July 21, 2006: Iran has spent over ten billion dollars to create allies of Syria, Hizbollah and some Iraqi political parties. Syria was an ally of convenience. Syria and Iraq used to be close allies, with both nations run by separate branches of the Baath party. But the two Baath party organizations could not agree who was senior, and a bitter split occurred. Shortly thereafter, when Iraq invaded Iran in 1980, Iran and Syria became allies of convenience. Without much oil, and ruled by a Shia minority, Syria needed all the help it could get. When the Cold War ended in 1991, Syria lost its source of cheap weapons. Threadbare and friendless, Syria is stuck with Iran, forced to do whatever Iran tells it to do. These days, the orders are mostly about helping support Hizbollah. This is a militant Shia organization founded in Lebanon, to defend Shia interests in the 1975-90 civil war. Although run by Lebanese Shia, it's Iranian money, and hundreds of Iranian advisors, that keep Hizbollah going. Hizbollah gets nearly all of its weapons from Iran, and would be much weaker without the hundred million dollars a year in Iranian aid it receives.
July 15, 2006: While Iran officially supports Hizbollah in the war with Israel, Iranian public opinion is mixed. It's no secret that Iran has given Hizbollah billions of dollars in aid, and much of that is now being destroyed by Israeli firepower. Many Iranians still live in poverty, and they are not happy with all the money spent, and apparently wasted, in south Lebanon.
July 13, 2006: Russia insists that any UN sanctions on Iran would not have any effect on existing Russian arms deals with Iran. Within the last year, Iran has bought nearly a billion dollars worth of Russian weapons.
A court in the southwestern province of Khuzestan has sentenced ten men, accused of organizing terrorist bombings last January, to death by hanging. Thousands of additional police and troops have kept things quiet in Khuzestan, but the majority of the population is still Arab, most of Iran's oil is still here, and the Arabs are still angry. To the north, government is still working to calm down hurt feelings among the Turkic Azeris, after some nasty comments about Azeris were published in state controlled media.