Tatsuma Update 2:
It seems that in reaction to being relegated second in the Satans category, the U.S. House has decided to pass a resolution supporting the protesters and Obama is expected to endorse it, which will most likely lead to further delegitimization of the Reformist movement.
In other news, things are not rosy for the Basij and there are increasing signs that they are starting not only to lose ground, but to fear for their safety. There are many reports that most Basij forces are now hiding their identities with masks for fear of reprisal. There are websites being created featuring images and often identities of Basij who have been violently repressing students, calling for actin to be taken against those men.
I really am trying to cram the most relevant information and speculation only. Everything is updated as events unfold, especially the timeline and what will happen in the future. If you want to link this, here is the website, updated as the situation changes:
For those wondering, here is the current time in Iran
All twitter posts about the army being involved are false as I am writing this Warning, new twitter feeds are most likely government members trying to spread misinformation, ignore them! They have really stepped-up their efforts in the last day or so. Also, there is a handful of good twitter feeds, but please do not publicize their usernames, they are in enough danger as it is and they don't need more publiclity. Those in the know will c/p their entries. Major timeline overhaul, including what has unfolded in the last few hours.
Suppression of Dissent - The Players
Currently, there are either two or three maybe four groups who are suppressing the students on the ground that you'll read about throughout this thread:
1. The Basij
2. Ansar Hizbullah (which I will refer to as Ansar)
3. Lebanese Hizbullah (Unconfirmed but either probable or a persistent rumour. Der Spiegel, based on a Voice of America report, says that 5,000 Hizbullah fighters are currently in Iran masquerading as riot police, confirming the independent reports. Iran Press News has posted two photographs of men they claim are Hizbullah and Hamas mercenaries. Many different independent reports and video point that way. Even in the last days other independent twitter feeds have declared witnessing thugs beating on people while shouting in Arabic; I will refer to them as Hizbullah)
4. Lebanese Hamas (unconfirmed and doubtful. This rumour has been cropping up all day, with some of the most twitter feeds saying they had visual confirmation of Lebanese Hamas fighters along with Lebanese Hizbullah member. Take with a grain of salt, but it has been mentioned often enough, by sources generally always right, that it deserves of a mention here. Iran Press TV also claims to have posted a picture of Hamas mercenaries. I will refer to them as Hamas)
- The Basij are your regular paramilitary organization. They are the armed hand of the clerics. The Basij are a legal group, officially a student union, and are legally under direct orders of the Revolutionary Guard. Their main raison d'Ítre is to quell dissent. They are the ones who go and crack skulls, force people to participate in pro-regime demonstrations, and generally try to stop any demonstrations from even starting. They are located throughout the country, in every mosque, every university, every social club you can think of. They function in a way very similar to the brownshirts.
They were the ones who first started the crackdown after the election, but it wasn't enough. While they are violent and repressive, they are still Persian and attacking fellow citizens. A beating is one thing, mass killings another.
- Another group was working with them, whose members are even more extreme, is Ansar. There is a lot of cross-membership between the Basij and Ansar, though not all are members of the other group and vice-versa. The vast majority of Ansar are Persians (either Basij or ex-military), though a lot of Arab recruits come from Lebanon and train with them under supervision of the Revolutionary Guard. They are not functioning under a legal umbrella, they are considered a vigilante group, but they pledge loyalty directly to the Supreme Leader and most people believe that they are under his control. They are currently helping the Basij to control the riots, but due to the fact that they are Persians and in lower numbers than the Basij, they are not that active.
- The Lebanese Hizbullah is a direct offshoot (and under direct control) of the Iranian Hizbullah (itself under direct control of the Supreme Leader) and cooperates closely with Ansar though Ansar occupies itself only with Iran's domestic policies, while Hizbullah occupies itself only with Iran's foreign policy unless there is a crisis like right now. However, Hizbullah has been called to stop violent riots in Iran in the past.
(the following paragraph includes some speculation based on reports from ground zero, it is no confirmed, this is what was reported early on by various twitter feeds considered credible, so do not take this as anything but unconfirmed rumours) Hizbullah flew in a lot of their members in Iran, most likely a good deal even before the elections in case there were trouble. They are the ones who speak Arabs and are unleashing the biggest level of violence on the Persians so far. Another wave arrived recently and there is chatter that yet another wave of Hizbullah reinforcements are coming in from Lebanon as we speak. According to Iranians on the ground, they are the ones riding motorcycles, beating men women and children indiscriminately and firing live ammunitions at students.
- The Lebanese Hamas is a branch of Hamas set-up in Lebanon. Like Hamas in Gaza, Hamas in Lebanon is directly under the orders of the Hamas council of Damascus known as Majlis al-Shurah. While it is surprising to hear that they might be involved, and as I said take these reports with a grain of salt until we get more confirmations, it is not illogical either. Iran has become the main benefactor of Hamas in the last years, branching out from only supporting Islamic Jihad. They now provide Hamas with the bulk of their budget, with advanced weaponry and training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Not only do Hamas own them a lot, but if the Republic falls, Hamas finds itself in dire trouble. It is very likely that, at the call of Iran, the Majlis al-Shura would have decided to send fighters from their Lebanese Hamas branch along with Hizbullah fighters if it was requested of them.