CAIRO,(Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Saturday he feared continued street demonstrations, especially if they became sectarian, could turn Lebanon into a battlefield.
On Friday hundreds of thousands of Hezbollah-led protesters rallied in Beirut to try to force the resignation of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s U.S.-backed government. The protest continued on Saturday. “Wisdom is required in dealing with internal differences,” Mubarak told journalists in Sharm el-Sheikh, where he was meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “What I fear is that if the demonstrations continue, and take on a sectarian form, supporters of these sects from outside Lebanon will join in and no one will be able to control it, especially if it continues for a long time.”
Mubarak, an ally of Washington in the Middle East, said he was worried outside forces could exacerbate the situation. “And the result will be a transformation of Lebanon into a battlefield that subjects it to danger,” he said.
Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful Shi’ite Muslim group, and its pro-Syrian allies had called on Lebanese from across the country to take part in the protest in the capital Beirut, to be followed by an indefinite sit-in.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, has branded the government a U.S. puppet. Hezbollah has been at loggerheads with Siniora’s government over what it says was its failure to back the group during the July-August war with Israel.