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Hezbollah leader yearns to be in Tahrir Square

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah uses the demonstrations in Egypt as an opportunity to denounce the region's dictators

AFP , Tuesday 8 Feb 2011
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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said Monday he yearned to be in Cairo for the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak, as he lashed out at the United States for backing "dictatorships" in the Middle East.

"The United States is trying to contain the revolution and improve its own ugly image in the Middle East and Islamic world ... after years of backing the worst dictatorships our region has ever seen," Nasrallah said in a televised speech, as the anti-Mubarak movement in Egypt headed into its third week.

"But be sure that regimes allied with the United States and Israel cannot stand long against the will of the people," he added.
"As God is my witness, I yearn to be among you, to give my blood and soul, as any Egyptian youth would, to this noble cause," Nasrallah said in remarks directed at the protesters.

"From afar, from Beirut, all we can say to you is that we wish we could be with you in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, in Alexandria, in the city of Suez and elsewhere."
Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's most potent armed force, also declared that Egypt's protesters were on the threshold of changing the Middle East.

"Your movement today is a great, great deed and one of the most important turning points in the history of the nation and region," he said.
"Your acts will change the region. In your squares today, with your faith and will, you can change the face of the world."

The Shiite leader, whose already-tense ties with Mubarak took a turn for the worse during Israel's 2008 offensive in Gaza, placed his militant party at the service of Egypt's protestors.

"Today, on behalf of Hezbollah and all resistance movements in Lebanon ... we place ourselves at the service of Egypt and its people," he said.

"It took us a few days to take this stand," Nasrallah added. "We did not want you to face accusations ... that cells created by Hezbollah, (Palestinian Islamist) Hamas or the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were mobilising the protestors in Egypt."

Hezbollah - which opposes the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel - has had strained ties with Cairo for decades.

The militant Shiite movement sparked the ire of Mubarak in late 2008 by accusing Egypt of complicity with Israel, with which Hezbollah fought a deadly 2006 war, during the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Egyptian courts last year sentenced 26 people for allegedly planning attacks on behalf of Hezbollah, which was seen as retaliation for its criticism of Mubarak.

The arrests soured relations between predominantly Sunni Egypt and Shiite Hezbollah's backer Iran, with Cairo accusing Tehran of using the movement to gain a foothold in Egypt.

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