 800-word article by Michel Saba titled “Bush Baptizes Peace with War.”

The article says: “No country in the world has been more successful than the United States in making itself hated by nations, especially among the poor classes, the marginalized, and the liberals, and those constitute more than two-thirds of the world’s population.” It notes that “the American President George Bush, who is packing up and leaving his black era, wants to give his departure a special flavor and for his name to be recorded as the world’s savior through a number of gateways: either by establishing a Palestinian state welcomed by Arab countries, and which would print his photo on its currency; or by resettling the Palestinians, and then the Jews would place his name next to the prophets of the Old Testament; or he will get rid of Bin-Ladin, after which, the US and Europe could place his statue in independence squares. However, it does not seem that Bush’s ambitions are accompanied by practical steps to fulfill this desire. In order to achieve the establishment of a Palestinian state, he is requesting a halt to the settlements, which has enraged the Israeli right wing, hence prompting President Bush to please them through confirming the Judaism of Israel, and subsequently enraging the Arabs, before returning to say that this helps the establishment of a Palestinian state because confirming the Judaism of Israel requires a non-Jewish state to contain the Palestinians. The poor Arabs are unable to capture the points of extreme natural intelligence of the Americans.” The article concludes: “Bush wants to stand in the place of John the Baptist in the Jordan River to baptize the Arab and non-Arab regimes and purify them of all their hostile thoughts toward America. He wants to pour water on their heads not with plans open for peace and love, but with a grip clutching a cowboy gun. He wants to baptize peace with war because he is convinced that nations should be free by force, democratic by force, and advanced by force, because this is their fate. The concept of freedom only implies association with the US, and democracy only implies the acceptance of American policy, and advancement only implies adopting the American model.” It says that “Instead of standing in the place of John the Baptist, Bush will stand in the place of Herodus, the killer of John the Baptist.”

On 14 January, Khayrallah Khayrallah writes a 700-word commentary titled “Iranian and Syrian Messages . . . to Bush!”

Khayrallah says: “It seems that the objective of the Iranian harassment of US warships in the Strait of Hormuz is to remind President Bush the son, on the eve of his Middle East tour, that there is a regional superpower he cannot ignore in any way, nor can he ignore its interests. This power is called Iran. Iran’s influence extends from Afghanistan and beyond; and to Mauritania in Africa, and what is under Mauritania, where there are Lebanese Shiite communities; and passing through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and of course, the oil and gas-rich Gulf States. The Iranian message is very clear and indicates that the American President’s tour in the region is bound to fail as long as he ignores the growing regional power, which possesses militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine, of course in addition to its ability to penetrate Al-Qa’ida and take advantage of it for reasons that serve its regional project. This is the power, with which the US has to negotiate the future of the Middle East. Without it, there can be no stability in the region, and without it, a country such as Lebanon will not even be able to elect a president!”

The writer adds: “In addition, the Syrian regime cannot stand idly by as the US President moves toward the Middle East. The Syrian regime also has to deliver a message indicating that it in turn is capable of destabilization and that it is not entirely under the control of the Iranian regime. It wants to say that it has a margin for maneuver, even in Lebanon, where its influence depends on the Iranian tool known as Hizballah and the military and security machine of this militia, which at the end of the day is nothing more than a brigade in the IRGC. The Syrian regime wishes to tell the Americans that Lebanon is its hostage and that there will not be any stability in Lebanon if the US does not enter into direct negotiations with Damascus, which will secure the return of its tutelage over Lebanon and the Lebanese. Hence, the new appearance of the leader of the Syrian terrorist gang Shakir al-Absi was not a coincidence at this specific time, nor was the launch of two Katyusha rockets from somewhere in southern Lebanon against Israel. The objective is to send a clear message to the Americans, Europeans, and the international community that Resolution 1701 means nothing as long as the Syrian regime does not have a grip on security in Lebanon. The Syrian show of force was not confined to Lebanon, for suddenly the number of rockets launched from Gaza toward Israeli territories increased.”

Khayrallah notes: “What we are witnessing is a series of Iranian and Syrian messages directed to the Americans by reminding them of who controls the freedom of navigation in the waters of the Gulf, and specifically in the Strait of Hormuz, and who can create turmoil in Bahrain and strain conditions in Lebanon and prevent it from electing a new president, and create tension in the southern front and threaten the international forces. Through exercising the tug-of-war game with the US, do the Syrian and Iranian regimes hope to make it understand that they are capable of exercising the carrot and stick game with it as well? The Syrian and Iranian regimes are unable to achieve any successes on the regional level in the long term, but in anticipation of the exposure of their game, may God help both Lebanon and Palestine…” Al-Mustaqbal cartoon 14 January titled “Bush Addresses the Iranian People.” The cartoon shows US President George Bush with arms open wide saying “Come on . . . the Great Satan embraces the Axis of Evil!”

Beirut Al-Safir (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (Independent, leftist, espousing Arab nationalist views . . . On 12 January, Al-Safir publishes a 400-word commentary by Sati Nur-al-Din titled “Red Line”

The commentator says: “Until now, Lebanon has been fortunate that it is not at the top of the list of American priorities, or on the agenda of the current regional tour by US President George Bush, and perhaps the reason is because of the Arab initiative led by Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa. Had it not been for that initiative, Lebanon’s name would have been repeated every moment, with or without occasion, by President Bush. This preventive task of the Arab initiative is not hypothetical, but there is a belief that the Arabs unanimously agreed to exit Lebanon during this phase, and specifically during Bush’s tour, from the cycle of regional conflicts, and the Americans also agreed to grant the Arab solution another chance. The real motive of both sides was their conviction that the Lebanese balance of power, security and military, has started leaning in favor of Syria and its allies, which implies that it is neither in the interest of the US or the Arab and Lebanese majority to enter into confrontation with Damascus regarding Lebanon.” The commentary adds: “However, Bush’s silence and his Administration’s acceptance of the Arab initiative does not suggest that Washington has become wiser in dealing with the Lebanese crisis, nor does it refute the fact that Lebanon was most probably one of the most important topics of discussion between the US President and senior Israeli officials over the past 3-days.” It adds: “With respect to the US Administration, which has nothing else to be proud of in its campaign of reform and democracy in the Middle East except for the faltering Lebanese experience, Lebanon is a red line and should not be sacrificed on the altar of any Syrian-Israeli negotiations, for which it is not yet known whether the US President has already given the green light for the launch of these negotiations over the past few days. Perhaps, this is why Bush has remained silent so far and Lebanon has been saved from any additional clamor that could have disrupted the Arab initiative.”

The same issue also carries a 350-editorial by Talal Salman titled “Scandalous Visit . . .”

Salman says: “The Arabs are no longer Arabs…George Bush, who has almost become an Israeli on the land that was Palestine, and to which he specifically granted the identity of the Jewish state, was received with a warm embrace in Al-Al-Muqata’ah, where the leader of the revolution Yasir Arafat was assassinated with declared US-Israeli collusion. In Kuwait, Bush was received in his capacity as a liberator and the son of a liberator, while the Iraqis are fighting him in his capacity as the butcher of their homeland and unity of their lacerated political entity through his occupation. He will also be celebrated in the rest of the Arab Gulf states in his capacity as the protector of the imminent Iranian threat. As for Lebanon, which deprived him from entry to meet with his notable friends, his tour in the region and its heavy implications may have exacerbated its political crisis and made its already difficult solution, impossible.” Salman notes “It is a blessed visit and its success implies the fall of the great Arab regime.”

On 14 January, editor-in-chief Talal Salman writes a second 800-word editorial titled “A Gilded Arab Sword for the Hero of Arab Terror… in Lebanon!”

Salman writes: “All the Lebanese needed now was this insolent and poisoned incitement against their brethren, or against each other, launched by their distinguished guest US President George W. Bush from the heart of some Arab capitals, and in the presence of Arab rulers. Although George Bush’s record in inciting strife in Lebanon is rife, however, this continuing campaign of incitement during this official ceremony, and in a written address, and before a congregation of officials, and in the heart of an Arab capital, is unacceptable, regardless of the excuses and justifications.” Salman adds: “It is obvious that the exposed American incitement that was adopted by the Administration of George Bush ever since before the occupation of Iraq, and its escalated tone to cover up and justify the occupation, had reached a climax with the current tour in our region, with its declared Israeli title, and without any regard or consideration to its hosts.” He adds that “ever since the American President landed on occupied Palestinian territory to declare Israel’s right to transform it into a state for the Jews, he has been inciting the Arabs against each other, beginning with inciting the Palestinians against each other, and permitting the cancellation of the right of return. He then turned to the Lebanese and incited them against each other, and against Syria, and against the Palestinians (the right of return once again), before he moved to the Gulf to incite its people against its permanent neighbors, and included the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine in his venomous campaign.” Salman concludes: “If the declared objective of the tour of the US President – who is a lame duck at this electoral moment – is to incite the Arabs against their Iranian neighbor and depict it as the only Great Satan and to drag them to stand alongside Israel against terrorism, as if there is any danger that surpasses Israel’s terrorism in the region, then a rational Arab official such as Saudi Prince Sa’d al-Faysal has already responded appropriately to Bush, confirming that Iran will always remain a friend, partner, and neighbor to the countries of the Gulf and Arab Peninsula.”

Beirut Al-Diyar in Arabic (Independent daily, pro-Syria, political . . . On 11 January, Al-Diyar publishes a 2,000-word front page report titled “Bush Constitutionally Lays the Foundation for Israel’s Judaism; Washington Speaks of a Financial Solution for the Refugees”

The report says: “President Bush may have spoken about a Palestinian state, as he is the first US President to move toward the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, the question is: What Palestinian state and in return for what? The response also carries the Israeli threat against the region: 1. Bush declared that the identity of Israel is Jewish, and hence, he converges with both Olmert and the Israeli parties that the constitutional means to implant Israel in the region is the Jewish state. 2. This converges with what occurred in Iraq in terms of its partition into a Sunni state, a Shiite state, and a Kurdish state, and thus, the region, God forbid, is threatened with being transformed into sectarian states in order for the Jewish state to be the strongest in the Levant, which is divided into mini sectarian and confessional states that cancel the Arab identity in accordance with the American scheme for the Levant. Also, there may be a Palestinian state in the West Bank with a barrier facing it and an appendix in the closed Gaza Strip. 3. Bush spoke about financial compensation for the refugees, which implies the cancellation of the right of return or resettlement in the Arab countries, and hence, millions of Palestinians in the Diaspora will be deprived of their homeland, and Bush wants the Arab countries to guarantee the prevention of Palestinians from crossing their territories, through agreements that are under preparation. 4. Bush declared guaranteeing the security of a nuclear armed Israel, in addition to all forms of advanced weapons. Meanwhile, he did not mention anything about guaranteeing the security of the region, and yet, seeks an Arab war against Iran, and all that falls within the Israeli plot, in order for Israel to dominate the region.”

Also on 12 January, Nizar Abd-al-Qadir writes a 1,000-word analysis titled “Will Bush Achieve Dean Brown’s Prophecy of the Establishment of Two States?”

Al-Qadir says: “It seems that President Bush has decided to proceed in the footsteps of his predecessors, through focusing his attention on the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians, in an attempt, which seems to be serious, to achieve an agreement that allows for the establishment of two states in Palestine. What is strange is not the interest shown by President Bush during the final year of his presidency to push the peace process forward on the Palestinian track, but the campaign of skepticism, which has almost reached condemnation, that is being launched by certain Arab political and media sides. Certainly, Bush cannot be exonerated from the destructive outcome of the war he waged against Iraq, which is considered a flagrant violation of all principles of international law, in addition to the fact that its outcome can be categorized as a crime of oppression against the Iraqi people. However, this assessment of what occurred in Iraq, should by no means prevent welcoming Bush’s initiative to call for the Annapolis Conference and then conduct his first visit to the region as a peace messenger. However, it is insufficient for the US President to state that his visit was a success merely because he managed to push Olmert and Abbas to meet and discuss the vital issues in the peace process. The real criterion to evaluate the outcome of the visit is to achieve an actual breakthrough toward the establishment of a Palestinian state.” The analysis concludes: “Bush’s current mission is considered as the plank of salvation, on which he is supposed to hang in order to cover the dramatic results of the war he waged on Iraq. It is the right of the Arabs to persistently demand that he exerts his utmost effort to establish the Palestinian state he pledged to establish in order to compensate for his mistakes that caused the death of hundreds of thousands and displaced approximately 4 million Iraqis. George Bush can take advantage of the strong desire of the Arabs to achieve permanent peace with Israel, which was expressed through their participation in Annapolis, and also their adherence to the Arab peace initiative. He can also exploit the fact that Israel needs a comprehensive strategic alliance with the US, as it feels that it is facing threats and dangers, which it is unable to confront on its own (with the Iranian threat being the most significant). Only President Bush can exercise such firm leadership.”

On 14 January, Zayna al-Khuri writes a 250-word commentary titled “Boat on a Lake”

The writer says: “Before embarking on his Middle East tour, President George Bush announced that his declared objective is to put an end to the Iranian influence. Before arriving at his first stop in Jerusalem, the ‘provocative’ incident took place between Iranian boats and US warships in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians had responded to the visit in manner that implied that Iranian influence cannot be deterred verbally. The battle ground is the waters of the Gulf. Is America ready for the confrontation?” Khuri adds: “It is clear that Iran controls the Strait of Hormuz, and extends this influence from its distinct geographic location and advanced military capabilities,” noting that “Arab oil tankers are obliged to cross this tightly controlled passage.” The world has to deal realistically with this tangible reality and President’s Bush’s spectacular television statements are not sufficient to put an end to the Iranian influence. If the US is unable to strike Iran militarily for one thousand reasons, then it will have to confront it through other means, and a thoughtful dialogue with Iran save the region from much anxiety.”

Sada al-Balad cartoon 14 January titled “Bush Strongly Attacks Iran and Accuses it of Subjecting the Region’s Security to Danger and Describes it as the World’s Number One State Sponsoring Terrorism.” The cartoon shows President Bush’s tongue as a missile with the phrase “Middle East Security” written on it.

Beirut Al-Akhbar (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (political daily, espousing Arab nationalist views, pro-resistance, pro-Syria . . . On 11 January, Fida Aytani writes a 200-word commentary under the ‘Moment of the Day’ column saying:

“US President George Bush is proposing a mechanism to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees and to compensate them, in order to bring peace to Israel, the state of the Jews. It seems that the Palestinians have not yet developed sufficiently to establish their own state.” Aytani adds: “Compensation for the refugees, estimated at approximately 400,000 residing in Lebanon, and according to this proposal, they will receive financial compensation from their country. These refugees previously lived through a similar atmosphere in 1993, when there was talk about compensating the Palestinian family with tens of thousands of dollars and facilitating their migration to European and other western countries. Then, the mirage faded away, and the desert storms began to recur. Today, two options are being proposed to the Palestinians: Either subjugation, or selling the remainder of their dreams.” The commentary concludes: “From where Bush was speaking yesterday, anyone still dreaming of Palestine, and its capital Jerusalem, is anti-democracy and the free world, and part of the axis of evil. Then the Americans ask: Why do they hate us and how do we confront Al-Qa’ida?”

Beirut Al-Intiqad (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (Hizballah mouthpiece, weekly, political . . . On 11 January, Al-Intiqad carries a 1,000-word analysis by Abd-al-Husayn Shabib titled “Bush in the Region: The President’s Visit on the Threshold of his Exit from the White House.”

The analysis says: “Is the visit of the President of the United States of America to the Middle East region sufficient to achieve an effective shift in the course of Washington’s foreign policy, which is stumbling in all the files of the region, and is it sufficient to achieve accomplishments that minimize its successive losses? Does the visit imply a change in strategies that are usually drafted away from the media and are managed and implemented by persons other than those who appear on the television screens and utter written statements? These two questions are sufficient to comprehend the truth about this visit by George Bush to the region, which has been described as historic.” It notes that “if Bush seeks to end his term after 11-months at most, with his first visit to the enemy entity on a personal level, then the axis of his visit hinges on US interests: The security of Israel and oil and all that is linked to them from dangers resulting from the emergence of unforeseen threats that do not begin with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, nor do they end at the northern, or southern borders of Israeli terrorism.” The analysis adds: “The real objective of Bush’s presence alongside Ehud Olmert is Iran, and of course, its allies, who have started, according to American and Israeli decision makers, to pose an existential threat to Israel and US interests along the route extending from Tehran to Beirut and passing through Baghdad, Damascus, and Gaza, and all that is related to them in terms of areas of influence where Iranian power operates in the geography of the Middle East and its neighbors.” The analysis concludes: “Apart from the outcome of this visit, the remaining months of Bush’s term will keep the region in the circle of US and Israeli danger resulting from the constant search by Washington and Tel Aviv of how to tackle what they describe as Iran’s traditional and non-traditional threat.”

Also on 11 January, Mahmud Raya writes a 200-word commentary titled “If Only You Prevented Bush from Visiting Your Countries”

Raya writes: “It is painful to see George Bush standing on the land of Palestine announcing that the land is a Jewish state, and to see him received by those who have appointed themselves as leaders of the Palestinian people and saying: Oh great friend. It is as if a dagger has been thrust in the back when witnessing George Bush land in the Arab Peninsula, and welcomed by a reception of honorable leaders, when not a single Arab nation has not tasted the bitterness and pain, or witnessed attempts to impose the humiliation of defeat against it. How can those Arabs honor their killer? How can they glorify their enemy? It is one of the wonders of this era that Bush is a guest of the leaders of the Arab states, while he publicly and openly declares animosity for all that is Arab and Muslim.” Raya concludes saying: “Oh Arabs, if only you had prevented Bush from visiting your countries, if only you had demonstrated in protest against this visit, and if only you had shouted a resounding ‘No’ in his face and the faces of those who received him.”

On the same date, Muhammad Yunis writes a 300-word commentary titled “In Brief: The Timing of the Visit”

The commentator writes: “For what did US President George Bush come to the region, especially that he has started packing his bags to leave the White House? This is a legitimate question, especially that the declared objectives of this visit (to end the Arab-Israeli conflict and contain Iran’s influence) are the same objectives he has been unable to achieve throughout the past 7-years, besides the fact that the situation in the region was not this difficult for the US or Israel at the beginning of Bush’s first term, or even his second one. The military arm of the US, which is drowning in the quagmire of Iraq and Afghanistan, is almost paralyzed and prevents it from entering a new adventure, especially since the objective of the adventure can be called a regional superpower, not to mention the international European and Russian position especially following the issuance of the US intelligence report on Iran.” The commentary adds: “Then what are the real objectives of the visit? The majority of the expectations do not go beyond moral political support from Bush to Olmert before the issuance of the Winograd Commission report, with the aim of keeping him afloat internally and externally, especially after witnessing the tight security measures and reception organized by Olmert to receive his partner, or rather his instigator in contriving the second Lebanon war.” The writer asks “as usual, did Bush choose the wrong time to conduct this visit.”

Beirut The Daily Star (Internet Version-WWW) in English (independent paper; . . . On 14 January, the English language daily carries a 550-word editorial titled “Gulf Arabs Know better Than to Follow Bush’s Path to Confrontation with Iran.”

The editorial says: “Arab audiences still seem less worried today about the possibly nefarious aims of the Islamic Republic than they are about the US president’s proven track record of stirring up chaos and instability in the region. Indeed, fears that another Iraq-style calamity will occur on their doorstep have prompted several Gulf Arab leaders to reach out to their Iranian neighbors like never before in a bid to ease regional tensions. This development has ironically made Ahmadinejad the unlikely recipient of a series of rare warm gestures: He became the first Iranian president to be invited to a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the first to attend the Hajj in Saudi Arabia in an official capacity, and last May he became the first to go on a state visit to the United Arab Emirates.”

The editorial continues: “Nearly a year after Ahmadinejad’s historic visit to the UAE, Bush used the country as a stage from which to issue his Sunday plea to the people of the region to “confront this danger before it is too late.” What Bush fails to realize is that members of his audience were probably cringing at the tone of his most recent message – and perhaps even planning another round of diplomacy to try to smooth over any new tensions the American head of state may have stirred. Bush showed enormous insensitivity to the concerns of the people of this region by choosing the UAE as a venue to deliver his anti-Iran message. Bush is entitled to his warped opinions about Iran, but his message would have been better-suited for delivery to his deluded cronies in the White House than to his wiser allies in the Gulf. The average American might be fooled by Bush’s latest attempt to lump Al-Qa’ida, freedom-haters, HAMAS, Hizballah, the Taliban, Iraqi insurgents and Iran into the same lot (which until recently included France), but the people of this region have a much better understanding of these phenomenon and forces. They fortunately also have a better sense of the real root causes of the region’s challenges, as well as the required solutions. Thus, the Iranian people can rest easily knowing that Gulf Arab leaders will respond wisely to Bush’s latest attempt to stir up mischief.”

Beirut Sada al-Balad (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic (Political daily, independent . . . On 14 January, Sada al-Balad carries a 500-word editorial by Ali al-Amin titled “No President before Bush’s Departure!”

The editorial says: “Iranian officials are anticipating the outcome of US President George Bush’s visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today, because in their opinion, it is the most important station for Bush and will further clarify the American direction toward Iran.” The editorial adds: “The mutual escalation between Washington and Tehran will accompany the preparations of the IAEA report in March. This is an escalation whose implications are evident in Lebanon, where it has prevented the reaching of any settlement, whether on the level of electing a president or reaching agreement on a government of national unity. Tehran may perhaps wait until the election of a new president in order to reach an understanding on the presidential elections in Lebanon. Iran is not about to present any free cards to the Americans in Lebanon, that is, Iranian policy in Lebanon is not about to deviate from supporting the demands of the resistance by pressuring the opposition to relinquish its conditions.

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