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Nasrallah: Some ruling powers are working to provoke a conflict between Shiites & Sunnis

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Compiled by, 29-01-2007

BEIRUT: Internal political initiatives intensified in Lebanon over the weekend in an attempt to defuse the political crisis between the ruling coalition and the opposition forces. As local and international leaders stepped up efforts to navigate a way out of the crisis, which has sparked fears of a return to civil war, Lebanese leaders from across the political spectrum called for calm and unity.

Hizbullah`s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, urged all the Lebanese, especially the families of those who died during recent clashes, to "remain calm, and not try to take revenge on their own."

"There is a state, there are security forces and there is a judicial system in Lebanon that will not let this issue go, and we will not let this issue go," he said.
"We have to protect Lebanon because this is an `Israeli` plot for us to fall into civil strife. Do not allow those devils to drag the resistance`s weapons into bringing down Lebanon and creating strife," he added.
"It is absolutely forbidden for there to be chaos among us. Spontaneous reactions are absolutely forbidden," he said.
"We will be judged on judgement day for this and we have a great responsibility to control ourselves," Nasrallah said.

Nasrallah repeated his vow that Hizbullah`s weapons would never be used in internal strife, but stressed that the opposition will not give up its campaign to unseat the government.

Nasrallah accuses leaders of stirring conflict

In the televised address the opposition leader Nasrallah added that "There are figures within the ruling powers who are working to provoke a conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in Lebanon."

"We reject sectarian conflict, civil war and we will not aim our weapons at anyone," he said. "We will not work in the service of `Israel`."
Nasrallah on Sunday sought to allay fears of renewed sectarian fighting.
"It is in the interest of Lebanon, the resistance and the people of Lebanon that we do not get involved in reactions," Nasrallah said, accusing pro-government groups of seeking to drag Hizbullah into a conflict.

He said events last week`s events were "a trap" to start sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites, calling on the families of the dead Shiites not to seek revenge.
"We will not surrender, but also we will not go into sectarian strife or civil war and we will not lift our weapons against anyone," Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah, whose movement has spearheaded a nearly two-month long opposition protest outside the government`s offices in central Beirut, did not name any specific leaders of the government in his speech.

Four people were killed and 152 injured Thursday in clashes between Sunni and Shiite Muslims apparently triggered by a row in a cafeteria at Beirut`s Arab University between government supporters and opponents.

"Those responsible for these incidents should be executed," Nasrallah said on Hizbullah`s Al-Manar television, while praising the Lebanese army for bringing the situation under control.

Hizbullah has been calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and the installation of a new unity government so that the opposition, which also includes Christian and other Shiite factions, would be included in decision making.

The leader of the militant Hizbullah also vowed on Sunday to fight back against the United States if White House-organized operations were to target the guerrilla group in Lebanon.
Hassan Nasrallah said he was reacting to a recent report in the Washington Post that said U.S. President George W. Bush`s administration has authorized widening a list of approved operations against Hizbullah in Lebanon.

"The Americans know that if they want to attack us, the one who will defend us is God. But also our religious duty calls on us to defend ourselves, our dignity and our blood," Nasrallah told supporters at a rally in Beirut`s southern suburbs Sunday night. His remarks, which appeared to be his interpretation of the newspaper report, drew repeated chants of "Death to America" from the crowd.

U.S. officials last week said American troops in Iraq have authority to kill or capture Iranian agents deemed to be a threat as part of measures taking a tougher stand toward Tehran and its suspected meddling in the war.

The Washington Post also reported in Friday`s editions that Bush authorized other measures meant to curb Iranian influence in the Mideast including a widening of a list of approved operations that can be carried out against Hizbullah in Lebanon. The report, which cited anonymous government and counterterrorism officials, said the administration`s plan included military, intelligence, political and diplomatic strategies in the region. It did not elaborate.

The occupation-resistance party Hizbullah has long been on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations. Washington has repeatedly demanded that Hizbullah, which fought a 34-day war with "Israel" last summer, be disarmed.
Last week, Bush warned in his State of the Union address of the danger from so-called "Shiite extremists" in reference to active occupation-resistance in the region, specifically naming Hizbullah.

Hizbullah is linked by the United States to attacks claimed by Shiite extremists against Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, including the self-sacrifice bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport and two U.S. Embassy compounds, which killed more than 270 Americans.

Hizbullah denies involvement in those attacks, as well as in the kidnapping of Americans in Beirut in the 1980s.
Nasrallah said the U.S. operations could target the group because it forced "Israel" to withdraw from southern Lebanon after an 18-year occupation in 2000 and fought them again last summer.
The U.S. deems Hizbullah guilty because "we fought and defeated the Zionists. Our guilt is that we will not bend our necks to America in Lebanon or elsewhere," he said. "Our guilt is that we will not give in to the United States of America."

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia`s ambassador to Lebanon, Abdel-Aziz Khoja, met separately Saturday with both Siniora and Berri.
Berri told reporters after the one-hour meeting with Khoja that he was "more optimistic" about reaching a resolution.

"It is time for the Lebanese to unite and save the country," Khoja told the media after his meeting with Siniora. "And it`s about time given how the situation has reached its peak."
When contacted by The Daily Star, sources close to the Arab League said that while no exact date has been set for Moussa`s next visit, his return to Lebanon will "most likely" be after Ashoura on Tuesday.

Moussa tried to mediate between Lebanese leaders during visits in December but failed to resolve the crisis.

The Arab League, among others, has made proposals in the past for reshaping Lebanon`s political institutions to better reflect the nation`s disparate communities - only to see none of them accepted.