This article appears in the Winter 2011 issue of Middle East Quarterly.
Seventeen months after the fraudulent June 12, 2009 presidential election, which threw the Islamic Republic into its worst political crisis since the 1979 revolution, and five months into the latest round of international sanctions against Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i is desperate to demonstrate that he is the legitimate supreme authority in Iran.
Hezbollah grew in strength in 2009 by entrenching itself further within Lebanon’s political structure and by building up its military capabilities. As a proxy of Iran, Hezbollah continued to receive support from Tehran and maintained a close relationship with Iranian political leadership.
Hugo Chávez's criminal activities, long the bane of his neighbors in the Americas, have now extended to Iran, where he is aiding that regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The U.S. policy of averting our eyes so as not to give him the attention he craves must change. The Obama administration needs to strengthen ties with the friends in the region, bring Chávez's partnerships with Iran to the attention of the United Nations (UN), and engage the Venezuelan people to confront the threat Chávez poses.