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Iran Report: October 14, 2002

14 October 2002, Volume 5, Number 37

AN EXPLANATION OF STUDENT FACTIONALISM. Recent reporting on the Office for Strengthening Unity (Daftar-i Tahkim-i Vahdat, DTV) occasionally includes references to minority and majority factions. The DTV as a whole consists of the individual Islamic students associations at the country's universities. The minority faction in the DTV is referred to as the "Neshast-i Shiraz," which is a more conservative grouping that prefers to continue operating within the political system and favors the reformist Second of Khordad movement associated with President Mohammad Khatami's May 1997 election. This grouping purports to derive its legitimacy from the early days of the revolution, and it seeks to protect the Islamic republic from what it sees as deviation. The majority faction, known as the "Neshast-i Allameh," is more radical. Frustrated by the slow pace of reform, it believes that student groups should be independent critics of the system. (On the emergence of these differences, see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 4 December 2000).

The splits were formalized in January-February 2002, when some 5-15 Islamic students associations met in Shiraz and elected the members of the Central Council of the Office for Fostering Unity (the minority faction). A few days later representatives of some 40-55 Islamic students associations met at Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran and elected members of the Central Council of the Office for Fostering Unity (the majority faction). The two groups held their annual meetings in September 2002, and the Central Council of the Office for Fostering Unity (it is not clear which faction) wrote to President Khatami and requested his assistance in resolving the factional problems, "Iran" reported on 9 September.

The Shiraz faction issued a statement that complained that people in government are pursuing partisan interests through the universities, "Entekhab" reported on 1 September. It continued: "Without considering the national interests and through expressing direct, open, and total support, they have gathered a group of their lackeys in Allameh University and forged the holy name of the Office for Fostering Unity to advance their partisan cause.... These individuals have open party ties and clearly have the unsparing support of a huge section of the government behind them."

This is not the first split within the DTV -- the DTV's original name was the Daftar-i Tahkim-i Vahdat-i Hozeh va Daneshgah (Office for Strengthening Unity of the Seminary and University). The "Mardomsalari" daily's editor, Said Haqi, alluded to this split in an interview he gave to the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on 14 September. Haqi referred to a "duality of the ideas held by theological schools and universities." He noted the great influence these two institutions have on society, and he suggested that their cooperation could further social progress. The lack of cooperation between universities and theological institutions, according to Haqi, could be attributed to their manipulation by political factions and also to state intervention in their activities. Haqi said that the best way to improve their cooperation is to create nonstate universities, because the theological schools' success could be attributed to the lack of state control. (Bill Samii, Siavash Ardalan)

KURDISH ACTIVIST EXECUTED IN URUMIYEH. Kurdish political activist Hamzah Qadiri was executed in the Urumiyeh prison on 7 October, according to an announcement from the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI). KDPI Secretary-General Khosrow Abdullahi told RFE/RL Persian Service correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari that Qadiri was sentenced to death for membership in and cooperation with the KDPI after a brief trial in which he did not have legal representation. Qadiri and several other KDPI members were arrested in 1997, Abdullahi said, and he added that currently 110 Kurds are imprisoned and 12 of them are awaiting execution of their death sentences. (Bill Samii)

AMERICAN EVANGELIST UPSETS IRANIANS AND MUSLIM WORLD. Christian fundamentalist Jerry Falwell said on CBS's "60 Minutes" program on 6 October: "I think Mohammed was a terrorist. He -- I read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and -- and -- non-Muslims, that he was a -- a violent man, a man of war." Falwell went on to claim that Mohammed's example was the opposite of Jesus'. Falwell described a conflict with Christians and Jews on one side and Muslims on the other side, and he said that the battle line was drawn more than a thousand years ago.

Falwell's comments have offended Muslims in Iran (and pretty much everywhere else). Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said during a 6 October meeting with Organization of the Islamic Conference Secretary-General Abdelouahed Belkeziz that Falwell's comments are part of the "American mass media's psychological and propaganda war which is conducted by the Zionists," IRNA reported. Grand Ayatollah Hussein Nuri-Hamedani said that Falwell's comments bordered on blasphemy, were the revival of ignorance, and they were part of a Zionist plot to cause rifts between Muslims and Christians. Nuri-Hamedani added that Muslim countries should end their relations with and oil exports to the U.S., Iranian state radio's external English-language service reported on 8 October.

Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani during the 11 October Friday prayers in Tehran also discussed Falwell's comments, although he was a bit sketchy on the details. "A television station has interviewed the pastor for 60 minutes who says such things to the people and insults a prophet who registered the greatest civilization in the history of mankind."

Falwell's comments, as well as those of two other fundamentalists -- Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham -- reveal a new American plot against Muslims, Hussein Shariatmadari wrote in the 8 October issue of "Kayhan," a daily affiliated with the supreme leader's office. Shariatmadari wrote, "They are prominent employees of the U.S. government and all three have official posts in the White House." Their comments therefore indicate the official White House position, which means it is the "most basic right" of any Muslim to attack American interests anywhere in the world. Shariatmadari recommended an oil boycott. He also wrote, "the three priests linked with the Zionists must be put to death because they have insulted Islam and the Prophet of God (peace unto him)."

A few hundred protestors gathered in front of the CBS office in New York City on 8 October, accused the network of spreading anti-Muslim prejudice, and shouted "Shame, Shame CBS!" Director of the Islamic Circle Of North America Naeem Baig said that Falwell's statement was "completely hateful." He continued, according to CBS: "Mohammed was a prophet. He was a man of peace. There is no incident in history where he acted like a terrorist." Falwell's comments caused disquiet in other parts of the Muslim world, too.

There was total shutdown of activity in Kashmir on 7 October, New Delhi's "Hindustan Times" reported, with riots in Srinigar and the closure of shops, banks, and schools. Jerusalem's Higher Islamic Commission on 7 October condemned Falwell's statement, the Palestinian Authority's official WAFA news agency reported. Its statement said that "this Zionised reverend and his likes" are prompted by "rancor and bigotry." In a 7 October roundtable program on Abu Dhabi TV, the chief editor of Cairo's "Al-Arabi" newspaper, Abdullah al-Sinawi, said that there is campaign against Islam. Falwell's statement, therefore, is a precursor to war. According to al-Sinawi, the statement means that the Prophet Mohammad is a terrorist and his followers are terrorists, so a strike against them is justified.

Karachi's "Ummat" -- an Urdu-language daily with Islamic fundamentalist leanings and an anti-U.S. stance -- said on 7 October that the anti-Muslim statements of "extremist Christian priests" are part of the anti-Muslim campaign that President George W. Bush launched after 11 September. The newspaper urged Muslim states to take Falwell's words seriously and to lodge a formal protest with the United States. Pakistan's second largest daily, Rawalpindi's Urdu-language "Nawa-i-Waqt," claimed in an 8 October editorial that in America, "every Muslim is spied upon 24 hours a day. Telephone calls, the Internet, e-mails, and credit cards are being monitored. They are also monitoring activities in mosques." The newspaper said that U.S. leaders plan to start a war against Muslims and President Bush has started the crusades.

Saudi Arabia's "Al-Watan" newspaper on 8 October called on President Bush to respond to Falwell's statement. The daily noted that after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, President Bush called for religious tolerance and he defended the American Muslim community. President Bush should reiterate his earlier rejection of "religious bigotry and extremism" and he should refute Falwell's comments, according to the Saudi daily. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad took a reasoned position regarding Falwell's comments: "They don't understand anything, they don't understand Islam." "I'm not going to accuse all Christians, only one person made such statement," he said according to the Bernama news agency, and he advised Muslims not to take the matter too seriously.

Underlining the Malaysian prime minister's advice, Falwell on 12 October apologized for his comments. "I sincerely apologize that certain statements of mine made during an interview for [the 6 October edition of] CBS's '60 Minutes' were hurtful to the feelings of many Muslims," he said according to Reuters. "I intended no disrespect to any sincere, law-abiding Muslim," (Bill Samii)

IRAN HOLDS ANTI-U.S. RALLIES... "God willing, tomorrow our people shall deliver a tooth-breaking blow to all the enemies of the Muslims and to those who intend to wage another crusade between Muslims and Christians," parliamentarian Hamid Reza Haji-Babai said on state radio on 10 October, as he invited his compatriots to participate in the next day's rallies condemning U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. An 8 October statement from the Council for Coordination of Islamic Propaganda had condemned the U.S. Congress and President Bush for this act and it urged the Iranian people to demonstrate after the Friday prayers, "Aftab-i Yazd" reported.

The White House had indicated its reluctance to sign the relevant legislation, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, in a statement issued on 30 September. That statement noted that the legislation contains some provisions that interfere with the president's foreign policy functions. The White House statement went on to say: "Section 214, concerning Jerusalem, impermissibly interferes with the president's constitutional authority to conduct the nation's foreign affairs and to supervise the unitary executive branch. Moreover, the purported direction in section 214 would, if construed as mandatory rather than advisory, impermissibly interfere with the president's constitutional authority to formulate the position of the United States, speak for the nation in international affairs, and determine the terms on which recognition is given to foreign states. U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem has not changed."

On the day of the rallies Iranian state radio commented that the U.S. is interfering in Islamic affairs and it intends to dominate Islamic countries, and by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel it is supporting Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. State radio also tried to explain why "the Zionists" want Jerusalem to be Israel's capital: "The Zionists are trying to extort money from the rich Jews so as to meet the cost of their domination in Palestine. They therefore put forward the issue of [Jerusalem] to provoke religious sentiments of the Jews." The commentary went on to say that having Jerusalem as the capital would prevent a possible attack by Islamic states, because they also see Jerusalem as a holy city.

During the 11 October Friday prayer sermon, Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani explained the meaning of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. He said, according to state radio, "It means that they do not care about 1.5 billion Muslims and the rest of the people in the world who also support the oppressed people of Palestine." The new Friday prayer leader in Isfahan, Ayatollah Yusef Tabatabai-Nejad, said, according to the 12 October "Aftab-i Yazd": "Through its support for the usurping regime of Israel, America has proved that it is a supporter for infidels and racists. And we cannot hold any talks with them until they behave like human beings."

About 5,000 people participated in the Tehran rally, according to "eyewitnesses" cited by Reuters. Asked to comment on the official rally beforehand, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi said, according to state television on 8 October: "This will also demonstrate the unity and solidarity of Islamic nations. It will definitely strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Islam and the Zionists." Shahrudi told the gathering of Friday prayer leaders that America and other enemies of the revolution are engaged in a cultural campaign against the revolution and its ideals. He added: "The [global] arrogance and its agents inside the country are trying to dilute the culture and values of our revolution. On the other hand, they are trying to exaggerate the importance of Western culture and they are also seeking to restore that way of thinking in our Islamic society." He accused America of hostility to the Muslim world.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also discussed the U.S. in a 9 October meeting with commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, families of martyrs, and victims of chemical warfare. He told the gathering, according to IRNA, that the U.S. has demonstrated its enmity to Islamic countries "who have grievances over the propaganda launched against Islam by the notorious Western propaganda machines and networks."

About 220 Iranian parliamentarians on 9 October issued a statement that urged the UN Security Council, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union to condemn and prevent from entering into effect U.S. legislation recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, IRNA reported. The legislators also called on the U.S. to apologize to the world and to restore calm everywhere. Mashhad parliamentarian Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Abu-Torabi-Fard said on state radio on 10 October that the rallies would be an expression of Iranians' support for the people of Palestine.

Tehran parliamentary representative Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, who heads the pro-Khatami Second of Khordad faction and is secretary of the "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conferences, also took exception with the recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. He termed it "a declaration of war and enmity with the world of Islam and the world community," "Hayat-i No" reported on 10 October. Mohtashami-Pur accused the U.S. of giving the "green light" to Israel. (Bill Samii)

...THAT DON'T HAVE COMPLETE SUPPORT. The anti-American sentiments expressed by leading figures in the Iranian regime do not have universal support, and sometimes such sentiments are manipulated for political reasons. Issa Saharkhiz, former director-general for the domestic press at the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance, said that the issue of Iran-America relations frequently is used as "an instrument for eliminating or weakening [a] rival and the stances they adopt are not based on their heartfelt beliefs or expert analyses but are aimed at pushing the rival out of the ring or fomenting domestic political intrigues," ISNA reported on 12 August. Mashhad parliamentary representative Ayatollah Mohammad Abai-Khorasani also does not seem to think that America is to blame for all of the country's problems. He said, "Kar va Kargar" reported on 22 July: "We should not be content with saying 'Death to America.' A healthy society must check to see if it has any shortcomings. If it does have shortcomings, where are their roots?" (Bill Samii)

IRANIAN PARLIAMENT LOOKS INTO FROZEN ASSETS. The Iranian legislature's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee on 8 October held a meeting with Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari and Central Bank of Iran Governor Mohsen Nurbakhsh to review issues relating to Iranian assets that are frozen in the United States, IRNA reported. These assets were frozen after 52 U.S. nationals were taken hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979. The Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in The Hague exists to arbitrate in these matters. The Algerian government served as the intermediary in subsequent Tehran-Washington discussions, and the "Algiers Declarations" (more formally, the General Declaration and the Claims Settlement Declaration) were agreed to on 19 January 1981 in order to resolve outstanding issues.

According to the General Declaration, Iran would release the hostages and in exchange the United States would restore the financial position of Iran, "in so far possible," to that which existed prior to the date of the U.S. freeze order (14 November 1979). The complicated legal and financial nature of such a restoration required a new means of adjudication. The Claims Settlement Declaration established the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal as the mechanism for bringing about such binding third-party arbitration, according to the tribunal's official website.

The tribunal's jurisdiction covers claims of U.S. nationals against Iran and of Iranian nationals against the U.S. that relate to debts, contracts, expropriations, or other measures affecting property rights, as well as some claims between U.S. and Iranian banking institutions. The tribunal also deals with some official claims between the two governments that relate to the purchase and sale of goods and services and disputes between the two governments concerning the interpretation or performance of the Algiers Declarations. The tribunal held its first meeting on 1 July 1981, and the first award is dated 28 April 1982. One of the most recent awards is dated 20 September 2001. Three of the tribunal's nine members are appointed by the Iranian government, three are appointed by the U.S. government, and these six people appoint three third-country members.

As required by the Algiers Declaration, the U.S. unfroze the Iranian assets, but many of the sanctions were reimposed later. The declaration did not provide for Iranian diplomatic property or bank accounts that are worth about $22 million, according to Ken Katzman's "U.S.-Iranian Relations: An Analytic Compendium of U.S. Policies, Laws, and Regulations" (December 1999). Katzman notes that Iranian complaints about "frozen assets" may relate to assets connected with the former shah and his family, or the hundreds of "foreign military sales" cases that were suspended at the time of the Iranian revolution. (Bill Samii)

IRANIAN LEGISLATIVE DEVELOPMENTS COULD HAVE LASTING IMPACT. A great deal of press attention has been focused lately on the two pieces of legislation introduced by the executive branch in September -- one that would increase the president's powers and another that would reduce those of the Guardians Council. Other items could have a lasting impact, too.

Shiraz parliamentary representative Jalil Sazgarnezhad called for reform of the Press Law, "Aftab-i Yazd" reported on 12 October. The last time parliament tried to do this, in August 2000, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote a letter to the legislature in which he warned that changing the law might allow "the enemies of Islam, the revolution, and the Islamic system" to take over or infiltrate the press, and the legislative debate was postponed indefinitely (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 7 August 2000). Sazgarnezhad suggested revival of the amended Press Law or introduction of a Press Law bill by the executive branch.

Tabriz parliamentarian Akbar Alami said on 9 October that a bill dealing with individual rights has been placed on the parliamentary agenda, IRNA reported. He said that the bill considers punishment of officials who violate an individual's freedom and privacy. One hundred and five parliamentarians have signed the draft bill and, given its urgency, debate would begin soon.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Tahmasb Mazaheri said on 18 September that the cabinet has drafted legislation dealing with foreign investment, with money laundering, and with value-added tax (VAT). Under the new legislation, foreigners could invest in all areas of the Iranian economy that are open to private Iranian investors, he said according to IRNA. The bill dealing with VAT, Mazaheri said, would serve as a substitute for the existing system of indirect taxation through duties and tariffs. People with low incomes and production centers would be exempt from the tax. The money-laundering bill, according to Mazaheri, is intended to control the amount of credit in circulation and to prevent underground economic activities.

Regardless of the potential impact of these legislative measures, the focus is on those relating to the presidency. Government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said during the 9 October weekly press conference that the president would not be able to fulfill his election promises without approval of the bills. The first item, which was introduced on 1 September, would reduce the Guardians Council's power to reject candidates for elected office ("approbatory supervision" or nizarat-i estisvabi; "approbatory" means that something is legally binding, in contrast with "advisory," which suggests that a choice is involved). The second item of legislation was introduced on 24 September. It would give the president the right to warn and even punish officials in the executive, legislative, or judicial branches. It also would empower a committee of experts chosen by the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary to overrule court verdicts.

Getting such controversial legislation approved will be difficult because of its potential to impinge on privileges enjoyed by hard-line institutions. Indeed, a joint committee of 23 people, consisting of members of the Legal and Judicial Affairs Committee, the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, the Social Affairs Committee, and the Article 90 Committee, is to examine the bill on presidential powers, "Toseh" reported on 30 September. It will have two months to consider the bill and then present it on the floor of the parliament. Ramezanzadeh, however, said at the 9 October press conference that there are no secret negotiations under way.

Moreover, the legislation probably will meet with theologically based arguments from the Guardians Council. That probably is why Vice President for Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Mohammad Ali Abtahi and two of President Khatami's clerical advisers, Hojatoleslams Mohammad Reza Tavassoli and Imam Jamarani, were sent to Qom to meet with several sources of emulation to discuss the bills. According to the 12 October "Aftab-i Yazd," the visitors from Tehran met with Grand Ayatollahs Hajj Sheikh Mohammad Fazel Movahedi-Lankarani, Yusef Jannati-Sanei, Nasser Makarem-Shirazi, Abdul-Karim Musavi-Tabrizi, Lotfollah Safi-Golpayegani, and Mohammad Hussein Vahid-Khorasani. (Bill Samii)

IRANIAN TERROR TIES DISPUTED. The 2 September statement by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres that Hizballah may destroy Lebanon and is creating provocations at Iran's orders, as reported by Jerusalem's Voice of Israel Network B, as well as late-September reports about the discovery of Palestinian Authority documents that link Iran with terrorism in Israel, renew the long-running dispute about the Tehran-Hizballah relationship and it also raises questions about Tehran's stance on the Palestinian intifada. At least one Israeli observer argues that Iran exerts some influence on Hizballah, but it does not issue commands to the Lebanese organization and many other factors affect the Hizballah decision-making process.

On 29 September the CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" program reported that Israeli intelligence officials had discovered in files confiscated from Yassir Arafat's compound in March and from prisoner interrogations that Iran and Iraq are financing and directing terrorism. Colonel Miri Eisen, the Israeli Defense Forces intelligence officer who oversees analysis of the documents, said that some of them show how Iran finances terrorist organizations that are active in Israel, and some of the captured terrorists admit to an Iranian connection. Eisen said, "We have been interrogating hundreds, thousands of Palestinians from April of this year, and talking to them, we've found some that have been trained in Iran." Eisen added that in October 2001 Iran told a meeting of terrorist groups that you "must not allow a calming down at this period...carry out suicide attacks against Israeli targets in Gaza, in the West Bank, and inside Israel."

Paris's "Le Figaro" on 30 September also carried a report about the documents that show Iranian support for Palestinian terrorism. Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hizballah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, and several other terrorist organizations are dependent on Iran and Syria, according to "Le Figaro," and "Iran supplied the radical Islamist ideology, major financial support, and weapons (as was demonstrated in the Karine-A affair). Iran also places Palestinian Islamist organizations and the Lebanese Hizballah at the disposal of the intifada." Iran contributed $400,000 to Hamas's Izzidin al-Qasem units and another $700,000 to Islamists that oppose the Palestinian Authority. The "Le Figaro" report discussed the October 2001 terrorist meeting and Iranian instructions for the participants to launch suicide attacks, but it also says that PIJ Secretary-General Ramadan Abdallah Shallah received instructions not to carry out any attacks so a parallel between the PIJ and Al-Qaeda could be avoided.

Major General Benny Gantz, who heads Israel's Northern Command, said on CBS's "60 Minutes" that Iran funds, equips, trains, and directs Hizballah. Gantz added that Iranian personnel are active along the Israel-Lebanon border. He said, "A few weeks ago we had Iranian patrols, you know like supervisors or experts, that came with Hizballah and patrolled the entire area from the mountain to the ocean, along the border."

The participation in a 27 September Hizballah rally by Iranian parliamentarian Ali Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, who helped create Hizballah and who was secretary of the April 2001 and June 2002 "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conferences in Tehran, may contribute to such concerns. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Sadr visited Lebanon and Syria in early September, and he met with Hizballah Secretary-General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah. Sadr told his host, Beirut's "Al-Nahar" reported on 4 September, "The resistance has the right to continue its struggle to remove the occupation in all its forms."

The Iranian ambassador to Beirut, Masud Edrisi, on 7 October met with Lebanese deputy speaker Abdolamir Qablan, according to IRNA. In addition to having served on Lebanon's Supreme Shia Council, Qablan participated in the April 2001 "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conference in Tehran.

It would not be accurate to say that Tehran and Hizballah have a straightforward patron-client relationship, however, "Haaretz" correspondent Daniel Sobelman writes in the August issue of "Strategic Assessment," a publication produced by Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. Hizballah also must react to domestic Lebanese political pressures. Sobelman cites as an example Iranian Foreign Minister Kharrazi's encouragement in April 2002 of Hizballah self-restraint so the Israelis would not have a pretext for an attack, which coincided with an internal Lebanese "chorus of opposition" that began when the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon and which reflected fear of Israeli retaliatory strikes. Sobelman writes, "[Hizballah] presumably takes into account certain elements of power when deciding whether to act, the most prominent of them being Lebanon, Syria, and Iran."

Tehran's stance, and especially Kharrazi's call for restraint, led to confusion in Hizballah. Yet Tehran's position reflects politics in Iran, where reformist forces fear that Hizballah activities could have an adverse impact on Iranian interests, while at the same time conservatives have an ideological stake in confronting Israel. Sobelman notes that Hizballah's presence as a serious force in the Lebanese body politic is the greatest success in Iran's effort to export the revolution. If regional tensions escalate, according to Sobelman, "Hizballah -- Iran's successful initiative in Lebanon and its foothold within the Shiite population -- would probably suffer a powerful Israeli blow. Moreover, Iran would find itself in danger for having instigated a military escalation in the post-11 September era, and a responsibility of this nature could have tremendous negative repercussions."

Jeffrey Goldberg also writes in the 14 and 21 October issues of "The New Yorker" about Hizballah's relationship with Iran and Syria. Goldberg believes that Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon and it is Hizballah's patron. Iran gives Hizballah support, inspiration, financial aid, and weapons, according to Goldberg, but it remains unclear if Iran and Syria control Hizballah completely or if it acts on its own. (Bill Samii)