'Egyptian Regime Wants Revenge, Seeks to Sully Hezbollah Image'
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem stressed on Wednesday that Egyptian accusations against the Lebanese Resistance group were baseless and part of a political ploy to discredit the movement.
"It has become clear to everyone that these accusations are fabricated... and that they are worthless," Sheikh Qassem said during an interview with AFP.
"The Egyptian regime wants revenge and is seeking to sully Hezbollah's image", his eminence emphasized. "This whole thing is politically motivated and will result in a backlash against the Egyptian regime."
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General confirmed that one of the men arrested in Cairo was a Hezbollah operative but stressed that his mission was solely to provide assistance to Palestinian militants in Gaza.
"We have one enemy called Israel and as far as we are concerned Egypt is not an enemy," his eminence recalled, stressing that "Egypt's accusations are in revenge for our position on Gaza and our demand that the Rafah border crossing be opened."
HEZBOLLAH GAVE STATE INFORMATION ON ARRESTED SPY
Turning to another topic, Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah actively coordinated with Lebanon's security services on the arrest of a retired general suspected of spying for the Zionist entity. "Security forces monitored the movements of Adib al-Aalam and asked Hezbollah for information on him," his eminence said.
Aalam was arrested at his office near Beirut on suspicion of having provided Israel with information for the past decade on Lebanese security services and the Islamic Resistance group. The retired general ran a housekeeping service allegedly used as a front.
"Preliminary information indicates he had been working as a spy for Israel for over 25 years and retired from his position in national security eight years ago," Sheikh Qassem said, adding that Aalam's wife was also implicated in the spy operation. "His arrest was a major achievement," his eminence added.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General noted, however, that this did not mean that Israel's network had been busted in Lebanon. "Israel works vertically, and not horizontally. It collaborates with two or three people, and if one network is caught, it may not point in the direction of the other networks," Sheikh Qassem said.
WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE RUSHING TO SPEAK WITH US
His eminence, meanwhile, reiterated that the West can no longer ignore Hezbollah, noting that it has actually given assurances it will deal with the Lebanese Resistance group if it wins upcoming elections.
"Western countries are rushing to speak with us and will do so even more in the future," Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General said, adding that a number of European countries as well as the International Monetary Fund have reassured Hezbollah's leadership that they will not boycott the group if it wins the June 7 poll as was the case with the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas in 2006. "The ambassador of a key European country also informed us that the US will deal with any government even though they are hoping the (Western-backed) ruling majority wins the vote," Sheikh Qassem said.
THEY DISCOVERED THAT WE ARE OPEN MINDED
Moreover, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General stressed that the Resistance group's image has significantly improved in the West. "They discovered that we accept dialogue ... that our resistance is well thought-out and ... that we are open-minded," his eminence said. "The more they get to know us, the more they will realize the need to respect us."
His eminence also welcomed the recent change in US administrations. "Things look good now that Bush is gone and Obama is trying to open up to the world and make up for the mistakes of the previous administration," Sheikh Qassem said, referring to US President Barack Obama who has reached out to the Muslim world.
Sheikh Qassem said that Hezbollah wanted "concrete measures" from Washington rather than mere talk. "Until now, our stand has been that we do not deal with the US administration until change comes about in its attitude," Sheikh Qassem said. "Once that happens, then we'll see."
Sheikh Qassem sidestepped questions on Hezbollah's weapons, saying they will be dealt with once Lebanon comes up with a national defense strategy. "We usually do not talk about (the source of) our funding and weapons," his eminence said. "We are a resistance movement and as such we do not address questions about our funding, arms and number of fighters."