Friday, September 28, 2007

Iran and Venezuela Attempt to Halt U.S. Domination

Source: Financial Times, YNetNews, and Newsday

Last Thursday, Iranian President, Mohmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, made a visit to Venezuela to address the issue of the United States’ excessive strength and influence. Together, Iran and Venezuela account for approximately 20% of the oil cartel’s production. The Presidents came together to “reaffirm their ‘anti-imperialist’ cause when signing several energy accords that add more than 180 bilateral trade agreements worth more than $20bn.” Venezuela is one of the top five suppliers of crude oil in the U.S. market. Although many outsiders expressed disagreement, many Venezuelans are proud to have close ties to Iran. The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chávez, believes that this alliance between Iran and Venezuela could lead to a revolutionary path towards anti-sovereignty. President Chávez threatened to delay oil exports to the United States if the United States chose to invade Iran. In addition, President Chávez defends Iran’s development of nuclear energy (only for peaceful purposes). As a result of Venezuela’s pro-nuclear technology for Iran, the United States has been frantically lobbying against Venezuela’s membership in the Security Council.

Some are not surprised by this alliance. Analysts believe that this is not an economic alliance, but more so geopolitics. Gregory Wilpert, the author of a socialist movement book, believes that the Venezuelan President may be overstepping his boundaries by embracing the Iranian President. Wilpert acknowledges the importance of a strategic relationship, but disagrees with the personal friendship. Many analysts fear that their friendship may cause President Chávez’s focus to shift away from Latin American integration. In fact, the anti-U.S. domination and the Latin American integration initiatives seem to contradict one another. Chávez’s friendship with Ahmadi-Nejad may harm possible allies that Venezuela could be forming. One of the agreements between Iran and Venezuela include building two petrochemical complexes for approximately $1.4bn. In addition, the two governments together plan to create items like bricks, bicycles, and oil fields. Both Presidents signed an additional 11 accords for further prospects to work together in areas such as tourism, education, and mining.

Both Presidents have agreed on financing projects in other countries in order to stop United States domination. President Ahmadi-Nejad already has plans to visit Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. Nicaragua and Ecuador, oil-rich nations, have plans for a $2bn fund “to finance investments in Venezuela and Iran,” but apparently this money will also extend to other “friendly third countries” that are trying to separate from United States dependency. Although the Presidents have clearly expressed anti-United States views, they both expressed hope for “better relations” to Thomas Shannon, the head of the United States State Department’s Western Hemisphere affairs bureau. Chávez has not only created ties between Venezuela and Iran, but also Venezuela and Cuba. Chávez has pledged billions in helping Cuba in foreign aid.

Even though Venezuela may claim anti-United States domination, the country still sells most of their oil to the United States. The small Jewish community within Venezuela is outraged by this new brotherhood between Iran and Venezuela. The Jewish community disagrees with Iran’s advocacy of Israel’s destruction. The Jewish community is not the only group in fear. Washington fears the possible consequences of Venezuela and Iran’s agreements. Venezuela and Iran have been campaigning to start attaching “oil prices to the euro instead of the U.S. dollar.” Washington also fears that this new alliance could spread Islamist terrorists in Latin America. According to Newsday, “This spring, the White House stopped arms sales to Venezuela, accusing it of failing to cooperate on counterterrorism investigations.”

For Discussion:Is Venezuela’s President, Mr. Chávez, forgetting the differences between Iran and Venezuela because of his personal relationship with Iran’s President? How long will this bond last between the Presidents of Venezuela and Iran and will the end of that bond be volatile? How will the threat of Islamist terrorists in Latin America affect the United States?

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