Iran and Latin America: What’s the Connection? What’s the Plan?
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What are Iran’s intentions in Latin America? Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rapidly expanded relations with Latin America on every front: multiplied embassies, expanded business ventures, set up banks, mines and Farsi television stations, while secretive flights are said to transport terrorists and illicit goods between our Southern neighbors and the Middle East. Fears abound of the regional fulfillment of an Islamist jihad that would make our southern neighbors (and greatest source of immigrants, oil and drugs) into an alternate geopolitical theater of asymmetric operations and terrorist attacks to protect Iran’s interests in Hezbollah and Syria. And how does the cancer of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (Iran’s greatest regional ally) factor into all of this?
On October 11, 2012, the Foreign Policy Research Institute assembled a panel of experts to examine these and other questions, particularly in light of the presidential elections in both the United States and Venezuela.
A native Venezuelan with a doctorate from Columbia University, Dr. Vanessa Neumann travels the globe speaking on Iran’s relationship with Latin America and is an advisor to the State and Defense Departments on the crime-terror pipelines linking the region to the Levant, as well as on asymmetric warfare.
Doug Farah, a former Washington Post foreign correspondent for more than two decades, is an expert of both Latin America and national security. Author of Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror (2004) and Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes and the Man Who Makes War Possible (2007), Mr. Farah is also the recipient of the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for Foreign Correspondence and the Maria Moor Cabot Prize by Columbia University for outstanding coverage of Latin America.
Ilan I. Berman is Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, a think tank in Washington, DC. He focuses on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation and is a widely-published and respected expert on Iranian influence in Latin America.