What you have is a series of armed groups sponsored by one side or the other battling it out, so the sides use proxies to fight each other, a common tactic used by the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War as well. (Give us the rationale. Is it about Iraq? Is it about the nuclear program in Iran?) It's about who will dominate the new order in the Middle East. (So who are the parties here?) There's a bunch of Kurdish groups fighting Iran, a group known as PKK known for fighting the Turkish government as well. The Kurds feel as if their rights aren't respected in Iraq. In the southwest of Iran you have various Arab-Iranian groups fighting against the Iranian government and using bombing tactics. They also view themselves an oppressed minority, and are somewhat of separatists. (Is there evidence that Washington is funding these groups?) I think there is some evidence, but nothing conclusive. The Iranian government claims it has some intelligence to support this notion. But these groups give hints or allegations that they're supported by the US. (What has the US said about this?) They've declined to talk about it, but they say they do not support any of these groups. (As we step back and look at Iranian-US relations, Secretary of State Gates said the chance for a larger fight between the nations is very low. Is that a commonly held belief?) No, not at allï¿½these proxy wars are seen as a hot risk for a war between Iran and the US.