Iran is moving quickly to sponsor unity among the most radical elements of the Palestinian nationalist movement, following the death of Yasser Arafat. Radio Free Europe reports that some of the delegates officially representing Tehran in the November 12 funeral procession have long-standing ties to Palestinian terrorist groups. "Analysis: Iran Sends Terror-Group Supporters To Arafat's Funeral Procession,"
by Bill Samii, reports that one of Iran's delegates to Arafat's funeral is Hojatoleslam Ali-Akbar Mohtashami-Pur, founder of the Lebanese Hizballah while the Iranian ambassador to Damascus in the 1980s. In April 2001 and June 2002, Mohtashami-Pur organized "Support for the Palestinian Intifada" conferences, drawing representatives of Hizballah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine -- General Command, the Palestinian Authority, Al-Fatah, and Al-Fatah Uprising.
According to the Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA), "Mohtashami-Pur is expected to hold talks with representatives of a number of Palestinian movements while in Cairo."
Another of the representatives identified by ILNA, Hussein Sheikholeslam, was one of the "students" who held American diplomats and military personnel hostage from 1979 to 1981. Sheikholeslam was the coordinator of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps participation in Hizballah operations during the 1980s and Mohtashami-Pur's Foreign Ministry contact in connection to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Iran's official message of condolences, on the occasion of Arafat's death, was provided on November 11 by Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi, and reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency. Tehran adopted a belligerent tone. "Israel, which only understands the language of force and violence," declared Assefi, "is incapable of confronting the intifada and the anger of Palestinians." Assefi then called for unity among the Palestinian groups: "What is important now is that the Palestinian people understand the current sensitive situation and, by maintaining unity, they defuse the plots of the Zionist regime."
The calls for unity and continued violence against Israel have obvious and ominous implications for the subject of the discussions now occurring in Cairo between the representatives of Tehran and radical Palestinian groups.
Labels: Al-Fatah, Hezbollah, Iran, Palestinians, Radio Free Europe, Yassir Arafat