Jordan's King Says Arab Moderates Change
Thursday, August 3, 2006; 4:12 PM
AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan's king warned the United States and Israel Thursday that the fighting in Lebanon has weakened moderates across the Mideast.
Even if Hezbollah is destroyed, the hostility toward Israel is so high that another such group could pop up in Syria, Egypt, Iraq _ or even his own country, King Abdullah II was quoted as saying in published reports.
"The Arab people see Hezbollah as a hero because it's fighting Israel's aggression," he said. "This is a fact that the U.S. and Israel must realize: As long as there is aggression, there's resistance and there's popular support for this resistance."
The three-week-old conflict has sharply raised tensions across the Mideast, and leaders like Abdullah, a key U.S. ally who initially blamed Hezbollah for sparking the conflict by capturing two Israeli soldiers, have become increasingly critical of the United States and Israel.
Abdullah and other Arab moderates, such as the Egyptian and Saudi leaders, have warned recently that the fighting was hurting any hope for reviving Mideast peacemaking.
In a joint interview with the Al Rai and Al Ghad dailies, Abdullah said Israel's "aggression has exceeded all limits and must stop immediately."
He warned that Israeli attacks in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories have created "despair in the whole region" and "weakened the voice of moderation."
In the Egyptian capital of Cairo, meanwhile, about 50 women protested near the U.S. Embassy on Thursday, urging an immediate cease-fire, while outside the Lebanese Embassy in Amman, about 150 people held a candlelight vigil to remember those killed.
The head of Egypt's main opposition group, the banned Muslim Brotherhood, said his group was prepared to send 10,000 "holy warriors" to help Hezbollah.
"If the government permits, there are 10,000 mujahadeen ready," Mohammed Mahdi Akef told the weekly edition of independent newspaper Nahdat Masr.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said Egypt will not be dragged into the conflict militarily. Mubarak warned earlier this week that the peace process could collapse because of Israel's offensive in Lebanon.
He also sent a letter Wednesday to President Bush urging him to step up international efforts "to achieve an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire," according to the Middle East News Agency.