Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that his organization “is siding with the resistance in Iraq” in a speech to hundreds of thousands of supporters in Beirut. “The Iraqis, Shia and Sunni, who took part in the political process wanted to give it a chance,” he said in his address May 26. “But now that the real American goal in Iraq has been exposed the Iraqi government is put to a test.”
Nasrallah issued a challenge to the Iraqi government to take a stand against the US military presence. “The Americans allowed the elections and the formation of parliament and a government so that they get an Iraqi legitimization of the occupation,” he said, referring to a reported US-Iraqi agreement for permanent bases.
The speech, aired over a video link to supporters, was part of celebrations to mark eight years since Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon. In downtown Beirut, security officials said at least nine were injured during the celebrations. The Corniche Mazraa, where the shooting took place, is an avenue separating Shi’ite and Sunni areas of Beirut and was the scene of fighting earlier this month.
The fighting came a day after former army chief Michel Sleiman was elected Lebanon’s new president in a parliamentary session after Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, helped broker a deal to end the dispute between political factions. “The election of Michel Sleiman brings hope to the Lebanese of a new era and a new beginning,” Nasrallah said. (AlJazeera, May 26)
Nasrallah’s speech comes days after the New York Times’ Michael Gordon cited anonymous claims of US officials that Hezbollah is supporting Iraqi insurgents.