On Friday, Lebanese newspapers said that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian leader’s visit to Lebanon to Washington that Tehran cannot be isolated and it is a key player in the region.
“The Americans are being told: ‘If you isolate Iran, Iran will corner you in Lebanon and elsewhere’,” said an editorial in the independent daily Al-Anwar.
“The message is that if Washington wants solutions in the region… it must knock on Iran’s door.”
The United States and its allies have attempted to isolate Iran in a bid to force it to stop its nuclear programme, which Tehran asserts is for civilian purposes.
The Iranian president’s two-day visit to Lebanon, his first since his election in 2005, was widely seen as a boost to key ally Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite militant group that fought the 2006 war with Israel and which is thought to be a proxy of Iran.
The Israel and United States objurgated the trip as a “provocation” while members of Lebanon’s pro-Western parliamentary majority saw it as a bid to ram home the message that Tehran had a base on the Mediterranean.
“For the Iranians, their president’s visit is seen within the context of a great power boosting its presence in the region day by day,” said the daily Al-Akhbar, which is close to Hezbollah.
The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat for its part questioned whether the visit marked a bid by Iran to impose itself as a key player in the Middle East.
“Can Iran fill the void left in the Middle East after the ‘suicide’ of the Soviet Union and the US withdrawal from certain regions?” the London-based newspaper asked, adverting to the scaling back of the US military mission in Iraq.
“Is Tehran trying to impose itself as the United States’ primary interlocutor as far as security and stability in the region are concerned?”, it added.
Lebanese newspapers close to the parliamentary majority of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, which is locked in a standoff with Hezbollah over a UN investigation into the murder of Hariri’s father, did not remark much on the significances of the visit.
The daily Elshark, however, voiced the worries of many Lebanese that once Ahmadinejad leaves the country, the political battle between Hariri’s camp and the Shiite militant group will intensify.
The Arabic-language daily said: “We doubt that the truce observed for Ahmadinejad’s visit will continue after his departure”.