You would think, would you not, that the Syrian army, infamous for its large-scale 'renovation' of the rebellious city of Hama in 1982, would have little need of assistance from Iranian or Hezbollah forces to put down a mass protest? But no, such nefarious elements have indeed been spotted - or so it is claimed:
SBS's World News last night had Al-Jazeera's Anita McNaught reporting that "[Syrian refugee] accounts [of Syrian army massacres in Jisr ash-Shugour] bolster numerous reports of both army mutinies and Iranian involvement in the Syrian crackdown." (Witnesses recount destruction in Syria hotbed)
This was followed by footage of a young man, described as a "former Syrian soldier," saying, "I saw Iranians and Hezbollah members giving us orders to shoot. Those who did not obey were shot immediately in the back. All the soldiers who were killed were hit in the back of the neck. We used to try to fire in the air so as not to kill protesters. Five of my colleagues refused to shoot. They were shot in the back and killed."
It would seem here that, in the words of Yogi Berra, it's deja vu all over again, because weren't Hezbollah and Hamas alleged to have been helping Iran's Revolutionary Guards put down street protests in Tehran in 2009? (See my 23/6/09 post Hezbikies Ho!)
How could it be that the Iranians, now allegedly helping the Syrian army do its dirty work, were back then in need of outside help themselves?
The latest such claim has correctly elicited the following response from the Angry Arab:
"Clearly, Saudi media are following an Israeli propaganda script. Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi state media are now repeating a story that members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard and Hizbullah are involved in shooting at protesters in Syria. Why? Why would the Syrian army need help from Iran? I mean, is there a shortage of people in the Syrian security services willing to shoot people? What would a handful of Iranians or Hizbullah fighters, trained to fight Israel, bring to the festival of repression in Syria? This is very much a typical Mossad lie. Have you forgotten that Mossad liars claimed in 2006 that they found the bodies of 3 Iranian revolutionary guards but then failed to produce them? We are used to Israeli lies. The Syrian Muslim Brothers are a tool not just of Saudi Arabia, but of Israel too. Make no mistake about it." (13/6/11)
But this kind of propaganda trope - where national resistance forces allegedly pop up with guns blazing, or worse, far from their home turf, and, ever so conveniently, blacken their own names in the process - was doing the rounds long before 2006, as this extract from a 1980 essay, Iran & the US Press, by Edward Said in Columbia Journalism Review makes clear:
"Another method [to incriminate 'Islam'] was to suggest invisible lines connecting various other Middle Eastern things to Iranian Islam, then to damn them together, implicitly or explicitly, depending on the case... Much of the flamboyant use of suggestion originated in a small front-page item by Daniel B Drooz in The Atlantic Constitution on November 8 , in which it was alleged that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was behind the [US] embassy takeover. His sources were authorities in 'diplomatic and European intelligence'. (Coming in a close second was his November 22 discovery that 'Where there are Shi'ites, there is trouble'.) A month later Goerge Ball stated gnomically in The Washington Post that 'there is some basis to believe that the whole operation is being orchestrated by well-trained Marxists'. Not to be outdone, CBS introduced its Evening News on December 12 with Martin Kalb from the State Department quoting (equally unnamed) 'diplomatic and intelligence experts' as affirming that Palestinian guerillas, Iranian extremists, and Islamic fundamentalists had cooperated at the embassy. The PLO men were the ones who had mined the compound, Kalb said; they were known to be inside, he went on sagely, by virtue of 'the sounds of Arabic' being heard from the embassy. (A brief report of Kalb's 'story' was carried the next day in the Los Angeles Times.) It remained for no less a personage than Hudson Institute expert Constantine Menges to argue exactly the same thesis first in The New Republic of December 15, then twice more on The MacNeil/Lehrer Report. No more evidence was given; it sufficed to conjure up the diabolism of communism in natural alliance with the devilish PLO and satanic Moslems."