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Iran pumps iron in the Middle East

Through its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, Iran builds up its Shiite influence in the region.

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In the great Shiite-Sunni Muslim clash that cleaves the Middle East, score one for Iran's radical Shiite theocracy. Through its militant proxy, Hezbollah, Iran has shown it can be the real power in Lebanon. And it took only a few days to do it.

Last week, Shiite Hezbollah militants in Lebanon attacked supporters of the weak, pro-Western democracy, which grew out of the "Cedar Revolution" of 2005. The government is led by a Sunni, Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

Hezbollah routed its opponents, killing several dozen people and triggering an "oh no" fear that Lebanon was entering a sectarian civil war as potentially devastating as the one from 1975-90.

But civil war, apparently, is not what Hezbollah had in mind. Just an in-and-out coup to show its military superiority (courtesy of Iran and Syria) after the government declared Hezbollah's private telecommunications network illegal, and sacked a Hezbollah-friendly airport official. With its prowess, Hezbollah can now blackmail the government into giving it more political power.

The fighting has deeply shaken the Middle East's Sunni Arab governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which see it as Iran on the march in the region.

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