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Iran's Reformist Press Criticizes Rouhani; Hard-liners’ Daily Threatens Neighbors

Iran -- A newsstand in Tehran, 17 April 2014.

A hard-line daily close to the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has quoted a spokesman for the Yemeni Houthi rebels as a warning to Western companies to leave Riyadh, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi.

The hard-line daily further quoted the spokesman as saying that "missiles are on their way."

The Kayhan, whose editor is appointed by Khamenei, wrote on July 25 that the spokesman has warned Western companies against investing in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Iran and Saudi Arabia support opposing sides in the Yemeni civil war through a proxy conflict that has claimed many lives over the past two years.

Kayhan's frontpage headline, "Missiles On Their Way, Evacuate Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh," could be part of Iran's campaign to strengthen Tehran's position in the war of words between Iran and U.S. officials in this week.

Kyahan further claimed that Yemeni “revolutionaries” had previously hit Riyadh and the UAE with their ballistic missiles “several times.”

Following the exchange of threats between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and U.S. President Donald Trump, two pro-reform daily newspapers in Iran have criticized Rouhani for threatening the United States.

Responding to U.S. threats to bring Iran's oil exports to a halt, Rouhani warned the United States on July 22 "not to play with the lion's tail," saying the U.S. would regret the consequences including "the closure of many straits," a probable allusion to the Strait of Bab al-Mandab. Trump warned Rouhani to "Never, never threaten the United States again or you will suffer the consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before."

The pro-reform centrist daily Arman wrote in a commentary on July 24, "One can unite all of the enemies against himself with just one comment," adding, "the U.S. wishes to portray Iran as a dangerous entity."

Arman warned Rouhani that "if all doors to negotiations are closed, beating on the drums of confrontation would be inevitable, and such a confrontation could bring about unforeseen dangers. Therefore, we must move in a calculated way in these sensitive moments. "

Meanwhile, another reformist daily, Bahar, wrote in a commentary on July 25 that Rouhani's statement "does not help improve Iran's situation."

Bahar opined that "what prompted Rouhani to talk tough is that hard-liners welcome such rhetoric," adding, "Threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz is not the right choice for a statement against the United States."

"That kind of a choice of words could be costly and would invite challenges," the Bahar commentary further warned.

In its most serious warning to Rouhani, Bahar wrote, "Comments like this are not the best choice for a country whose economy is not like Scandinavian states, a country that is facing many challenges including water and power shortage, drought, unemployment, inflation, embezzlement, foreign currency crisis, and environmental pollution."

"Such comments would make America more seriously resolved to harness and isolate Iran," Bahar said.