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Tuesday, July 18

Major Turkish daily Zaman interpets current Israel-Hezbollah conflict

Crisis in Lebanon may Threaten Other Regimes in the Region
Foreign News Desk
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Zaman.com

"Israeli attacks on Lebanon have divided the Arab world as to its position with Hezbollah.

The crisis will seriously affect the balance of power in the Middle East, and it will enhance Iran’s influence, Hezbollah’s “principal supporter,” in the region.

US allies -- Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan -- hold Hezbollah responsible for the crisis, while Sunni populated Arab countries support Hezbollah.

The recent developments are believed to widen the gap between Arab governments and their citizens.

New York Times reported that Saudi Arabia, Jordan and several Persian Gulf states chastised Hezbollah for “unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts” at an emergency Arab League summit held on July 16 to discuss the “Lebanon” crisis.

The newspaper described Arab leaders’ criticism of Hezbollah, instead of blaming Israel, which has been killing civilians in Lebanon, as “unusual.”

The shift in attitude was attributed to the “Iranian threat,” although hostility towards Israel has escalated following the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and the Gaza.

Shiite influence on balance of Powers

Washington’s pressure to “oppose Hezbollah” is a significant factor in the Arab leaders’ stance against the Hezbollah.

Furthermore, New York Times claimed that if Arab governments continue to ignore the public opinion, they may face the danger of “being overthrown.”

The British newspaper Times wrote recent clashes will affect the power balance in the region deeply.

Clashes between Israel and Hezbollah will also affect not only Israel but also pro-Western countries such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan as well, the news reads, adding that countries with substantial Shiite majority like Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, make a “Shiite crescent.”

Iran gains prestige in the region

Los Angeles Times put Syria and Iran on one side, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Gulf countries, which are concerned about increasing Shiite influence, on the other.

The newspaper qualified Shiite Hezbollah as a significant factor in this division.

Widespread Sunni public support for Hezbollah opens a new avenue for Iran, Hezbollah's principal patron, the paper wrote.

Mouin Rabbani, a Jordan-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, told the paper that Sunni leaders are concerned that Shiite influence may increase if Shiites seize power in Iraq.

LA Times wrote that Hezbollah has gained popularity in the recent crisis, and added even in the predominantly Sunni Syria people are carrying posters of Nasrallah on car and shop windows.

Imam Hamdi, a political scientist at the American University in Cairo, told the paper, “Hezbollah managed to do something for Palestinians that all the Arab governments with their huge armies haven't been able to. It very much discredits these regimes in the eyes of the people.”
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