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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Mar 03rd
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Hizbullah Cell in Egypt: A Race of Mediations and Trials
Hizbullah Cell in Egypt: A Race of Mediations and Trials PDF Print E-mail
Written by Naharnet, AFP, Economist, Agencies   
Saturday, 18 April 2009


Iran using Hezbollah to enter Egypt: FM

Hizbullah Cell in Egypt: A Race of Mediations and Trials

The Hizbullah cell case will be referred to the Egyptian state security court amid repots that Lebanese and Arab officials are making mediation efforts to resolve the crisis between Hizbullah and Cairo.

Pan-Arab daily al-Hayat said Saturday that the case will be referred to the state security court within days and that contacts are underway between Speaker Nabih Berri and Egyptian authorities to find a solution to the crisis.

Egyptian police have been searching for members of an alleged Hizbullah cell which Egypt says planned attacks in the country.

Egypt's public prosecutor announced last week that a security investigation had found that a cell of 49 members, headed by Lebanese Sami Shehab, had been planning "hostile operations" in Egypt at the behest of Hizbullah. Some 25 members of the cell have been arrested.

Asked about the results of his efforts, Berri said: "Things are positive. This does not mean that the problem is over. We will continue our efforts to see where they would lead us to."

Berri refused to give more details, saying "there are messages between me and the Egyptian officials and we hope for the best."

Haaretz newspaper also reported that secret reconciliation contacts are underway between Egypt and Hizbullah. It said Arab mediators are trying to cool down the crisis between the two sides.

Haaretz said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has made several demands to settle the issue, including an apology from Hizbullah for violating Egyptian sovereignty.

However, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hussam Zaki said Cairo will not accept political settlements in the Hizbullah cell case.

"Settlements are for political issues. This is a judicial and security issue," he stressed, adding that the public prosecutor has the authority in the case and is dealing with investigation results.

Meanwhile, head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, said in his first public appearance since the December-January Israeli offensive on the Palestinian enclave that the crisis between Egypt and Hizbullah should be solved as soon as possible.

He said during a mosque sermon on Friday that he is following up with "big interest and concern the crisis" between Egypt and Hizbullah. "We respect the stability, sovereignty and security of Arab countries because their security (stems) from our security."

"Resistance movements in Palestine, Lebanon and other Arab countries should be respected," he said. Haniyeh also hoped that "the Hizbullah-Egypt case would not affect continued support for the Palestinian people and the Gaza Strip in particular."

The top Hamas official in Gaza also called for solving the Hizbullah cell case as soon as possible through "diplomatic ways" and "turn the page."

Another leading member of the Islamist group Mahmoud Zahar also appeared in public on Friday for the first time since the Israeli offensive on Gaza.

Haniyeh and Zahar preached in different mosques in Gaza City.

Beirut, 18 Apr 09, 09:37



Hariri Says Egypt-Hizbullah Tension 'Delicate Matter'

MP Saad Hariri said Thursday tension between Hizbullah and Egypt was a "delicate matter" and reaffirmed Lebanon's full respect for the Arab country's sovereignty.

The strain in ties between the two sides must be "handled with caution and away from media meddling," Hariri said following talks with President Michel Suleiman in Baabda Palace.

Cairo last week announced it had arrested a Hizbullah cell on charges of plotting attacks in the country and has accused Iran of using the Shiite group to gain a foothold in Egypt.

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed that one of those arrested, a Lebanese named Sami Shihab, but stressed that his mission was solely to provide assistance to Palestinian militants in Gaza.

On the upcoming elections, he urged the political, military and security forces to "shoulder their responsibilities and do their utmost to maintain stability in the country."

He dismissed reports of division among the ranks of March 14 Forces insisting that "nothing will hinder the formation of the coalition's ticket in Tripoli." Most lists will be announced next week, he added.

Hariri said electoral campaign will intensify in 15 to 20 days adding that "pictures of candidates will be displayed across the country."

Beirut, 16 Apr 09, 22:00



Egypt Likely to Place Ban on Hizbullah
Egypt is considering banning Hizbullah cabinet ministers and members from entering its territory, the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper said Thursday.
It quoted a government source as saying that one way Egypt could "punish" Hizbullah is by tightening the noose on the group and its members.

"Egypt is concerned about the Lebanese people," he said. "But we can take measures such as banning Hizbullah cabinet ministers and members from entering Egypt."

Beirut, 16 Apr 09, 10:40



War of Words Between Iran, Egypt over Hizbullah

Iran dismissed on Wednesday Egyptian accusations against Hizbullah as an "old trick" aimed at influencing the Lebanese parliamentary elections, news agencies reported.

"Labels against... Hizbullah and (its chief Sayyed) Hassan Nasrallah are an old and frayed trick and will not achieve anything," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

Mottaki was reacting to Egypt's announcement that it had arrested a Hizbullah cell accused of plotting attacks in the country and accused Iran of using the Shiite group to gain a foothold in Egypt.

"Iran, and Iran's followers, want Egypt to become a maid of honor for the crowned Iranian queen when she enters the Middle East," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit told the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Tuesday.

Mottaki also accused Iran's arch-foe Israel and "hands from outside the region" of seeking to "create problems" in Lebanon's June 7 elections.

"The Zionist regime will not succeed in this political plot," he said.

Nasrallah said on Friday that one of the men arrested, a Lebanese named Sami Shehab, was a Hizbullah agent charged with transporting weapons to Palestinian militants in Gaza but he denied the cell planned to carry out attacks in Egypt.

Referring to Iran, Abul Gheit said that "I wish I could see their eyes and their faces when their lower lips drop in astonishment at what the... public prosecutor will include in his report."

"(Iran) used (Hizbullah) to gain a presence in Egypt and to say to Egyptians: we are here," he added.(AFP-Naharnet)

Beirut, 15 Apr 09, 14:24



Egypt Considers Charging Nasrallah and Qassem in Hizbullah Cell Case

The Egyptian prosecution is discussing the possibility of including Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem's names in the charges made against a Hizbullah cell accused of carrying out attacks inside Egypt.

Security officials in Egypt said several names came up during interrogation of 49 suspects who have been arrested over the past five months and accused of plotting attacks on Israelis in the Sinai on behalf of Hizbullah.

They said among the wanted men were 10 Lebanese and 3 Palestinians whose names came up in questioning.

Defense sources said the accused, including the original suspects' alleged ringleader, a Lebanese man identified as Sami Shehab, could face death penalty or life in jail if convicted of planning terrorist attacks inside Egypt.

Egyptian security forces were on Tuesday combing parts of central Sinai for the other alleged members of the cell, including a Hizbullah commander.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Geith promised "big surprises" when facts about the will be disclosed by Egypt's state prosecutor following completion of investigations.

Prime Minister Fouad Saniora discussed with Lebanon's ambassador to Egypt Khaled Ziadeh Cairo's accusations that Hizbullah was plotting attacks in Egypt.

Saniora asked Ziadeh to follow-up on the case of Shehab.

The prime minister also asked Egyptian ambassador Ahmed Badawi to give him the official information on Shehab's case.

Meanwhile, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood MPs said they supported the Egyptian government's stance against Hizbullah.

MP Mukhtar Qassem said during a parliamentary session on Tuesday that "the national security of Egypt is a red line, and no one must cross it."


Beirut, 15 Apr 09, 10:39



Egypt versus Hizbullah

They really don't like each other

Apr 16th 2009 | BEIRUT AND CAIRO

From The Economist print edition

Egypt accuses Lebanon’s Hizbullah of spying against it

IN A sign of a deepening rift between differently aligned camps across the Middle East, Egypt’s authorities claim to have busted a spy ring run by Hizbullah, Lebanon’s Shia party-cum-militia, on Egyptian soil. Whereas Egypt has long claimed to lead the region’s peacemakers, the Lebanese group is allied to a front which embraces Syria, Iran and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist party ruling the Gaza Strip, and espouses confrontation with Israel. Exposure of an alleged Hizbullah cell feeds the fears of many Sunni Arab governments, as well as many of Lebanon’s diverse people, that Shia Iran is using the group, which won prestige across the Middle East for parrying an assault by Israel in 2006, to extend its influence at their expense.

Egypt’s state prosecutor has charged 25 people, including Lebanese, Palestinians, Sudanese and Egyptians, with forming a cell to smuggle weapons across Egypt’s border with Gaza, to monitor shipping in the Suez Canal and to plot attacks against Egypt itself. Government-owned newspapers in Cairo say the cell, whose main operatives appear to have been rounded up in November, planned terrorist attacks on Egyptian resort hotels, targeting Israeli tourists with the aim of stoking general unrest and prompting a military coup. Other Egyptian press reports assert that a separate round of arrests in December netted four members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, disguised as Iraqi Shia refugees.

This blaze of Egyptian accusations underlines the frustration felt by the government of President Hosni Mubarak, which has borne withering opprobrium due to its refusal to open crossings into Gaza to relieve the besieged Palestinian territory. Egypt’s discomfort peaked during Israel’s 22-day assault on Hamas in Gaza earlier this year, when Hizbullah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, charged Mr Mubarak with complicity with the “Zionist regime” and dramatically called on Egyptian officers to save their country’s honour. Egypt has remained isolated in Arab public opinion as Mr Mubarak has subsequently cracked down on cross-border smuggling and struggled to strong-arm Hamas into sharing power with its secular rival, Fatah, by using the opening of the border as a lure.

Some of Egypt’s charges may be true. In a televised speech, Mr Nasrallah admitted that one of the arrested men was a party member engaged in logistical work to help “our Palestinian brothers”. But the Hizbullah leader, who has a reputation for frankness, said that no more than ten of the alleged plotters had any link to his party, and denied any intent to harm Egypt. “If aiding the Palestinians is a crime, then I am guilty and proud of it,” he said.

His deputy, Naim Qassem, said Hizbullah’s people had clear instructions not to take any action against Israelis in Egypt. He posed a rhetorical question. “How can Israel have the right to receive weapons and intelligence from all the world, while one small effort to lift the oppression of the Palestinians or supply basic necessities to keep their struggle going is condemned?”

This logic still appeals to many in the region. But just as Mr Nasrallah’s unsubtle call for Mr Mubarak’s overthrow annoyed even some of the Egyptian president’s foes at home, the revelation of Hizbullah intrigue raises questions about the group’s intentions. Though implicated in past acts of international terror, Hizbullah in recent years has declared itself concerned solely with Lebanese affairs, increasingly so as Lebanon’s general election due in June approaches. Its critics in Lebanon now have new cause to complain that the party risks enmeshing their country in regional squabbles they want no part of.

The Economist


April 14, 2009
Egypt Accuses Hezbollah of Plotting Attacks and Arms Smuggling to Gaza

CAIRO — Egypt released new details on Monday of what it said was a Hezbollah plot to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, to attack Israeli tourist sites in the Sinai Peninsula and to fire on ships in the Suez Canal. Officials said the police were hunting for 10 Lebanese suspects believed to be hiding in the mountainous terrain of central Sinai.

The case gained wide attention after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, acknowledged on Friday that he had sent an agent to Egypt to organize assistance for the Palestinians in their fight with Israel, and it quickly took on broader regional implications.

Hezbollah is a military, political and social organization in Lebanon with strong ties to Iran, a bloc in Lebanon’s Parliament and ministers in the cabinet.

The case has complicated faltering efforts to reconcile differences among Arab states over how to deal with Iran’s rising regional influence and the Palestinian problem. It also highlighted the growing anxiety among some Arab leaders, especially Washington’s traditional allies in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, over Western outreach to Iran and Hezbollah.

“I think the Egyptian leadership wants to remind the public and its other partners that there is something serious going on here,” said Gamal Abdel Gawad, head of the international relations section of the government-financed Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. “It wasn’t just a war of words. There was an attempt to destabilize Egypt.”

When Egypt announced late last week that it had uncovered the Hezbollah cell, the news was greeted skeptically in the region. Months ago Hezbollah’s chief effectively urged Egyptians to rise up against the government for not doing more to help Hamas as it battled Israel in Gaza. So the Egyptian announcement was widely perceived as payback.

“These accusations seem to be fabricated from beginning to end,” read an editorial on Thursday in Al Quds al Arabi, an Arabic-language, Palestinian-owned newspaper.

A day later, Mr. Nasrallah confirmed that Egyptian authorities had arrested a Hezbollah member, a man he called Sami Shihab. He denied that there had been any plans for attacks on Egyptian soil, but that did little to undermine Egypt’s main charges.

The Egyptian press went on the attack, labeling Mr. Nasrallah a “war criminal” and a “monkey” and calling for his arrest and prosecution. Mr. Nasrallah accused Egyptian authorities of being agents of Israel and the United States. “If aiding the Palestinians is a crime, then I am guilty and proud of it,” he said.

Egypt’s very public and caustic response to the case appeared similar to the reaction some Arab states had to statements in February by an influential former Iranian speaker of Parliament that Bahrain was historically part of Iran. Arab leaders jumped on the remark as evidence of Iran’s intentions in the region, and Iran apologized for it.

Iranian officials sharply attacked Egypt during the Gaza fighting for its refusal to open its borders with the beleaguered territory. Iran is a major supporter of Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.

With this case, Egypt offered a portrait of a conspiracy that it said should give pause to all Arab states, including Syria, which is aligned with Iran and also supports Hezbollah. Officials said Hezbollah had set up an office in Egypt as part of a unit called “the belt,” meaning it sought to coordinate activities in Arab states bordering Israel.

It is not clear when Egypt began making the arrests or how many arrests were made. Officials said only that 49 people had been “accused of participating.”

Some local news reports said that the first suspects were arrested in November, but that the interrogations did not begin until Saturday. On Monday officials said that six had been charged with spying and weapons possession. Montasser al-Zayyat, a lawyer who said he represented some of the accused, said 46 men had been arrested.

On Sunday, an Egyptian cabinet minister of state, Mofeed Shehab, said the Hezbollah agent whom Mr. Nasrallah had called Sami Shihab was actually Muhammad Youssef Mansour. He said Mr. Mansour had traveled to Egypt on two fake passports and had been organizing plans to recruit members, indoctrinate them and send them to Lebanon to train for “hostile operations” inside Egypt.

He said Hezbollah agents had been asked to conduct surveillance of police and military offices and checkpoints, schools and tourist sites, and to e-mail the information to Lebanon. He said they were also supposed to rent a place near the Suez Canal to monitor ship traffic “in preparing for targeting them.”

There were many other details, including charges that they had been storing “explosive belts” and had planned to buy a ship to ferry weapons into Egypt, for eventual shipment to Gaza, and to smuggle weapons there through tunnels.

Mr. Mansour, the man charged with spying on behalf of Hezbollah, acknowledged that he was working in Egypt, but insisted that he had been ordered not to carry out attacks there. A transcript of a portion of his interrogation, confirmed by his lawyer, was printed Monday in an independent daily newspaper, Al Masry al Youm.

“Hezbollah’s leadership issued strict orders to not target Israelis on Egyptian soil,” Mr. Mansour was quoted as saying.

But even a Hezbollah official saw this conflict as part of a broader struggle with the Egyptian leadership for regional support. “The Egyptians are trying to create a problem, to change the opinion of the Arabs who are now with the Lebanese resistance,” said Nawar al-Sahili, a Hezbollah member of the Lebanese Parliament. “We don’t want to have a problem with any Arab country. The Egyptian authorities are not giving the real facts.”

Ambush Kills Lebanese Soldiers

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Four Lebanese Army soldiers were killed in the hashish-growing eastern hinterlands on Monday when men fired a rocket-propelled grenade at their vehicle, apparently in an escalation of the army’s battles with drug dealers and criminals in that area.

The attack, which also wounded an army officer, took place in the Bekaa Valley, a poor agricultural area near the Syrian border.

The attack was believed to be revenge for an episode last month in which troops killed a drug baron, Ali Abbas Jaafar, and an aide after they escaped a checkpoint in a stolen car.

The area is a stronghold of Hezbollah, but it released a statement signaling its full support for the army. Members of the Jaafar clan released their own statement condemning the killings and declaring their readiness to help in the arrest of the criminals.

Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and Robert F. Worth from Beirut, Lebanon.


Tensions rise as Egypt widens Hizbollah crackdown
By Anna Fifield in Beirut
Published: April 14 2009 03:00 | Last updated: April 14 2009 03:00

Tensions between Egypt and Lebanon's Hizbollah group have escalated after the Shia movement admitted that one of its members had been smuggling weapons from Egypt to the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian authorities were yesterday chasing 10 Lebanese men, allegedly members of a Hizbollah cell, on the Sinai peninsula, which shares a border with the Gaza Strip. Egypt is cracking down on a group it claims was planning to attack Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists.

The government in Cairo said on Friday that 49 Egyptian, Palestinian and Lebanese men linked to Hizbollah had been arrested and charged with espionage and plotting to destabilise the country.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah in Lebanon, said accusations that his fighters were going to attack targets in Egypt were "baseless" and an attempt to "defame Hizbollah's pure and untarnished image". But he admitted that one of the 49 people arrested, a Lebanese named as Sami Shehab, was in Egypt on a "logistical mission" related to the Gaza Strip.

It was a rare admission from Hizbollah, ostensibly a Lebanon-based resistance movement, that it was working outside its borders to help Hamas, the Sunni militant group that controls the Gaza Strip.

"If aiding the Palestinians is a crime, then I am guilty and proud of it," Mr Nasrallah said in a speech televised by a Hizbollah-run network.

Hizbollah is backed by Iran and Syria, Egypt's regional rivals. All three criticised Cairo during Israel's attack on Gaza for not opening the border into the Palestinian territory.

"There are parties in the Arab world that oppose the resistance and are very close to their American and Israeli masters," Mr Nasrallah said, referring to the Arab countries that have not backed Hamas, the Arab world's ideological ally in Gaza.

Mr Nasrallah's admission last week sparked an angry outcry in the Egyptian press, which lambasted Mr Nasrallah as a war criminal.

Analysts said that this incident was part of a tug-of-war between Egypt on the one hand, and Iran and Hizbollah on the other.

"Egypt interpreted this as an Iranian threat to Egypt and responded accordingly," said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre. "They're raising the ante against Iran and Hizbollah and saying 'don't mess with us and expect to get away with it'."

During Israel's Gaza offensive Egypt was caught between the need to appear to help Palestinians and its desire not to jeopardise its peace treaty with Israel. Egypt has stated its territory should not be used to smuggle weapons to Hamas.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009


Iran using Hezbollah to enter Egypt: FM
14 April 2009

CAIRO - Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit accused Iran of using the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to gain a foothold in Egypt, in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

‘Iran, and Iran’s followers, want Egypt to become a maid of honour for the crowned Iranian queen when she enters the Middle East,’ Abul Gheit told the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Historically tense relations between Egypt and Iran have deteriorated since Egypt last week announced the arrest of 49 members of a cell belonging to the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah accused of plotting attacks in the country.

Security officials have since said that only 25 members of the cell were arrested, and 24 remained at large. Egyptian police are scouring the central Sinai peninsula for the remaining suspects.

The manhunt has prompted the Israeli military to put its troops on high alert along the border with the Sinai peninsula, an Israeli security official in Jerusalem told AFP.

‘I wish I could take pictures of all those who are writing in Iran and elsewhere... I wish I could see their eyes and their faces when their lower lips drop in astonishment at what the... public prosecutor will include in his report,’ Abul Gheit said.

‘(Iran) used (Hezbollah) to gain a presence in Egypt and to say to Egyptians: we are here,’ he added.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that one of the men arrested, a Lebanese identified as Sami Shehab, was a Hezbollah agent charged with smuggling weapons to Palestinian militants in Gaza.

But Nasrallah denied that the cell-which he said amounted to no more than 10 members-planned to carry out attacks in Egypt.

Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, is a vocal supporter of Hamas, the Islamist rulers of Gaza, and has lashed out at Egypt for closing its border crossing with the Palestinian enclave.

Regional heavyweights Egypt and Iran broke off diplomatic relations a year after Islamist revolutionaries overthrew the pro-Western Shah of Iran in 1979.

Iran opposed Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel and named a street in Teheran after the assassin of then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who was killed by an Egyptian Islamist militant in 1981.


Shiite Cleric Ali al-Amin on the Hezbollah/ Egypt Crisis

Asharq Al-Awsat

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- Ali al-Amin, the Shiite authority and former mufti of the city of Tyre and Mount Amil in southern Lebanon, said that "Nasrallah cannot alone decide on how best to serve and protect the Palestinian People, adding: "Hezbollah does not make its own decisions; it acts according to orders from Iran."

Ali al-Amin was 'removed' from his office as 'mufti' consequent to a decision by the de facto forces in southern Lebanon, without due legal process by competent authority. His removal was in response to his position on the events of 7 May 2008. He could not retrieve his books and personal possessions, as the 'Jaafari waqf' [Trust] where he used to have his office has been transformed into an office for the [Shiite] Amal Movement.

Asharq Al-Awsat met Ali al-Amin in his temporary office in Beirut and asked him about his reading of the announcement made by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah regarding the party's activities in Egypt.

The following is the text of the interview:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you regard the announcement by Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah of the presence of a cell in Egypt belonging to Hezbollah as a matter unworthy of what has been raised about it?

[Al-Amin]We reject the intervention of any party, Lebanese or non-Lebanese, in the internal affairs of other states. This step, which Hezbollah has admitted taking, is unacceptable because it is an intervention in the affairs of another sovereign state that has the will and the right to prevent what it regards as relating to its security and the security of its people. Therefore, we were surprised by this operation which was carried out by some Hezbollah party members, regardless of whether it was carried out under the slogan of helping the Palestinian people or not. The territory is Egyptian, not terra nullius; it is the territory of a sovereign independent state with laws in force that have to be respected.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you not think that the Palestinian cause requires that all efforts should be made to support it?

[Al-Amin] This issue cannot be decided by Nasrallah alone; it should be decided through the Egyptian state and its sovereignty. Nasrallah has no right to contravene the laws of any state, especially Egypt and the Egyptian people, who are still supporting the Palestinian cause and have offered a lot. Therefore it is not up to Hezbollah alone. He should have consulted with the Egyptian authorities to decide on the best way to serve the Palestinian people and alleviate their sufferings.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Hezbollah has admitted that it has a logistic presence in Egypt and called on the Egyptian authorities to deal quietly with the issue. Do you regard that as a decision by Hezbollah to impose its presence wherever it wants?

[Al-Amin] The decision is not in Hezbollah's hands. It cannot expand without prior authorization from Iran in this regard. What has happened is not in Hezbollah's interest. It has lost a lot of its popularity in Egypt and the Arab world, and has revealed through this conduct that it has no respect for other states. In Lebanon, it may contravene the law; the people cannot make it accountable because it has imposed its will by force of arms. But the Arab people respect their sovereignty and know how to defend it. It may be that its position in Lebanon has encouraged it to commit other contraventions.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that it is Iran that decides Hezbollah's strategy?

[Al-Amin] Of course; this is the way Iran works through Hezbollah. This is also what happened sometime ago in Morocco and before and after that in Yemen and Bahrain. Hezbollah seems to imagine that one can change state policy through a certain culture. This is unproductive, opens old wounds, and causes internal conflict in Islamic societies. This is not the Jaafari way and it does not reflect the messages of the Imams in promoting the message of Islam.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your reading of the Hezbollah attempt to extend its operations into Egypt?

[Al-Amin] The reason for this is the presence of a coalition between Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. Hezbollah is trying to help Hamas. Because it could not open the Lebanese front to defend Gaza, it is trying to reduce the burden of questioning Hezbollah's inability to support the Palestinian people which are being subjected to bombardment and destruction. It is as if he wanted to say to the Palestinians "I have not abandoned you."

[Asharq Al-Awsat] But the Shia in Lebanon seem to go along with whatever he wants; why should they make him accountable?

[Al-Amin] Hezbollah's choice of culture and military strategy represent only Hezbollah, its connections, and the section of people that it represents. Hezbollah does not represent the Shiites in Lebanon as a whole. The Shia in Lebanon do not all belong to Hezbollah; it represents a section of the Shia sect, as per the previous parliamentary elections. If we look at the figures, not participate. Consequently Hezbollah won a majority of the minority. I think things would be different this time if the electors are given the freedom to express themselves. They would say we do not want a state within a state and we do not want to be tied to external schemes. The Shiites in Lebanon do not want to be tied to Iran; they want normal relations with the Lebanese state and with other Arab states. If a referendum is held for a choice between the Lebanese state and Iran, they would unanimously choose the Lebanese state.


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