The swearing-in of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani features high on Arabic news sites Sunday, alongside reactions to a fiery speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Al-Quds Day.
“Rouhani stresses the priority of lifting sanctions: moderation is a characteristic of Iranian culture,” reads the headline of London-based daily Al-Hayat, featuring an image of Rouhani sitting on the ground next to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sitting on a chair in between the two.
“Rouhani receives the reins of Iran’s presidency from Khamenei,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, alongside a photo of the supreme leader embracing the new president.
According to the daily, Ahmadinejad “was not given the opportunity to deliver a speech as is customary,” and merely sat nearby.
Al-Hayat columnist Abdullah Iskandar blasts Iran’s use of “Al-Quds day,” a day of solidarity with the Palestinian cause on the last Friday of Ramadan, as a cynical way of monopolizing the Palestinian issue.
“ِAl-Quds day has gone from a day of solidarity with the Palestinian people and of mobilization for their national cause to a day of incitement to raise the banner of the Islamic Republic which Khomeini established in Iran,” writes Iskandar.
Nasrallah’s evocation of Jerusalem fails to move Arabs
Another speech delivered on Al-Quds day was that of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which he called Israel “a cancerous growth” that must be wiped out and given no opportunity to surrender.
Arab media was highly cynical of Nasrallah’s speech, calling it a transparent attempt to distract the world from Hezbollah’s crimes in Syria.
“Hezbollah’s secretary general tries to divert attention from his intervention in Syria,” reads the headline of Saudi-owned news site Elaph.
Syrian oppositionist Fahd A-Radawi tells the news site that by bringing the Palestinian issue back to the forefront of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Nasrallah was “playing a chord which not longer produces an emotional melody as it did in the 1960s.”
“Now Hezbollah is threatening the Lebanese president!” writes A-Sharq Al-Awsat columnist Abdul Rahman Rashed Sunday, following the firing of two missiles at the presidential palace in Baabda, an attack widely attributed to Hezbollah.
“There are no more red lines, and no limit to the thuggery which can be borne. It began with the killing of Rafik Hariri in 2005 and did not end with [the attack on] the Lebanese president today. Hezbollah’s image in the Arab world has changed, and so too in Lebanon. It has lied to the world that it is a resistance party, becoming today a militia of thugs,” writes Rashed.
Attempting to solve the political deadlock in Lebanon, former prime minister Saad Hariri proposed that both his March 14 bloc and Hezbollah’s March 8 bloc remain outside the next government, a proposal endorsed by Hariri’s party daily Al-Mustaqbal but still unanswered by Hezbollah.
“It is unclear why Hezbollah continues to place its interests above the rest and before the rest. It has taking Lebanon and its institutions — as well as all Lebanese — hostage, to safeguard its own agenda and its local and international ties,” reads the editorial in Al-Mustaqbal.
“It’s very simple,” continues the editorial. “Hezbollah can either continue its suicidal policy in the realms of security and diplomacy in Lebanon, Syria and Abuja [a reference to the arrest of a Hezbollah operative in the Nigerian capital], or it can take one little step backward and realize a great and important wish for Lebanese.”
Not all Lebanese media is cynical toward Nasrallah’s speech on Sunday, though.
Pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar, in an article featuring a smiling Nasrallah and titled “We will not forgo Palestine,” praises the speech as “honest and clear, placing the conflict with Israel as a priority over other matters.”
“Yesterday, many were angry at the entire scene,” writes Al-Akhbar columnist Ibrahim Al-Amin. “From his surprise appearance, to his clear and forceful speech, to his ignoring of all the petty people and their delusions. He was smiling, excited in his pleasure. Smile O Sayid, and let them die in their rage!”