Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting in Syria is pushing the American administration closer to a decision to arm anti-Assad rebels, blared the headlines of Arabic-language newspapers on Tuesday.
US President Barack Obama recently held an “urgent” series of meetings to discuss “widening the options” and arming the moderate Syrian opposition, reports London-based daily Al-Hayat alongside a photo of a destroyed Syrian street.
In its top article, the daily reports that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intervene in withdrawing Hezbollah forces from the battlefield in Syria.
According to the paper, which quotes “official sources,” Suleiman summoned Iranian ambassador to Lebanon Ghadanfar Rukun Abadi and asked him to convey a message to Ahmadinejad whereby “Hezbollah’s overt participation in the fighting in Syria is completely inexcusable and we do not condone it as the Lebanese state.”
Lebanon realizes that Hezbollah takes its orders from Iran, believing in the Shiite religious principle of Guardianship of the Jurist, which grants Ayatollah Ali Khaminei supreme authority over his followers’ political discretion.
The Lebanese president also demanded clarifications from the Iranians regarding the killing on Sunday of a Lebanese anti-Assad protester, Hisham Salman, across from the Iranian embassy in Beirut.
A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Tareq Homayed writes in an op-ed that the killing of Salman demonstrates that Hezbollah has effectively kidnapped Lebanon, and even its Shiite citizens, at gunpoint. He stresses that Salman himself was a Shiite, yet the leaders of his sect did not speak up to condemn his killing.
“It is not requested of the Shiite wise men to lift up arms against Hezbollah or to create Shiite awakening councils. All that is requested is that they speak up and condemn what the party is doing in Syria in a bid to remove Lebanon and the region from danger. This is the least they can do, or else everyone — Shia and Sunni alike — will become victims of Hezbollah’s extremism and Iran’s destruction of the region.”
The Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reports on in-depth talks in Paris Monday between the foreign ministers of France and Saudi Arabia about the Syrian situation .
According to the paper, both the French and the Saudis agree on the need to help the Syrian opposition join the Geneva 2 conference on the future of Syria, which will not include Bashar Assad as president.
“Washington is weighing various options on Syria,” reads the headline in the website of Al-Jazeera, a Qatari news station. According to the report, Secretary of State John Kerry has postponed his visit to the region in order to take part in discussions on Syria. President Obama, the report claims, has not yet made a final decision on arming the rebels, despite significant pressure from both Republican and Democratic parliamentarians.
In an op-ed titled “The Iranian ‘Arab unity,'” Al-Hayat columnist Hazem Saghiyeh laments the fact that many Arabs were misled by Hezbollah’s disingenuous usage of Islamic slogans.
“Hezbollah, in the name of Islam, promoted and strengthened an extremely sectarian and partial narrative of Islam itself. It monopolized concepts such as the liberation of Palestine and combating Israel and used them to marginalize or eliminate forces that said the same thing from various political and ideological positions. Hezbollah managed to do all of this because we all shut our eyes to the deceit of liberation and resistance — which have become sanctified — and became involved in them.”
Algerian president absent, never to return?
The unknown medical condition of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leads the front page of Al-Quds Al-Arabi Tuesday.
According to the daily, the president has been away from Algeria for over 40 days, and the government is finding it increasingly difficult to justify his absence, “opening the door to all sorts of possibilities, scenarios and rumors.”
The paper quotes Foreign Minister Murad Medelci as saying that Bouteflika’s health situation is improving and he conveys his orders to Algerian officials on a daily basis from his Paris sickbed.
But journalist Kamal Zayit writes that such statements only underscore “the level of embarrassment and suffering faced by Algerian officials” in attempting to justify Bouteflika’s absence.