Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Support spreads for Hezbollah leader

By Aussiegirl

Nasrallah has become the new Nasser in the Middle East, strengthened and empowered by his apparent victory over Israel.

Support spreads for Hezbollah leader�-�World�-�insider.washingtontimes.com

Sheik Hassan Nasrallah's face filled the television above the bar, and the upscale, secular crowd at Lina's shushed itself into silence.

For 30 minutes, young and fashionable Beirut listened intently to his address, nodding from time to time and even applauding when the head of Hezbollah threatened to retaliate against Israel with strikes on Tel Aviv.

Before the war, or even in its early days, this well-heeled audience would have paid Sheik Nasrallah scant attention. But after weeks of fighting, the leader has won over new supporters, far from his usual power base among Lebanon's poor and rural Shi'ite Muslims.

The development is especially troubling to Christians and Sunni Muslims who believe Hezbollah provoked an unnecessary and devastating war without the support of the government or the people.

Yet even among these communities, which have struggled to escape the political stranglehold of Hezbollah's close ally Syria, there is an undeniable admiration for the militia's monthlong stand against the Israeli Defense Forces.

"Israel has proved it is an aggressive neighbor, and it's proven the logic of Hezbollah's resistance," said political analyst Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at the Lebanese American University in Beirut.

"The resistance was the only capable source of confronting Israel. No single Arab army has been able to win against Israel militarily."

[...] Today, the same people are talking about the problems posed by Hezbollah's increased popularity for other Arab nations, which have their own sectarian divisions and armed Islamic groups.

"Hassan Nasrallah has won militarily and politically and has become a new leader like [Gamal Abdel] Nasser," Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, a harsh critic of Hezbollah's alliance with Iran and Syria, said in a television interview. He was referring to the former Egyptian president, who became a hero to many Arabs with a failed attack on Israel in the Sinai Peninsula in 1967.


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