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Egypt's presidential palace is vacant

The first round of the Egyptian elections gave the impression that the regime is highly nervous because of the apparent confusion within its own ranks, says the Lebanese daily Assaffir.

The first round of legislative elections in Egypt last Sunday did not provide proof of the regime's power and stability, nor of the degree of its popularity. In fact, these elections were additional evidence of the ruling regime's frailty, observed Satea Noureddin in an article for the Lebanese daily Assafir.

More than anything, the first round gave the impression that the regime is highly nervous because of the apparent confusion within its own ranks.

Before heading to the polls, the general public opinion was that the ruling regime's institutions had lost its power and prestige due to its refusal to accommodate citizens' basic demands. The popular perception was that the regime saw the elections as an opportunity to reshuffle its ranks.

The first round proved that the regime doesn't tolerate competitors or even partners. Dealing with the Islamic Brotherhood was close to a political disaster that can only be contained by the fact that the Brotherhood itself is in a stage of remission following a poor political performance in recent times.

The regime will be acutely affected by this major lapse, as it revealed the narrow-mindedness that could only be explained by the fact that the presidential palace is currently vacant.


The downfall of the US information system

It is only when states fall that their safes are opened and their secrets divulged, wrote columnist Abdul Rahman al Rashed in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

But this is a special case; the dirty laundry of the US empire is being washed in public and no one can fathom how this powerful government has failed to prevent such an incident.

"Don't tell us it is democracy or freedom of publication. Don't fall for the pretext that the world is a small village that can hold no more secrets. All such excuses can be acceptable but not in matters of national security." Movies and newspapers had been confiscated in the past for a lot less, all in the name of national security.

How could the US fail to contain such a crisis? The State Department agreed on an emergency plan to deal with the repercussions and to contact the affected governments. They had no means to control Wikileak's disregard for state issues.

What followed was the effective collapse of the information system of a great nation. The world has seen precedents with the fall of the Shah's regime in Iran, the collapse of the regime in East Germany and Saddam Hussein's downfall in Iraq.

What is most interesting is that Wikileaks has managed more than once to freely rob a standing system. The result will be that US diplomats will be listening to very little in the future. The age of candid conversation is gone.


Saudi-Syrian role in Lebanon is over-hyped

In an article for the Lebanese daily Annahar, the columnist Ali Hamade observed that the role and expectations of the Saudi-Syrian communications are being exaggerated.

Communications between Riyadh and Damascus about a solution for the indictment "dilemma" in Lebanon are a mere exchanges of ideas; they cannot be deemed as state commitments in this highly complex case.

The complexity is compounded by the fact that Syria is an essential part of the problem and a primary suspect in the assassination of former prime minister Rafic Hariri, regardless of Saad Hariri's political acquittal of Damascus last July.

It is a mistake to put so much expectations on the Saudi-Syrian communications as the indictment will not be issued any later than the date set by the prosecutor general Daniel Bellemare. Since it is possible that the indictment will name members of Hizbollah, it is important to make the distinction between the group that stands accused and the party as a whole.

The prime minister Saad Hariri could try to make the distinction in a bid to safeguard civil peace.

Another possibility is that the indictment would name Syrian officials, that would consequently implicate the Syrian command. "However, our true hope is that it would not name any Lebanese or Syrians."


Cable traffic of the US envoy to Pakistan

The former US ambassador to Pakistan, Ann Patterson, in one of her cables to Washington, mentioned that Islamabad would increase its support to extremist groups in Kashmir and Afghanistan if Washington continued to improve relations with India.

In May 2009, Ms Patterson communicated that financial and military incentives to Pakistan wouldn't succeed in convincing the state to relinquish support for extremists, as it viewed this support as an important part of national policy towards India.

"This is an example of the communications that the ambassador used to have with Washington as revealed by WikiLeaks documents," wrote the columnist Mazen Hammad in the Qatari daily Al Watan.

The US ambassador at the time expressed worry due to the discovery of a large amount of highly enriched uranium near an old Pakistani nuclear reactor. At the same time, the Pakistanis were stalling to implement an agreement with Washington to get rid of the uranium. They did so out of fear that public opinion in the country would interpret Washington's assistance in this respect as US control over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

These documents show a complex relationship: sometimes cooperative, sometimes confrontational.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem

Published: December 3, 2010 04:00 AM

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