GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Iranian Policy towards Latin America as a Counter-Measure against U.S. Hegemony
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper studies the strongest bilateral relationships between Iran and the Latin American states of Cuba, which seeks to improve its access to investment to counter its own U.S. sanctions; Venezuela, which perceives U.S. military imperialism in the region, as well as diplomatic pressure following U.S. warnings against becoming too closely involved with Iran; Bolivia, which could use Iranian assistance to nationalise its oil industry; Ecuador, which needs investment following default on its national debt; and Brazil which continues to focus on economics rather than politics in its bilateral relations with Iran.

Iran is under increasing pressure following the UN Security Council sanctions in 2010 and unilateral measures being taken by EU member states and the U.S. in 2011. It has forced Iran to continue to explore relations with Latin American states based on the pragmatic considerations of countering U.S. sanctions, improving access to markets and sourcing materials useful for its enrichment programme. Venezuela and Cuba were the only states (along with Syria) that voted against the resolution to refer Iran to the UN Security Council in 2006. Since that time, Ahmadinejad has toured Latin American states critical of U.S. foreign policy such as Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, which might participate in an economic and political axis with the aim of reducing U.S. dominance in the developing world.

The status of Hezbollah in Latin America as an Islamist terror group long associated with Iranian support is also studied. It has a number of activities in the ‘Tri-Border Region’ (the lawless area between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil) and is of particular relevance to the ongoing tensions between Iran and the U.S. Hezbollah’s 1992 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires and its attempts to case U.S. targets, such as embassies, in other capital cities is indicative of Iranian attempts to pressurise the U.S. in the same way that the U.S. has managed to encircle Iran through its incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, it is the development in the Iran – Venezuela relationship that is of particular relevance to its position against the U.S. Iran’s relationship with Venezuela is vital, having grown exponentially between 2001 and 2007. It is not only based on an ‘axis of annoyance’ and resistance to the U.S. but a fundamental and long term rationale of their respective positions (their ‘axis of oil’) in OPEC against the U.S. petrodollar. Both states have expressed their wish to trade oil in Euros and keep international prices high in order to bolster their respective positions at home.