U.S.: Iran Active in Mideast Protests

Iran is secretly helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad put down pro-democracy demonstrations, and discussing aiding Shiite demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen, U.S. officials say. Iran has been providing Syria with equipment and training on suppressing protests, including advice on how to curtail and monitor text-messaging and Internet activity. They've also been sharing their experience in putting down the 2009 Green Revolution. "These guys know the best practice in this kind of situation—they've had lots of experience in this sphere," said a U.S. Defense official. The U.S. has also intercepted communications between Iranian officials about sending cash and weapons to Shiite opposition elements in Bahrain and Yemen. The debate still seems to be ongoing, though one official says they have intelligence showing Iran has already made small transfers of money and weapons to Bahrain. U.S. intelligence agencies have long been skeptical of Bahrain and Yemen's claims that Iran is meddling in their affairs, but last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. had evidence of Iranian interference in the region.