Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Should We Be Worried about Iran’s Moves in the Western Hemisphere?

| October 31st, 2014 | No Comments »
The National Interest

By Ilan Berman

Sometimes, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. Optimism may currently be running high in Washington that next month’s deadline for negotiations will yield some sort of durable deal over Iran’s nuclear program. But amid all of the diplomatic euphoria, one aspect of the Iranian challenge has received remarkably short shrift: its expanding presence and activities in our own hemisphere.

This is surprising, given the fact that the Islamic Republic’s capacity to threaten the U.S. homeland is comparatively well known. Back in October of 2011, U.S. law-enforcement agencies foiled a plot orchestrated by elements of Iran’s feared clerical army, the Revolutionary Guards, to kill Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the United States in a DC restaurant, using Mexico’s notorious Los Zetas cartel as a proxy.

The event jolted Congress awake to Iran’s growing presence in our own hemisphere. The result was the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act ... Read More

No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo

| October 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Miami Herald


There’s an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic considerations could influence Raúl Castro’s policy decisions and that Cuba’s difficult economic situation will force Cuba’s leader to move toward a market economy and closer ties to the United States.

Yes, despite economic difficulties, Castro does not seem ready to provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba normalization. He may release and exile some political prisoners. He may offer limited economic changes to tranquilize the Cuban population, but not major structural reforms that would open the Cuban economy. Cuba is not moving to a market economy. In Cuba, political considerations dictate economic decisions.

Raúl’s legitimacy is based on his closeness to Fidel Castro’s policies of economic centralization, control and opposition to U.S. policies. Raúl cannot reject Fidel’s legacy and move closer ... Read More

An “invisible” Iran in the Western hemisphere: America’s strategic blind spot

| October 22nd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Hill

By Rep. Jeff Duncan(R-S.C.)

Recently, we have seen a hydra of terrorist organizations wreak havoc around the world. ISIS continues to destabilize the Middle East and has ambitions to expand globally. Al Qaeda recently expanded its operations to India and had plans to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier on 9/11. Boko Haram kidnapped 50 more women in Nigeria and continues pursuing an Islamic caliphate in Africa. Only a year ago, Al Shabaab attacked Westgate Mall in Kenya, and Hezbollah attempted several assassinations around the world. Such an uptick in terrorism was reflected in an April report published by the State Department, which found terrorist attacks had increased 40 percent worldwide since 2013.

As the Obama administration stumbles its way toward a strategy to confront ISIS, some have suggested that the US could try to enlist help from Iran to combat this threat. Specifically, Secretary of State John Kerry said on September 19 ... Read More

AP Interview: Brazil’s Silva Wants Better US Ties

| September 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
The New York Times

By the Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO — Marina Silva, a front-running presidential candidate who grew up in the Amazon jungle and could become the first black to lead Brazil’s government, said Wednesday that if elected she’ll improve ties with the U.S. and strongly push for human rights in nations like Cuba.

She spoke exclusively to The Associated Press in her first interview with a foreign media outlet since being thrust into Brazil’s presidential campaign after her Socialist Party’s original candidate died in an Aug. 13 plane crash.

Silva, a former Amazon activist and environment minister who pushed policies that helped Brazil slash the rate at which it was destroying the jungle, has found herself in a dead-heat presidential race with President Dilma Rousseff. The incumbent represents the Workers Party, which Silva herself helped found three ... Read More


| June 4th, 2014 | No Comments »

By Victoria L. Henderson, Joseph M. Humire, Fernando D. Menéndez




For decades, the peaceful and virtually unguarded continental perimeter around North America was the pride of both Ottawa and Washington.  In a post-September 11th world, however, this cannot be taken for granted.   The long border between the United States and Canada enjoys the largest trade relationship in the world.[i]  The unhindered movement of goods, capital and labor across borders, however, can and has been, abused by international aggressors to exact violence on innocent civilians.


On September 11, 2001 a group of 19 men created havoc on the United States and, by extension, the rest of the Western world.  Armed with box cutters and just enough flight training to take down four commercial aircraft, these 19 men murdered nearly 3,000 civilians.   Similar attacks later took place in other relatively free societies such as England and Spain.[ii]


Five years later, in June 2006, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police ... Read More

Iranian MPs Leave Tehran for Tour of Latin America

| May 27th, 2014 | No Comments »
FARS News Agency TEHRAN (FNA)- A delegation of Iranian parliament members headed to Ecuador’s capital on Monday to meet the country’s parliament speaker among other high-ranking officials on the first leg of their bi-nation tour which will also take them to Colombia.

The Iran-Ecuador parliamentary friendship group presided by Hamid Reza Fouladgar left Tehran for Quito Monday morning.

The MPs are scheduled to meet high-ranking Ecuadorian officials, including the parliament speaker.

After their visit to Quito, the lawmakers will travel to Colombia on a two-day visit.

Earlier this month, Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujeri said Tehran lays emphasis on the deepening of relations with Latin nations, and called for holding a joint meeting of the parliamentary foreign policy commissions of ALBA members.

“Iran favors holding a joint meeting of the foreign policy commissions of the parliaments of ALBA members in Bolivia,” Boroujerdi said in a meeting with ALBA ambassadors to ... Read More

Argentine court strikes down ‘truth commission’ deal with Iran

| May 16th, 2014 | No Comments »
Article originally appeared in Reuters


(Reuters) – An Argentine Federal court on Thursday struck down an agreement between the South American country and Iran to jointly investigate the deadly 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center that local courts blamed on Tehran.

Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who oversaw an investigation of the AMIA center explosion that killed 85 people, had argued in his appeal to the court that in negotiating the 2013 deal with Iran, the executive branch had overstepped into areas reserved for the judiciary.

Thursday’s ruling declared the agreement unconstitutional and ordered Argentina not to go ahead with it. The deal had been delayed anyway by Iranian reluctance to move forward in implementing it.

The government said it will appeal the ruling to Argentina’s Supreme Court.

“We have notified the government of Iran of our decision to appeal,” said Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman. “If the lower court’s ruling is allowed to stand, it would close a ... Read More

US will cut off anti-drug assistance to Ecuador: official

| May 8th, 2014 | No Comments »
From AFP

WASHINGTON: The United States will end decades of anti-drug trafficking assistance to Ecuador this month, pulling its staff from the INL office in the South American nation, a top official said Wednesday.

“I am quite prepared to acknowledge right now the INL section, which has been in Ecuador now for more than 30 years, is also going to close up shop,” Ambassador William Brownfield, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), told a congressional hearing.

He said the office staff would be out of Ecuador by the end of September. Brownfield did not say how many US staffers were in place there.

Brownfield said the move was a reflection of the level of cooperation the United States has right now from Ecuador.

Leftist economist President Rafael Correa, whom Washington has criticized for his links to Iran, Belarus and WikiLeaks figure Julian Assange — has acknowledged there is an atmosphere ... Read More

Iran Offers Economic Aid to Nicaragua

| April 29th, 2014 | No Comments »
FARS News Agency TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in a meeting with his Nicaraguan counterpart Samuel Santos Lopez voiced Tehran’s readiness to help Managua with economic aid in various fields of energy, agriculture and industry.

“Iran is ready for economic cooperation with Nicaragua, specially in agriculture, industry, energy and development of infrastructures,” Zarif said during the meeting here in Tehran on Monday.

The Nicaraguan foreign minister, for his part, explained Nicaragua’s economic capacities and his country’s achievements in the field, and said, “Nicaragua is interested in expanding mutual cooperation with Iran in different fields, specially in economy.”

Also, in a joint press conference following the meeting, Zarif called for a boost in Tehran-Managua economic exchanges and cooperation in a move to further reinvigorate the two states’ bilateral political ties.

“The extensive political relations between the two countries will be further reinforced with economic bonds,” Zarif said at the press conference.

The Iranian foreign minister underlined ... Read More

Ignoring our Venezuelan Friends of Freedom

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Joe Kauffman

By Joe Kaufman

It can be argued that, in 2009, had President Barack Obama aided the Iranians demonstrating against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs, there would be no need for talk of the possibility of a nuclear armed Iran today. Iran’s leaders had dedicated much of their existence to hatred of America, referring to the U.S. as “Satan” and supporting anti-U.S. terror. But instead of assisting those calling for regime change, Obama turned his back on the protesters and ignored their pleas.

This was not the case in other parts of the Middle East, where Obama announced his full support to rebels looking to overthrow their respective governments – in Egypt, Libya and Syria. Each of these revolutions, though, were led by Islamists, who unlike the overtly pro-U.S. Iranian demonstrators, have much enmity for the United States and her allies.

Now, in a reprise of his attitude toward Iran, President Obama has chosen ... Read More

Ignorando a nuestros amigos venezolanos

| March 28th, 2014 | No Comments »
Joe Kauffman

Por Joe Kaufman

Se puede argumentar que, en el 2009, si el presidente Barack Obama hubiera ofrecido ayuda a  los iraníes que se manifestaban contra Mahmoud Ahmadinejad y los mulá, no habría ninguna necesidad de hablar de la posibilidad de un Irán con armas nucleares en la actualidad. Los líderes de Irán han dedicado gran parte de su existencia a promover el odio hacia los Estados Unidos-refiriéndose a nuestro país como “Satanás” y apoyando a agrupaciones terroristas que buscan atacarnos. Pero en lugar de ayudar a aquellos que pedían un cambio de régimen, Obama les dio la espalda a los manifestantes y no hizo caso de sus súplicas.

Este no fue el caso en otras partes del Medio Oriente, donde Obama declaró su pleno apoyo a los rebeldes que buscaban derrocar a sus respectivos gobiernos, como en Egipto, Libia y Siria. Cada una de estas revoluciones, no obstante, fueron conducidas por islamistas, ... Read More

Southern Command: Venezuela on the brink of a catastrophe

| March 13th, 2014 | No Comments »
El Nuevo Herald



WASHINGTON – The Commander of the United States Southern Command, General John Kelly, testified Thursday that it is necessary that Venezuelans resolve the internal conflict before it gets out of control and violence escalates.

“It’s a situation that obviously is falling apart in front of us,” Kelly said during in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Unless there is some kind of miracle in which the opposition or Maduro’s government pull back, this will turn into a catastrophe in terms of the economy and democracy.”

To a question from Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Kelly expressed his hope that “somehow Venezuelans resolve this themselves, without [the situation] spiraling out of control with much more violence.”

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz asked if Southern Command may limit the possible Iranian and Cuban assistance to Caracas to “use cyber tools against Venezuelan citizens,” but Kelly did not answer the question ... Read More

Just how do Americans see Cuba?

| March 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
From the Los Angeles Times


The Washington-based think tank Atlantic Council released a poll last month that has been touted by many as marking an unprecedented shift in support for a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. Media outlets, including the L.A. Times, jumped on the bandwagon, citing the poll as evidence that Americans are now eager for engagement. But a closer look shows that many of the most consequential results of the poll are based on push-polling tactics.

Push polling is the craft of designing survey questions to shape and influence the results. In this case, several questions in the Atlantic Council Cuba poll appear to “push” respondents toward assuming a position against current U.S. policy.

Nothing about U.S. relations with Cuba is simple. The many facets of our estrangement span such a spectrum of interests and time that few have a clear understanding of the intricate web of current policy.

For example, despite the ... Read More

Navarrette: Violence in Venezuela draws little attention

| March 3rd, 2014 | No Comments »
The Houston Chronicle


We’ve seen this movie before. When people are brave enough to stand up for freedom against repressive governments intent on maintaining their grip on power, the process is usually messy – and often bloody. In between ducking batons and dodging bullets, they wait to see if the world cares what happens to them. They’re the little guy being beaten by a big guy, hoping that an even bigger guy comes to the rescue.

In Venezuela, for the last few weeks, blood has stained the streets of Caracas and other major cities. It started with massive student protests on Feb. 12 against the social and economic “crisis” plaguing the country – corruption, high crime rates, skyrocketing inflation, etc. – under a government they consider illegitimate. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded with violence, as if he were suppressing a coup attempt at all costs.

Former President Hugo Chavez was crazy. But what Maduro is ... Read More

Protesters in Venezuela, Ukraine turn to peer-to-peer messaging app

| February 25th, 2014 | No Comments »
From CNN


From Kiev to Caracas, protesters are taking their indignation to a walkie-talkie app, but some may be running into government roadblocks.

Zello allows smartphone users to send short voice messages from person to person or to a limited group of people. Some Ukrainians and Venezuelans have been using the app to organize their protests.

Broadcasting a message to the world on social networks like Twitter is not always ideal for many people in chaotic situations. Apps like Zello and WhatsApp facilitate private, peer-to-peer digital messaging.

Facebook’s $19 billion plan to purchase WhatsApp underscores the need that more than 450 million users have to send messages that aren’t broadcast for everyone to see.

Zello, which was founded in Russia and is now based in Texas, has been one of the most downloaded apps in Ukraine and Venezuela, but late last week, Venezuelans began complaining that the app stopped working inside the country — ... Read More

Hezbolá en las calles de Caracas?

| February 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
By Roger Noriega

Un hombre a quien el Departamento del Tesoro de EE.UU. ha designado como un operativo de la organización terrorista Hezbolá, aparentemente se ha trasladado de Siria a Venezuela en los últimos días en apoyo a la violenta represión del gobierno Venezolano contra los manifestantes estudiantiles . Ghazi Atef Nassereddine fue sancionado por el gobierno de los EE.UU. en 2008 por proporcionar apoyo logístico y financiero a Hezbolá.

Fuentes y documentos corroboran el papel de Nassereddine como representante de Hezbolá ante el régimen venezolano y como un colaborador cercano del presidente Nicolás Maduro. En los últimos años, se ha hecho pasar como un diplomático asignado a la embajada de Venezuela en Damasco, donde ha utilizado su posición para facilitar viajes y visas para muchas personas procedentes de Oriente Medio a Venezuela. Desde ese puesto, tuvo un acceso extraordinario a altos funcionarios de seguridad sirios que han hecho la guerra a los opositores ... Read More

Hezbollah in the streets of Caracas?

| February 20th, 2014 | No Comments »

A man whom the US Treasury Department has designated as an operative of the terrorist organization Hezbollah has relocated from the Syria war zone to Venezuela in recent days, apparently in support the government’s violent crackdown against student demonstrators. Ghazi Atef Nassereddine was sanctioned by the US government in 2008 for providing logistical and financial support to Hezbollah.

Sources and documents substantiate Nassereddine’s role as Hezbollah’s principal representative to the Venezuelan regime and a close collaborator of President Nicolás Maduro. In recent years, his official cover has been as a diplomat assigned to Venezuela’s embassy in Damascus, where he has used his position to facilitate travel for many persons from the Middle East to Venezuela. From that post, he had extraordinary access to senior Syrian security officials who have waged war on opponents of the Assad regime.

Two witnesses also have told me that Nassereddine worked personally to obtain Maduro’s approval of Hezbollah money ... Read More

The Darkest Hour Of Venezuelan Democracy

| February 18th, 2014 | No Comments »
World Crunch-01

If you must lie, you lie — any dictator will tell you that. The socialist regime forged by the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has now held power for 16 years, apparently using the procedures and rules of the democratic system.

It was defeated just once, in 2007 when voters rejected its proposed constitutional reforms, though it had no qualms then in threatening the victors. The late president called the results of the referendum a “shitty victory” for his opponents. Indeed months later, backed by the exceptional powers that parliament had given him — an Enabling Act — he instituted everything Venezuelans had rejected in their vote.

Is the popular uprising now spreading in Caracas the end of this reign? It is still too early to say. Chávez, his followers and the whole Chavista movement, have played with democracy in the most cavalier, shameless manner. They have falsified elections to the point of turning them into harmless, useless formalities. They have ... Read More

The Most Important Alliance You’ve Never Heard Of

| February 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
The Atlantic


In Venezuela, students have been killed while protesting against the government of Nicolás Maduro, who is jailing opposition leaders and just closed a television station that dared broadcast the demonstrations. Argentina is irresponsibly racing toward a dangerous economic cliff. The Brazilian economy is in recession and 2014 will mark its fourth consecutive year of subpar growth, as the country reels from its largest capital flight in more than 10 years.

Is a decade of progress in Latin America coming to an end? For some countries, surely. But not necessarily for the entire region. Four nations are developing an initiative that could add new dynamism to Latin America, redraw the economic map of the region, and boost its connections with the rest of the world—especially Asia. It could also offer neighboring countries a pragmatic alternative to the more political groupings dominated by Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Amid all the bad news in the region, the presidents of ... Read More

Venezuelan ‘Security Situation is Absolutely Out of Control’

| February 17th, 2014 | No Comments »
The Washington Free Beacon


Observers say Venezuela’s security situation is spiraling “absolutely out of control” as socialist President Nicolas Maduro continues to crack down on pro-democracy protesters who have taken to the streets to demand that he resign.

Protests in Venezuela entered their sixth day on Monday with students and other demonstrators braving violent attacks from state police and pro-Maduro militias, according to former and current U.S. officials.

Maduro has even employed Iranian-style paramilitary Basij militias in a bid to quell the violence, according to Roger Noriega, a former United States ambassador and assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs.

“They’ve used it to control the population and pretend this is not the state [using violence], but a confrontation between protesters,” he explained. “The reality is in addition to those motorized forces, they have militias and hundreds of thousands of people with arms. The security situation is absolutely out of control.”

The Obama ... Read More

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