Confronting the new Hezbollah
Both Israel and Egypt are unsettled by the new face of Hezbollah. A once ‘terrorist’ group with a strong military arm, now integrated into civil government, and quite probably a serious contender for substantial power gains in the upcoming Lebanese elections. Such a legitimizing sends shivers up the spines of Israel, because if Hamas follows a similar path of evolution then it is of great concern to world percetion of their conflict. In addition, it cements Hezbollah as a populist movement capable of delivering a military sting from its border with Lebanon. There is also much discussion of Hezbollah and its support for Hamas, seeing Israel potentially squeezed in the middle. Egypt is no fan of Hezbollah either who have frequently called Mubrak’s government to task for their cooperation with Israel. Add into this volatile mix the popularity of Hezbollah leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, in the region and it is a Netanyahu-Mubarak nightmare scenario. We have reported before how Hezbollah has made the most of its opportunity, and migrated from a disrupter role toward the mainstream, much to the vocal annoyance of Egypt – ‘Hizbullah not setting up cell in Egypt’ (Jerusalem Post)
Egypt was wasting money and efforts in trying to vilify Hizbullah, Nasrallah said in a televised speech Friday night, again rejecting accusations of Hizbullah plots against Egypt.
“We didn’t set up a cell in Egypt and we don’t intend to set up a cell in Egypt,” he said. “We are not seeking to target Egypt, its security, its regime or its stability.”
Egypt’s “wide-scale political, propaganda and media campaign” has failed to “distort Hizbullah’s image,” Nasrallah said, but added that Hizbullah would not engage in any sort of counter-campaign against Egypt in order to allow for Arab and Lebanese mediators to work to end the dispute.