Iran's relationship with Syria gives it clout with a broad range of players. If Syria's regime collapses, so too could Iran's regional influence.
'We have clearly passed the Osama bin Laden era, and we are firmly into the Bouazizi era,' said one columnist, referring to the Tunisian man whose self-immolation sparked revolts across the Mideast.
In the wake of its disputed election, Iran faces diminished support from some friends and hardening opposition among foes.
The Islamist militants in Gaza may emerge as a symbol of defiance, much as Hezbollah did in its 2006 war with Israel.
Both sides are maneuvering for another ceasefire, and Israeli troops are not likely to invade the Gaza strip, say analysts.
Senator Obama is an unknown quantity as he tours the Middle East.