Egypt’s president warned regional adversaries on Wednesday that he would not tolerate what he called their tampering his country’s security and stability, a reference to Iran and the Hezbollah guerrilla group that it supports.
President Hosni Mubarak’s comments were his strongest words of warning since Egypt accused the powerful Lebanese militant group of plotting attacks in the country, and were also meant to send a strong message to the group’s backers in Iran.
Egypt announced earlier this month that it had uncovered a plot by 49 men with links to Hezbollah to destabilize the country by carrying out attacks on Egyptian institutions and Israeli tourists. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has rejected the accusations, while admitting that a Hezbollah member was in Egypt supervising weapons shipments to the militant Palestinian group Hamas that controls the neighboring Gaza Strip.
Egypt and other Arab nations have watched with concern as Iran has deepened its regional influence through its support for Hezbollah and its development of nuclear technology, though Iran says it is not aiming to produce atomic weapons, as the U.S. and its allies suspect.
“The Arab region is passing through a delicate and hard stage … and facing the threats of known regional powers that embrace terrorism and extremism and clearly brag of animosity to peace,” Mubarak said.
“After these powers and their hirelings have encroached on Egypt’s security and sovereignty, I say clearly that I don’t allow this and will not tolerate those who try to tamper with Egypt’s security and stability,” he said in a speech. He did not mention Iran or Hezbollah by name, but it was clear he was referring to the two.
Egypt’s allegations have raised concern about possible Hezbollah activity beyond Lebanon’s borders at a time when the guerrilla group and political movement, together with its allies, stands a good chance of dominating the country’s June 7 parliamentary elections. The United States and its allies among Arab governments like Egypt’s are also fearful that an electoral win by Hezbollah and its allies would increase the sway of the group’s backers Iran and Syria.