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Date published: 2/7/2013
BEIRUT--These are tough times for Hezbollah. The Shiite militant group's uncompromising support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and allegations that it attacked Israeli tourists in Bulgaria are both unpopular in Lebanon, where it is increasingly accused of putting the interests of longtime patrons Iran and Syria over those of its home country.
For many in the deeply polarized and war-weary nation, Hezbollah's involvement in last year's bus attack that killed five Israelis, if confirmed, constitutes further proof that the group is willing to compromise the country's security for external agendas.
"Hezbollah uses the Lebanese people like sandbags, they don't care about the people," complained Michel Zeidan, echoing the views of others who called in to a talk radio show Wednesday.
"These are very serious accusations which would demonstrate once again that Hezbollah is completely driven by foreign agendas," Ahmad Fatfat, a Lebanese lawmaker in the pro-Western camp opposed to Hezbollah, told The Associated Press.
Hezbollah has denied involvement in the Bulgaria attack and has not made any direct comments since the findings of an investigation were announced Tuesday.
Asked to comment at a cabinet meeting Wednesday, Hezbollah minister Mohammed Fneish said: "Israel has been pointing fingers at Hezbollah from the first moment of the explosion took place."
The group's deputy chief, Sheik Naim Kassem, said Israel is conducting an international terror campaign against Hezbollah because it failed to defeat it militarily.
"All these accusations against Hezbollah will have no effect, and do not change the facts or realities on the ground," Kassem told supporters Wednesday, without referring to the Bulgarian charges directly.
Bulgarian officials said Tuesday that the Lebanese group has been linked to the sophisticated bombing carried out by a terrorist cell that included Canadian and Australian citizens. They said the two living suspects have been identified and are in Lebanon.