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Ahmadinejad’s dubious Latin American friends

By Kees Bakhuijzen - posted Friday, 30 October 2009

In the October 19 issue, American weekly Newsweek published a small article on the strengthening friendship between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his Brazilian colleague Lula da Silva.

The Brazilian President not only defends Iran’s nuclear ambitions - Lula is convinced that they are peaceful - the article also quotes him as calling those Iranians who took to the streets en masse after the fraudulent June presidential election “losers”. Most telling however was Lula’s friendly slap on the back of Ahmadinejad, a little reminder that his words were more than pragmatic politics and that a bloc has been strengthening - this after Ahmadinejad had already built strong friendships with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez (who by the way also condemned the Iranian street protesters). Take notice USA!

To make matters even worse the Newsweek article also mentions Brazil’s most dubious record in recent UN resolutions on human rights abuses in North Korea, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Congo, as it refused to condemn these countries on their atrocious treatment of their own citizens.


For now it doesn’t look like the US change in administration has changed anything. In their “official” protests - always beware of the word “protest” when it is backed by a government - the Iranians still shout their chant “death to America” (and Israel - of course), and in their all-consuming anti-Americanism, leftist Latin American leaders will build friendships with the most abject dictatorships, as long as they hate the US.

Of course it helps that Iran has pumped millions of dollars into the Cuban economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, and of course oil is never far away in Castro’s, Chavez’ and Lula’s dealings with Iran, but in their warm displays of friendship, the Latin American leaders clearly overstep accepted pragmatic boundaries of international politics.

The message to the world is clear: American arrogance as a “world leader” has its limits, and Iran is very successful in extending its support base in Latin America.

Just for those who have missed something over the past years and decades: the fascist Iranian regime has killed tens of thousands of its opponents, it has thousands of political prisoners, most of whom suffer torture, is hostile to women and homosexuals and anti-semitic to a sickening degree. Those who openly display friendship and admiration for this type of regime are just as abject as the regime itself.

The self-proclaimed “Islamic Republic” has an important objective: to become the leader of the so-called “non-aligned countries”, a chic name for what in reality is nothing but a biased, anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Western lobby group - just like the UN itself by the way. Tellingly, the non-alignment movement’s next summit will be held in Tehran in 2012.

But Iran wants more. Not only are there enough indications that the country’s true ambitions are nuclear weapons - the lies about a second uranium enrichment plant, the rhetoric about “wiping Israel off the map” - it also wants to export terror. Iran has supported Hezbollah for decades: during the recent street protests the regime’s opponents proclaimed loud and clear that they had enough of all the millions the regime has pumped into the Lebanese terrorist organization. And Iranian journalist and dissident Amir Taheri states in his latest book The Persian Night: Iran under the Khomeinist Revolution how Iran has set up Hezbollah branches in Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, to try and build support among the Shiite minorities in these countries.


Interestingly enough this happens as Argentina has been pushing Iran to hand over five former officials suspected of involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre that killed 85 people. One of the suspects is Ahmad Vahidi, who was recently appointed Defence Minister by Ahmadinejad.

Iran’s successful diplomatic actions in Latin America are very disturbing. The more the Iranian “friendships” grow, the less resistance they will find worldwide for their nuclear ambitions.

Anyone who still believes that these ambitions are “peaceful” is either a liar, extremely stupid or very naïve. Just as naïve as the many I’ve heard stating that one nuclear device for Iran can’t be a problem with America - and Israel - having such a vast range of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons for Iran will lead to a nuclear arms race in the highly volatile Middle East: the religious zealots in Tehran have repeatedly stated that they wish to use nuclear arms against Israel. That may be rhetoric; as such it will be highly effective as soon as it has the backing of real nuclear arms. But maybe even more worrying is that obtaining nuclear arms will strengthen the stronghold of the Iranian regime, with an immediate result of a rise in repression of the freedom-loving masses in Iran.

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About the Author

Kees Bakhuijzen is a Sydney-based freelance business and creative writer, translator, editor and proofreader. His articles have appeared in The Weekend Australian and several Dutch broadsheets. You can contact him by email:

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