Historical, religious and strategic differences have long set Iran apart in the Middle East, but the Iranian push to obtain a nuclear weapon has confirmed a suspicion shared in capitals from Cairo to Abu Dhabi that Tehran is out to become the region's unrivaled power. An increased Iranian influence would not only affect surrounding nations but also undermine America's ability to protect its Arab allies. Ahmadinejad's re-election is likely to have some neighboring leaders renewing their earlier warnings to Washington that Tehran must be contained at all costs.
But sounding that alarm too loudly is problematic. That's because most Arab nations are far less democratic than Iran. It's hard to criticize a flawed election when you don't hold any yourself.
In Iraq, leaders who have welcomed a degree of Iranian influence as a hedge to that of occupying American forces may now view the victory of nationalist forces in Tehran as more menacing, now that a U.S. withdrawal is on the way.