An unholy alliance is being quietly strengthened that has serious potential to threaten America’s interests closer to home than previously imagined.
The Jewish TV Channel reported that June 12, 2022 witnessed two seemingly separate events. The first was Argentina apparently confiscating an Iranian owned airplane connected with Venezuela. The second was the signing of a new pact between Iran and Venezuela.
Iran–Venezuela relations have strengthened substantially in recent years. “Iran and Venezuela are two friendly and united states which pave their ways to further progress and welfare for their nations”, according to President Rouhani. The two countries are contemporary strategic allies. This alliance initially gathered momentum during the regime of Chavez, the former president of Venezuela. In July 2006, Chávez paid a two-day visit to Iran when the government faced international criticism for continuing its nuclear program and backing Hezbollah guerrillas. In July 2006, Chávez pledged that Venezuela would “stay by Iran at any time and under any condition.”
Chavez said “We are with you and with Iran forever. As long as we remain united we will be able to defeat imperialism, but if we are divided they will push us aside.” In July 2006, Reuters reported that Chávez told a crowd at the University of Tehran, “If the U.S. succeeds in consolidating its dominance, then humankind has no future. Therefore, we have to save the humankind and put an end to the U.S.” The reports added that Chávez slashed out at Israel and labeled the 2006 Lebanon offensive as “fascist and terrorist.”
The pact survived the death of Chavez. In May 2020, Iran sent five oil tankers to Venezuela under sanctions of the U.S., because Venezuela’s oil refining industry collapsed because of under investment and mismanagement. They carried about 60 million gallons of Iranian gasoline. Because of U.S. sanctions against both countries, Presidents of both countries warned about U.S. attempts to block this fuel delivery. After these threats to disrupt Iranian fuel tankers heading for Venezuela, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to António Guterres to warn about the US move to send troops to the Caribbean to obstruct the fuel export.
Also Abbas Araghchi summoned Swiss ambassador as protector of US interests in Iran, urging him to convey Iran’s serious warning about any possible threats by the US against Iranian tankers.
Beyond the political-military sphere the two countries also pledged to work together academically in the commissioning of a new university program with a focus on teaching socialist principles and to promote discussion of “21st century socialism.”
The Russian Connection
Under President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela enjoyed warm relations with Russia. Much of this was through the sale of military equipment. In November 2008, both countries held a joint naval exercise in the Caribbean. Following Chavez’s two visits to Moscow in July and September 2008, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin arrived in Venezuela to pave the way for a third meeting within five months between their two presidents. This relationship flourished past the death of Chavez, and into recent times.
In February 2022, Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. The invasion received widespread international condemnation; President Maduro of Venezuala , however expressed his “strong support” for Russia in a phone call with Putin and condemned the sanctions Western nations imposed on Russia. According to CNBC, Russia’s “most prominent” Latin American relationship is with Venezuela. Conversely, Venezuela’s primary geopolitical ally is Russia.
The Chinese Connection
From the outset of his presidency, Hugo Chávez sought to distance himself from the United States and court other allies that could help him find alternative sources of trade, diplomatic and military relations. During the first year of his presidency, he visited China and would accumulate the greatest number of visits to China out of any other Latin-American leader during the same period (1999-2012.
While giving a speech at Beijing University, Chávez is reported to have stated that “the Bolivarian Revolution is rooted in the ideology of Communist China’s founder, Mao Zedong”. During that same visit, Chávez also proclaimed that Simon Bolivar was a “soul mate of Mao Zedong”.
As in the case of Iran and Russia, the foundations of Venezuela and China’s relationship has also strengthened into recent times. In January 2019, the opposition-majority National Assembly declared that Maduro’s re-election was invalid and declared its president, Juan Guaidó, to be acting president of the Venezuela. The US, Canada, and most of Western Europe and Latin America (including Brazil, Colombia, Argentina) recognized Guaidó as interim president. However, China and Russia have continued to voice support for Maduro and have accused of the US of interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs amid the ongoing turmoil Iran has also condemned US threats.
Of the $150 billion the Chinese Development Bank loaned to Latin America in the past 12 years, a third went to Venezuela. There was public addressed speculation during the last presidential election in America that the voting process that saw Joe Biden take the presidency was somehow connected to both Venezuela and China. This point is raised as internal politics in the United States could well serve to reawaken such allegations should the present alliance between Venezuela, Iran, China and Russia also bring Biden’s government into the equation.
This situation comes hard on the heels of the Summit of Americas conference, which has alienated many neighbors of the USA. While, more evidence of anything resembling a clear and present threat against American interests so close to its border is helpful, there is no mistaking the serious nature of the composition and common areas of interest that exist between these nations. It may well prove useful to the United States of America to make its public more aware of this threat while it’s still manageable.
Where Does That Leaves Us Today
June 12, 2022 witnessed two seemingly separate events. The first was Argentina apparently confiscating an Iranian owned airplane connected with Venezuela. The second was the signing of a new pact between Iran and Venezuela. While the former event remain unclear, what does appear to be a feasible assumption is that American interests are once more being threatened by this alliance, and Argentine could well have been leant upon to send a message to Venezuela warning the country against getting too ambitious.