Arabic media review

‘Lavrov, the evil Russian fox’

Arab daily blasts Russia’s foreign minister; Netanyahu ‘not the only party pooper’; Yemen calls on Iran, Hezbollah to stay away

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech at the UN General Assembly Tuesday leads the news in much of the Arabic media on Wednesday, alongside the diplomatic back-and-forth on the Syrian issue.

London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi’s headline reads “Netanyahu: We are prepared to act in order to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.”

It notes: “The speech delivered by Netanyahu makes clear that a discrepancy in positions between the US and Israel still exists regarding the nuclear issue, in light of the signs of rapprochement between Washington and Tehran over the past days.”

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports that Netanyahu dedicated his UN speech to lambasting Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, “in an indication of Israeli fear regarding Rouhani’s ability to find favor with the US since his election as president.”

In an op-ed for A-Sharq Al-Awsat titled “Obama and Iran – who is spoiling the party?” columnist Tareq Homayed claims that Netanyahu may have traveled to New York with the intention of becoming the party pooper with regards to Iran, but he was certainly not the first.

“The first reaction to the famous [Friday phone] call between Obama and Rouhani,” Homayed notes, “came from the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, who criticized Rouhani, calling the phone conversation between the two a ‘tactical error!'”

“Today, we are definitely facing a party, namely the American-Iranian rapprochement. There are those who strive to spoil the party, for the simple reason that it is unrealistic and indicative of political naiveté. But it is not the Gulf Arabs and not even the Israelis who are spoiling the party directly, but rather domestic forces in Iran and the US.”

In an unusual critique of Russia’s foreign minister, meanwhile, London-based daily Al-Hayat leads its front page with a political profile by its Moscow correspondent titled “Lavrov the fox: the Arabs’ evil Mr. No.”

The paper describes Lavrov like this: “A chain-smoker, fond of hunting and adventure sports. A seasoned diplomat able to drown his interlocutors in details and entangle them in endless minutiae … with his grim face expressing no emotion.”

Al-Hayat criticizes Lavrov for utilizing his knowledge of international law to always find loopholes that serve his interests, while mocking him for waging his first major battle as Russia’s representative to the UN to fight a ban on smoking inside the building.

“It seems as though Lavrov earned the qualities of stubbornness and perseverance from his Caucus roots, managing to maneuver and shuffle the cards when feeling he may lose the round, as one Russian observer said.”

Yemeni minister: Hezbollah and Iran support separatists

Yemeni foreign minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi tells Al-Hayat that Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah are backing former South Yemen president Ali Salem Al-Beidh, who is calling for the secession of southern Yemen.

Al-Qirbi described Al-Beidh’s role in Yemen’s political process as “very negative,” claiming he had “bad intentions” for the country’s future.

As for the Shiite Houthi separatists in northern Yemen, Al-Qirbi praised the participation of the group in a national dialogue, adding that his government had asked Iran — which supports the separatists — to desist from its involvement in Yemeni politics.

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