Posted tagged ‘Iran – Latin America’

Iran Discusses Defense Ties with Serbia, Venezuela

April 27, 2017

Iran Discusses Defense Ties with Serbia, Venezuela,  Tasnim News Agency, April 26, 2017

(Please see also, America Should Be Ready, Venezuela Might Become the Next Syria. — DM)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran’s minister of defense, who is in Russia for the Moscow Conference on International Security, met his Serbian and Venezuelan counterparts for talks on closer defense cooperation.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan discussed regional and international issues in a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Zoran Djordjevic.

The two ministers also explored avenues for expansion of military and defense cooperation between Tehran and Belgrade.

Separately, Dehqan met Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez on the sidelines of the MCIS.

Discussing the past agreements between Tehran and Caracas, the two ministers also exchanged views about ways to promote bilateral military relations.

Dehqan, who is heading a military delegation in the trip to Moscow, on Wednesday delivered a speech to the conference, attended by 700 participants from 80 countries.

Counterterrorism and counterradicalism in the Middle East, security of information space, and security in Central Asia are in the spotlight of separate discussion sessions of the conference.

America Should Be Ready, Venezuela Might Become the Next Syria

April 24, 2017

America Should Be Ready, Venezuela Might Become the Next Syria, Town HallDavid Grantham, April 24, 2017

Making matters worse, this regime has allowed international criminal networks and terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, to thrive within the country’s borders. This permissive environment has thoroughly compromised the upper echelons of the Venezuelan government and allowed illicit behavior to permeate the economy and society.

Most important, the same actors in Russia and Iran that prevent Assad’s demise are the same players underwriting Venezuelan tyranny. Remember that Vice President Tareck El Aissami is Hezbollah’s go-to guy in the administration. Experts should not be fooled into thinking that geographic distance will dissuade Russia or Iran from intervening on Maduro’s behalf. Neither country will so easily cede such a strategic and lucrative relationship – one that each country has spent years cultivating.

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Said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Nazi buildup in Europe: “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.” The unwillingness to act when such action would have been simple and effective constitutes the “endless repetition of history,” he concluded.

Today, observers would rightly associate this statement with Syria. But Churchill did not make this proclamation so future generations would seek out examples that affirmed his logic. He made the statement so future generations would break that dreadful repetition. This is not just a quote of self reflection – it’s a call to action.

Syria is thoroughly out of hand and late remedies are now being applied. The cycle of historical inaction will not be broken in Syria. Pundits, politicians and military officials would be wise to stop reliving what could have been done there, and start looking at what can be done elsewhere. Therefore, the American government must determine the likelihood of Venezuela becoming another Syria – this time in the western hemisphere. The United States and its Latin American allies must then collectively decide whether to do anything about it.

In their quest for more and more power, Chavez and then Maduro made reliable access to basic necessities a virtual impossibility. Maduro then had the Supreme Court dissolve the Congress after the Venezuelan people stocked the legislature with opposition members through democratic elections. Although international outcry forced him to partially rescind that order, Maduro continues to issue tyrannical edicts that will have the same effect at a slower pace. Now the Maduro regime has armed loyalists to seek out and kill dissenters. Over twenty people have died in riots over the last few weeks.

This administration would rather starve its people than relinquish power. Maduro would rather dismantle government and assassinate opponents than keep the country viable. History tells us that such despotism and subsequent international inaction can lead to Assad-like levels of oppression.

Making matters worse, this regime has allowed international criminal networks and terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, to thrive within the country’s borders. This permissive environment has thoroughly compromised the upper echelons of the Venezuelan government and allowed illicit behavior to permeate the economy and society.

Most important, the same actors in Russia and Iran that prevent Assad’s demise are the same players underwriting Venezuelan tyranny. Remember that Vice President Tareck El Aissami is Hezbollah’s go-to guy in the administration. Experts should not be fooled into thinking that geographic distance will dissuade Russia or Iran from intervening on Maduro’s behalf. Neither country will so easily cede such a strategic and lucrative relationship – one that each country has spent years cultivating.

President Trump must be prepared for the possibility of a Syria in the western hemisphere. The administration has already taken steps to sanction high-level Venezuelan officials for their work with cartels and known terrorist organizations. But they must also be prepared for preemptive action:

  • Anticipate and be prepared for the possibility that Russia, Iran and/or Hezbollah will help Maduro crush dissent, covertly or otherwise. Do not be caught off guard when they block U.N. resolutions, cripple Maduro’s adversaries through cyber attacks, or, in an extreme situation, deploy military assets.
  • Consider how and where to erect safe zones because a failing state may create a refugee crisis in a region already plagued by economic and social instability.
  • Work with Latin American allies to demand a democratic resolution. Don’t wait for collapse to be spurred into action.

This is not a call for military intervention. It is merely a reminder that the arc of history bends toward inaction – something we often come to regret.

Trump’s Pick for DHS Secretary Warned About Iranian Infiltration of South America

December 7, 2016

Trump’s Pick for DHS Secretary Warned About Iranian Infiltration of South America, Washington Free Beacon, December 7, 2016

gestures with retired US Marine Corp General John Kelly Donald Trump prospective cabinet members at Trump International Golf Club, New Jersey, USA - 20 Nov 2016 (Rex Features via AP Images)

Trump gestures with retired US Marine Corp General John Kelly Donald Trump prospective cabinet members at Trump International Golf Club, New Jersey, USA – 20 Nov 2016 (Rex Features via AP Images)

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Department of Homeland Security has been warning for some time about Iranian influence along America’s southern border and in South America in another sign that the incoming administration is seeking to tackle the Islamic Republic’s terrorist footprint from its first days in office.

Retired Gen. John Kelly, a former commander of U.S. Southern Command, has been sounding the alarm about Iran’s efforts to counter U.S. influence in Central and South America, according to past testimony.

Kelly is expected to focus on this issue when he takes over DHS, which has been plagued by criticism about its failed attempts to seal the southern border under the Obama administration.

The selection follows a line of high-profile picks by Trump who are known for their outspoken criticism of Iran and the Obama administration’s diplomacy with the Islamic Republic.

Kelly, during his time as Southcom’s commander, informed Congress last year that Iran is bolstering its ties with Latin American countries in order to use the region as a base for operations.

“Over the last 15 years Iran has periodically sought closer ties with regional governments, albeit with mixed results,” Kelly said in testimony to Congress in March 2015. “Iranian legislators visited Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua to advocate for increased economic and diplomatic cooperation. Iran’s outreach is predicated on circumventing sanctions and countering U.S. influence.”

Iran is building “cultural centers” in these countries to build support for its radical ideology among local Muslim populations, according to Kelly.

“Iran has established more than 80 ‘cultural centers’ in a region with an extremely small Muslim population,” he said. “The purported purpose of these centers is to improve Iran’s image, promote Shi’a Islam, and increase Iran’s political influence in the region. As the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran’s involvement in the region and these cultural centers is a matter for concern, and its diplomatic, economic, and political engagement is closely monitored.”

Kelly has also warned that Hezbollah, a terror organization primarily funded by Iran, has been building support in Latin America. Kelly said terrorist organizations could exploit the porous southern border to infiltrate the United States.

“Members, supporters, and adherents of Islamic extremist groups are present in Latin America,” including Hezbollah, Kelly said in 2014.

Kelly described Iran’s presence in the region as “a matter for concern.”

Trump’s selection of Kelly is winning early support from congressional Republicans who have worked with the former commander.

“In my capacity as chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I have worked firsthand with Gen. Kelly on numerous Western Hemisphere security issues during his tenure as the head of the Southern Command,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), said in a statement. “He fully understands the threats from ISIS, Iran’s activities in South and Central America, as well as the risks America faces due to our porous southern border.”

“General Kelly has a wealth of experience and knowledge of the threats facing our country in the 21st Century, and I am confident he will help the president-elect form a robust strategy to protect America from radical Islamic extremism here at home, protecting American sovereignty and dealing with the numerous security issues here in the homeland,” Duncan said.

One source in direct contact with the Trump transition team told the Washington Free Beacon that Kelly brings direct experience with Iran’s infiltration of South America.

“General Kelly is an outstanding national security pick. It’s another sign the Trump administration knows exactly how Iran has been destabilizing countries and sowing terror across the globe,” the source said. “The Obama administration too often turned a blind eye to Iranian activities on U.S. soil, and even downplayed an Iranian terror plot to launch an attack in Washington, D.C. Clearly the Trump administration is signaling that it will do exactly the opposite, and will target Iranian aggression across all areas of national security.”