An Iranian pledge to militarily intervene on behalf of the Assad regime is leading Arabic news on Sunday.

“The Iranian Republican Guard pledges to protect Assad,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat. Hussein Ta’eb, head of intelligence in the Revolutionary Guard, told Iran’s Fars News Agency Saturday that Iran has a responsibility to “support the government of Bashar Assad.

Syrian media sources are still sending contradictory messages regarding the possible defection of Vice President Farouq Shara, who has reportedly fled Syria for Jordan last week. Syria’s official SANA news agency denies reports that Shara was dismissed from his position after leaving the country.

‘The Iranian Republican Guard pledges to protect Assad’

Both A-Sharq Al-Awsat and London-based daily Al-Hayat display a Reuters image of a Syrian woman toting an AK-47 on the back of a pickup truck near the city of Homs.

Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reports a sharp rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria. The station claims that during the past week alone 30,000 refugees left Syria to neighboring countries. The lack of international funding has meant a cut in services to refugees in Jordan, the channel reports. The total number of refugees who have fled Syria so far is 200,000, mostly to Jordan and Turkey.

Al-Hayat columnist Hazem Al-Amin claims that the opposition Free Syrian Army has been wronged by the international community, which has classified it as an “army,” whereas it is a makeshift groups of warriors, an underdog, and should therefor not be held accountable for sporadic misconduct.

“They are not angels, but certainly not devils. They are victims of the regime, and the willingness of the victim to become a torturer can be limited through hastening the solution first.”

Palestinian drama over Hamas invitation to Iran

The Palestinian Authority is declaring Sunday that it will not attend the Non-Aligned summit in Tehran this week if Iran’s invitation to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is not revoked.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki tells Palestinian Authority daily Al-Ayyam Sunday that his government will not accept the presence of Haniyeh in Iran “whether as a special guest or a non-special guest” and will also call on other delegations to stay away.

Taher Nunu, a Hamas spokesman, tells the daily that Haniyeh intends to attend the summit “as the elected prime minister.”

‘Shame on the mullah regime in Iran for dealing with the Palestinian situation in a manner that deepens the divide, and transfers the internal Palestinian differences to the international stage’

“Stop tampering, O Mullahs,” is the headline of an op-ed by Adli Sadeq in the PA establishment daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah. Sadeq argues that Hamas’s participation is a grave miscalculation both on the part of the Islamic movement and on the part of the hosting country, Iran.

“The Iranians, in their invitation to Haniyeh, are violating the rules of conduct in the Non-Aligned bloc, as host countries are not allowed to restructure the authorities of invited countries,” writes Sadeq. “Shame on the mullah regime in Iran for dealing with the Palestinian situation in a manner that deepens the divide, and transfers the internal Palestinian differences to the international stage.”

He then goes on to accuse Hamas.

“Ismail Haniyeh may not want to think about the ramifications of this invitation on the Palestinian entity… it seems like all he is interested is the presidential welcome he will receive, with wide smiles and victory marks on display.”

“He wants to begin from the point Yasser Arafat began. He does not care that the world has changed; that he did not sleep on the mountain slopes, collecting fighters and building a revolution that turned Palestine from a refugee issue the size of a tent — similar to a thousand other issues in the world — to the most important international issue of the twentieth century.”

Tunisian TV satire angers the government

The Tunisian satire TV show “Political Logic,” modeled after the British puppet satire “Spitting Image,” has managed to anger the government and land the owner of the private station which aired in jail, Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya reports.

Sufian bin Farhat, who works at the Tunisiyah station, tells Al-Arabiya that the government is displeased with the pointed parody of government policy.

The channel reports a rise in tension between the Tunisian government and the Islamist Nahdha party and the country’s media.