It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
Iran is key to this distinction. Its proxies boast the official backing of a wealthy, nearly nuclear patron. Iran's support is financial; U.S. officials now estimate that Tehran "has a nine-digit line item in its budget for support to terrorist organizations." It is also operational, from a deepening Iranian strategic footprint in the Palestinian territories to the provision of arms and training to thousands of Shi'a in Iraq. Perhaps most significant, however, is the military bulwark that the Iranian regime can offer to its terrorist affiliates against external aggression. A glimpse of this potential was on display back in 2004 when, as part of the deepening strategic ties between their two countries, Iran formally committed to defending Syria in the event of hostilities — a commitment that the Islamic Republic subsequently extended to Lebanon and Hizballah as well. Given Iran's very public atomic advances, this strategic umbrella could soon be nuclear, providing Iranian affiliates far greater freedom of action than ever before.