Shadow of 2017 Protests Looms over Iranian Media Coverage of Lebanese Protests
Amid the Iranian media’s reservations about covering protests in the Lebanese street, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday that Iran “does not intend to interfere in the internal issues of other countries,” expressing the hope that calm would return to Lebanon through solidarity and coordination between all parties and forces.
“The Lebanese people are mature; it is natural that they have demands… and that the Lebanese government listen to the voices of the protesters,” the spokesman said, according to Tasnim news agency.
“We hope that the wisdom of the Lebanese people and the many bitter experiences that they have gone through in recent years would allow them to get through these events,” he added.
The Iranian media dealt with the developments in Lebanon in a way similar to its coverage of the Iraqi protests, which it considered as “strife” influenced by the policies of the United States and its regional allies.
Iranian newspapers on Saturday focused on disputes between political parties without elaborating on the main reasons of the protests, mainly the economic situation.
The media is likely to continue this approach, especially as the developments are taking place in a country that the Iranian authorities view as one of its most important areas of influence in West Asia.
Lebanon’s protests calling for better living conditions and the fight against a corrupt political class coincide with a deteriorating living situation in Iran and an internal debate over the impact of corruption on the tightening of sanctions the US administration has re-imposed since its withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018.
Iran will soon mark the second anniversary of the broadest popular demonstrations that erupted at the end of December 2017 against poor living conditions and which spread to more than 80 cities.
Fearing the renewal of protests, the media is addressing with caution the developments in Lebanon.
In its Sunday and Monday editions, Kayhan, a newspaper close to the office of the supreme leader, did not publish about any protests in any Arab country. Instead, it widely covered the speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, under the title of: “Hezbollah's Opposition to Troubles… Defeated Sedition in Lebanon.”
The Aftab Yazd newspaper, in its Sunday edition, said the aim of the protests was “to weaken the March 8 movement.”
On the other hand, reformist newspaper “Etemad”, in its issue on Sunday, said that Lebanon needed to reform its internal house. It published a selfie of protesters raising the Lebanese flag and standing in front of burning tires, with quotes from the statement of Hezbollah’s secretary general.