Iran-Venezuela deal: Tehran and Moscow flex muscles in increasingly anti-Washington continent

By Bradley Bernard

EARLIER this month, the US Justice Department sought possession of a Venezuelan cargo jet that was grounded in Argentina because it was linked to an Iranian airline and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.

The plane had allegedly been transferred to Venezuela’s state-owned airline CONVIASA.

Eagle-eyed observers of Latin American politics – especially when it comes to the anti-Washington alliance gradually forming – were not surprised at the news. This week, Russia held joint military drills with both, prompting further alarm from some diplomatic observers.

Two months earlier, Iran and Venezuela signed a historic 20-year deal on cooperation within the energy and financial sectors.

The two sanction-hit nations have entered a “dependency” deal in favour of Tehran, according to Professor Daniel Hellinger of Webster University, especially in light of soaring energy prices.

He told Redaction Report: “When it comes to Venezuela, the loss of Russian oil from Western markets and pressure from Latin American countries flooded with Venezuelan refugees to soften sanctions on Venezuela (and Cuba) are balancing out domestic political concerns (e.g., Florida).

“I think it’s especially interesting to note the Iranian deal with Venezuela in many ways reflects the collapse of Venezuelan influence in global oil politics.

“Here we are 60 years after Venezuela led the Third World oil exporters in forming OPEC, and here now is Venezuela importing not just heavy crude but oil industry technology and capital from Iran. It’s a new kind of dependency.”

It may also prove to be as much a diplomatic deal as it is a resource one.

At the time of the deal, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said: “Venezuela has passed hard years but the determination of the people, the officials and the president of the country was that they should resist the sanctions.

“This is a good sign that proves to everyone that resistance will work and will force the enemy to retreat.”

As a renewed nuclear deal appears closer than ever after Donald Trump abandoned the JCPOA, the agreement between Tehran and Caracas shows how Iran is gaining global influence – and the upper hand in negotiations.

“Iran’s ability to directly, materially aid Venezuela and to widen trade and diplomatic relations throughout Latin America show that Iran’s hand in negotiations to revive the JCPOA is growing stronger, not weaker,” Professor Hellinger noted.

In June it was also reported that Iran had joined a ‘new G8’ alliance led by Russia.

Also consisting of the likes of China, India and Turkey, it was seen to be a response to the G7 after sanctions were slapped on Moscow by Western nations.

Professor Hellinger downplayed the significance of the proposed alliance, but suggested the “geostrategic” importance may be noted by the West.

He said: “I think the G8 has some possibility to offer Latin America alternative trade and investment options, but we should not overestimate the potential. The future of this new G8 depends much more on how much China wishes to challenge rather than integrate with the West.

“Russia has more geostrategic than economic interest in Latin America; China has the opposite, but it has significantly retreated in the last few years from its rapid expansion into the region.”

Featured Image: Hossein Zohrevand @ Wikimedia Commons  (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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