There are reports that Arab-speakers, Hamas or Hezbollah, are involved in the brutal repression of the pro-democracy movement in Iraq.
Is this true?
The motivation is there for Hamas to send assistance to the Iranian regime. Hamas gets arms, funding (about 6% of Hamas' annual budget) and training from Iran, and was an early accepter of Ahmadinajad's "election".
The main source is from the Jerusalem Post which carries two accounts from protestors who claimed that Palestinians were doing the beating. The Jerusalem Post is not an unbiassed source, but read it and make up your own mind.
A Twitter account reads: "Be aware of Hamas and Arab militia import! I saw a number of Arab speaking 20- 30 yr old arriving Tehran airport over the past week". I have the source for this, but we do not give out Twitter addresses from Iran, because they can get traced, beaten or kidnapped.
One of the most often repeated tweets is this "Iran rumor about Hezbolah & Hamas helping Basij, until today I never believed it but I saw them today with my own eyes". I have found eight pages so far, but have been unable to dig down to the original tweet.
Jamsheed Chosky, Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University, says
"We are hearing reports from Iranians in Tehran, Shiraz and Esfahan that Arabic-speaking militias are arriving. The vast majority of Iranians cannot speak any Arabic. It's very likely those Arab militia members are from Hezbollah and/or Hamas. Similar reports were consistently present during and right after the Islamic revolution of 1979, when Arab militants reinforced Iranian religious extremists after the revolution to ensure that no counter-revolts could occur.
So the evidence for Palestinian or Hezbollah involvement in the repression is weak at the moment, but it does exist.
Does it matter? It does if you are an Iranian democrat having your ribs broken by a foreigner in your own country. And it matters in terms of geo-politics.
I have been bemused by the mealy-mouthed approach of the BBC to this conflict, referring to AhmediNajad as the "winner". Seumas Milne has a literally incredible piece in the Guardian today saying "The turmoil in Tehran reflects a refusal to accept Amadinejad is popular"
WTF is going on?
Here is a clue: Chavez backs AhmediNajad.
Mad Mel Phillips takes up the Hamas story.
These guys are getting fell in, like well trained but lobotomised squaddies. "Leftists over here, rightists over there. You there! what do you think you're doing? Thinking? Your not paid to think, now get in line, left or right, which is it to be?"
This simple, black-white, dialectical approach to political problems is widespread but not true or helpful. "My enemy's enemy is my friend" might be a handy maxim in a hand to hand conflict situation, but is not a useful cognitive tool for understanding political systems.
Let's look again. There is evidence that AhmadiNajad stole the election, just like George "Idiot" Bush and all the rest of the electoral cheats. There is a struggle taking place in Iran between democracy and authoritarianism. It is vital that we do all we can to help democracy, because this will enhance democracy across the world. Anyone who beats up peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators is to be condemned, so if Hamas or Hezbollah are indeed doing that, they are undermining the cause of the Palestinian people in the eyes of the world.
Because I am prepared to believe that Hamas agents are acting with criminal stupidity in Iran does not mean that I back Israel's acts of criminal stupidity in Gaza with Operation Cast Lead.
"We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government,
nor are we for this party nor against the other but we are
for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom,
that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness,
righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with
God, and with one another, that these things may abound."
(Edward Burroughs, 1659 - from 'Quaker Faith and Practice')