New US cronies taking charge: Zawahiri
Al Qaeda's Egyptian-born number two Ayman al-Zawahiri has said the United States is installing sympathetic new regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, demanding Muslims rise up against "whippers" and "invaders".
The SITE monitoring service said Monday that Zawahiri had released the third of a series of audio messages on uprisings in the Arab world, recorded between the fall of Tunisia's regime and Hosni Mubarak's government in Egypt.
Railing against Washington, Zawahiri also said Tunisians should resist "the French occupier" and establish "a rule that will be a role model of counselling and justice for your brothers".
The United States had abandoned Tunisia's long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in mid-January when it became clear that he had become a liability, the fugitive deputy to Al-Qaeda supremo Osama bin Laden said.
"However, the reins of the affairs remain with America's men, its agents and their soldiers..." Zawahiri said.
The same thing was happening in Egypt, he said in the message, recorded before Mubarak was ousted by the military on February 11 following more than two weeks of mass protests.
Zawahiri said a "secular alternative" was emerging in the shape of Mohamed ElBaradei, the former Vienna-based UN atomic chief.
"I don't know where will be the headquarters of this transitional government -- in Cairo or in Vienna or in New York?" he said.
"He is an alternative that is in harmony with the international system, fulfilling its interests and giving the poor and weak some freedoms and some liberty," his message said.
"But Egypt will remain a base for the Crusader campaign and a primary partner in America's war on Islam under the name of war on terror, and protector of the southern border for the Zionist Entity (Israel)."
Addressing the "free, honourable ones" in Egypt, Tunisia, and all Muslim nations, Zawahiri said: "Know that the road is still long in order to free our Ummah (Islamic community) from its whippers and its invaders."
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