Political Cartoons I: The Arabs and Iran

February 18, 2014
            The following political cartoons reflect the Arab world’s growing alarm over the potential for progress on Iran’s nuclear program. The Gulf sheikdoms especially fear that a diplomatic deal will allow rival Iran to shed its pariah status and reemerge as a regional powerhouse — to their disadvantage.
            A figure representing Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wears a hand puppet representing President Hassan Rouhani and discards another puppet representing former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Source: Kamiran Semdir for Al Jazeera)
            Figures representing Iran and the United States embrace each other with arms resembling machine guns. Signposts on both sides read “the Arabs.” (Source: Al Mezmaah)
             Iran marches towards a chair labeled “dreams of hegemony.” Iran’s right leg represents Syria. The left leg represents Hezbollah, a Shiite Lebanese militia and political party backed by Tehran. Hezbollah is currently supporting the Syrian regime against opposition forces. (Source: Syrian Change)
            Supreme Leader Khamenei holds Rouhani’s hand while telling Ahmadinejad to go home and let the new president have his “turn to play.” The donkey is labeled “[Nouri] al Maliki”, prime minister of Iraq. The yellow block bears Hezbollah’s logo and the orange block above it represents “Al Mayadeen TV,” a Lebanese channel. The red and white block represents Bahrain, where predominantly Shiite protestors have called for greater political freedom. The green block represents the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, a Shiite group. (Source: Yasser Abu Hamid via Syria Change)


            A figure representing President Rouhani climbs a ladder to the Geneva nuclear talks while addressing an outstretched hand in a Syria-shaped well labeled “Hassan Nasrallah’s well.” Nasrallah is the secretary general of Hezbollah. Rouhani says “I have no time for you now!” (Source: Hassan Bleibel)
           A caricature of Secretary of State John Kerry says “my beloved friend… the Axis of Evil!” while reaching to shake hands with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “My brother… the Great Satan!” the caricature of Zarif says. (Source: Hassan Bleibel via Entekhab News)
           The bar across the door reads “nuclear deal” and the substance seeping out from underneath is labeled “sanctions.” The stunned and confused figure facing the door has an armband labeled “Tehran.” (Source: Ashaq Al-Awsat)
Faris Al Sulayman, a research assistant at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, contributed to this roundup.