The US Administration's obsession with reviving the "peace process" between Israel and its Arab neighbors is deflecting attention from one of the main sources of instability in the Middle East: Iran.

The Iranian threat is real and imminent, and one that requires the US Administration to place it at the top of its list of priorities. Only isolating and weakening the Iranian regime will assist Arabs and Muslims who are interested in making peace with Israel.

The peace process is not going to isolate Iran. But Ahmadenijad and his friends are likely to isolate the peace process if they are allowed to pursue their campaign against moderate Arabs and Muslims.

For the past two decades, the Iranians have been playing a very negative role in that part of the world. Their ultimate goal has been -and remains - to "export" the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini to as many Arab and Islamic countries as possible.

To achieve their goal, Iran's leaders have been doing their utmost to overthrow or undermine US-backed "moderate" Arab and Islamic regimes in the region.

Had it not been for the massive support of Iran, Hamas would not have been able to stage a coup against President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip about two years ago.

Abbas and his regime are viewed by the Iranians as pawns in the hands of the Americans and Israelis and, consequently, an obstacle to their attempts to spread their radical Islamist ideology to the region.

Thanks to the financial assistance from Iran, Hamas has managed to maintain a tight grip on the Gaza Strip, an area which has been transformed into an independent mini-state run by armed gangsters and militiamen.

Moreover, Hamas would not have been able to launch thousands of rockets at Israel had not been for Iranian-supplied weapons.

Now the Iranians are trying to extend their control beyond the Gaza Strip. They have their eyes set on the West Bank, which is jointly controlled by Abbas loyalists and Israel.

Palestinian security officials say that in recent months they have uncovered several Iranian-backed Hamas cells in the West Bank that were plotting to topple Abbas's regime through a campaign of terrorism.

The Iranians, according to the security officials, have also succeeded in recruiting several members of Abbas's secular Fatah faction to the mission. Some of the Fatah operatives are said to have confessed to receiving huge sums of money from their Iranian handlers in Tehran, Beirut and Damascus.

Like the Gaza Strip, Beirut and Damascus are also playing host to representatives of the Iranian government who are actively working toward bringing about "regime change" in the Middle East.

In Syria, the Iranians are being aided by Bashar Assad's dictatorship, while in Lebanon they have long been operating through Hizbullah. With the help of Assad and Hizbullah, Iran was indirectly responsible for the last two wars in the region: the Lebanon war in 2006 and Israel's Operation Cast Lead offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

Last month, it transpired that the Iranians have shifted their attention to Egypt with the hope of undermining Hosni Mubarak's regime. According to the Egyptian government, members of several Iranian-backed Hizbullah cells that had infiltrated the country were planning a series of terror attacks against government institutions and tourist sites.

The Hizbullah cells were uncovered only months after the Shiite party's secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, urged the Egyptian army to stage a coup against Mubarak's regime, which he accused of "collusion" with Israel and the US.

The Jordanians have also been facing similar challenges from Iran. According to a senior Jordanian government official, the Iranians have lately been courting the kingdom's Muslim Brotherhood with the hope of turning the organization into another one of its proxies in the region. The Jordanians are also reported to have foiled numerous attempts by Hamas and other Palestinian groups to use the border with Israel to smuggle Iranian-supplied weapons to the West Bank.

Most of the countries in the Gulf region are worried about Iran's ongoing efforts to meddle in their internal affairs. These countries are also worried about Tehran's nuclear ambitions as much as Israel is, if not more.

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