The toppling of the Yemeni government by Huthi rebels has created a sense of desperation among Arab social media users and stoked a deep-seated hostility toward Iran, the backer of proxy regimes and organisations in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.
The current conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen have acquired sectarian overtones, with Iran’s policy of supporting Shiite parties and militias being matched by the conservative Gulf monarchies funding Sunni governments and communities all over the world.
Social networking sites are abuzz with anger at what many Arabs perceive to be Iran’s proxy war against Sunni Islam first in Iraq, then Syria and now Yemen, let alone its backing for Hezbollah, a Shiite armed group and one of the largest political parties represented in Lebanon’s parliament.
With a hashtag #Iranourenemy that drew 160,000 tweets over the past seven days, Arabs, some from Syria and Iraq, expressed a mix of anger, fear and dismay at the perceived failure of Sunni regimes in the face of “the Iran-backed Shiite threat”.
“We congratulate Iran for the establishment of the Huthi state and for completing its domination of the fourth Arab country and the fifth one is on the way,” read a tweet from Farih Alanzi.
In a tweet in English, Qamar of Iraq tweeted: “Iran’s mullahs, our enemy in Iraq and Syria; they killed innocent Sunni civilians.”
“The cause for all the plights facing the [Arab] nation is the Magi and yet Arabs are still calling them a friendly country,” the Forum of the Syrian revolution wrote.
The magi is a derogatory term used by devout Sunni Muslims to describe Iranians, denoting a general Arab bias against Iran’s pre-Islamic Zoroastrian heritage.
Some tweets suggested that Arab hatred towards Israel pales in comparison with Sunni Muslims’ animosity towards Iran, the biggest Shiite country in the world.
Encapsulating this sentiment, Al-Jazeera correspondent, Ahmed Muwafak Zeydan, tweeted: “Over the past decades, Israel has not killed one tenth of those killed in the last few years by Iran in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon”.
In the same vein, Abu-Jarah al-Shami tweeted: “Before Israel, I have always considered Iran to be my enemy; Iranians are not much different from Jews.”
Other tweets expressed bitter indignation at the US, accusing it of making “a deal” with Iran so as to not ruin its ongoing nuclear negotiations with Tehran.
Hadid H tweeted: “Indeed, Iran is our enemy and America is not our friend and we are paying the price for their deal; if we don’t stop it and act now, more Arab capitals will fall [to Iran].”
In a tweet calling for an end to “Iran’s hubris”, blogger Bela3nwan saw the solution in “a Turkish-Saudi alliance”.
Fewer tweets seemed to echo the view that Arabs have only themselves to blame for their current malaise.
Theeb Alkahtani tweeted: “Ignorance is our real enemy; it is our lack of planning and vision and our waiting for someone else to plan for us while all we stand by and do nothing.”