The ever-jovial Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is still making his tour of Latrine American capital cities.
We’ve been keeping an eye on him here at Babalu, even though it is difficult to find real news about his victory lap through the nether regions of this hemisphere. Most news reports simply parrot the propaganda spewed by Iran and the host country being visited by the laughing Zarif.
Ilan Berman at Foreign Affairs has been able to get below the surface, and to shed light on what is going on between Zarif and his hosts behind closed doors.
Nothing for us to laugh about, for sure. Here is an excerpt. Read the whole report HERE.
Iran and the New Monroe Doctrine.
On August 21, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif kicked off a six-nation tour of Latin America. The trip, which entailed visits to Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, was intended as a very public affirmation of Iran’s enduring investment in the Western Hemisphere.
“There are many fields for economic cooperation between Iran and these six countries, but the capacities have yet to be fully utilized,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, told state media ahead of the trip. Zarif’s visit, he said, was intended to correct this deficiency and elevate Iran’s economic cooperation with the region to “a whole new level.”
But Zarif’s choice of stopping points suggests that the trip is much more about geopolitics than it is about trade. With the notable exception of Chile, the nations that Iran’s foreign minister is courting are all in dire economic straits, struggling with high levels of inflation, rampant joblessness, and – in the case of Venezuela – a full-blown meltdown of the national economy. These countries thus hardly seem suited to be durable partners for Iran’s economy, which is itself struggling after years of multilateral sanctions.
Yet those same states are all members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), the anti-U.S. regional bloc that was convened by the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez in the early 2000s. Iran has been an ALBA observer nation for years, and has actively aided the bloc’s radical anti-Western strategic agenda.
Indeed, Zarif’s Latin American junket even coincided with the official opening of a new ALBA regional defense school in Bolivia’s industrial capital of Santa Cruz. The academy, the Spanish-language television channel Telesur reported, is intended to be an “anti-imperialist” project designed to combat U.S. influence in the region. It comes complete with “courses on a wide range of subjects meant to counter the U.S. imperialist presence in the developing world, including the Theory of Imperialism, Geopolitics of Natural Resources and Bolivian Social Structures.”
It is also a distinctly Iranian venture. Iran is known to have provided at least some of the seed money for the school’s construction, and no less than then-Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi presided over the school’s inauguration in May 2011 (causing a minor international incident in the process). Iran is now believed to be playing a role in training at the facility, suggesting the potential for collaboration between Iran and the region’s leftist radicals.