Tuesday, Nov. 11th 2008

Latin America – Iran’s Next Target

Iran is making inroads in a host of Latin American countries, most of which have populist leaders who distrust the United States, writes John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism official, in the Los Angeles Times.

Venezuala, Paraguay, and Bolivia are cited by Kiriakou as countries eager to grow closer to Iran in opposition to the United States. Paraguay’s president, Fernando Lugo Mendez, for instance, named Hezbollah sympathizer and fundraiser Alejandro Hamed Franco as Paraguay’s new foreign minister. In Bolivia, Iran has invested $1.1 billion in Bolivia’s gas facilities. Iran has also agreed to produce Spanish-language programming for the Bolivian state television allowing Iran to supply propaganda directly to Bolivians.

Kiriakou argues that reversing Iranian influence in Latin America will require the United States to stop ignoring the region

Analysis:Mr. Kiriakou correctly details the slow but continuing invasion of Latin America by Iran and its proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah. And where Lebanese Hezbollah goes, so goes the IRGC. Iran’s expenditure of billions of dollars in Latin America will force the United States to make a similar if not larger investment. President-elect Obama’s stated desire to use diplomacy to deal with the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear power will bump up against his opposition to free trade, a key interest of Latin American countries. The failure of the Congress to approve the free trade agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration with Colombia signals to Latin American leaders that the United States is not serious about being a viable alternative to Iran’s radical and violent influences in the region.

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