"Either directly or through proxies, they are constantly trying to influence events. They have a very active diplomatic foreign policy outreach," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told lawmakers at a Congressional hearing.
"We know that, through their proxy, Hezbollah and Lebanon, they are using Hezbollah -- which is a political party with an armed wing to communicate with counterparts in Egypt, in Hamas who then, in turn, communicate with counterparts in Egypt.
We know that they are reaching out to the opposition in Bahrain. We know that the Iranians are very much involved in the opposition movements in Yemen," she said.
Clinton said the US is delivering on the aid that these countries are seeking without looking as though the Americans are trying to take over their revolution is the challenge.
You know, they don''t have a lot of friends, but they're trying to curry more friends. So it's a constant effort on our part.
I have to have the resources and the flexibility to be able to move people around and try to figure out the best way for us to be successful," she said.
We were also not only conscious of but advised by people from within and outside of Iran that it was very important for them not to be seen as though they were in any way directed by, affiliated with the US, Clinton added. That this needed to be viewed as an indigenous Iranian movement, she said.
"I think we struck the right balance. But obviously, what we have seen in the year and a half or so since is the brutality of the Iranian regime; its absolute commitment to repressing any kind of opposition.
And I have been upping, certainly, you know, my rhetoric. We have under the legislation passed by the Congress the ability to designate human rights abusers. We've been using that very dramatically," she said.
Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee said that in many ways it's hard to see how the government of Iran doesn't come out stronger as a result of all this upheaval, and that concerns everybody here.
"I think the US should be a strong voice for people living under repressive, corrupt regimes who are demanding the freedoms we often take for granted. The support we need in countering terrorism around the world," Leahy said.