There are 21 reported deaths from the protests that started last Thursday in Iran. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Iran’s “enemies”
Other Iranian officials had blamed “foreign agents” and an online “proxy war” waged by the US, the UK and Saudi Arabia for the violence.
Khamenei’s remarks followed more deadly violence on Monday, in which nine people were killed, including seven protesters, a member of a pro-government militia and a policeman. Twelve others were killed over the weekend as the protests intensified.
For years Iran has targeted Latin America for recruitment,
Iranian intelligence and military efforts to recruit young men in Peru, train them in Iran, and return them to Peru. A Hezbollah movement has now been established in the country.
. . .
a former Iranian official with knowledge of the country’s terror network who claimed that “more than 40,000 of the regime’s security, intelligence and propaganda forces” have been successfully placed in the region. According to another source cited in the article, the Quds Force has established command and control centers in two Latin American countries.
Last November, Iran promised to send warships to the Gulf of Mexico
Iran will likely use the warships’ visit to South America to advance its relationship with Venezuela, a US adversary, the outlet reported.
Seven years ago I was posting on Iran-Venezuela ties. Hezbollah and Iran have continued their expansion in our hemisphere (emphasis added)
Overall, Latin America, Central America, and the Caribbean offer Iran and Hezbollah fertile territory to build relations, bolster economic development and spread their ideology. Their efforts are made easier by governments such as Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador, whose hostility to U.S. interests manifest as non-cooperation on U.S. counterterror and defense partnerships. The Iranian regime also associates with the Bolivarian Alliance of the Countries of Our America (ALBA), a group created by Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, which resists the United States through political and economic means.
What is perhaps the most worrisome tactic of Iran and Hezbollah is the use of seemingly innocuous acts of diplomacy to obscure drug smuggling and money laundering. According to the U.S. government, Iran has relied on Latin America to evade sanctions by signing economic and security agreements in order to create a network of diplomatic and economic relationships.
According to Infobae, Lebanon-based Hezbollah generates at least $10million/year from drugs and weapons trafficking, but Hezbollah’s total take may be much larger at the Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay Tri-Border Area (TBA).
Venezuela – going back to the Aeroterror flights days – continues to be on top of Iran’s list, granting Iranian military firms large tracts of isolated land to develop missile technology.
Venezuela’s Vice President, Tareck El Aissami, has allegedly issued passports to members of Hamas and Hezbollah.
This means members of the two organizations, as well as drug lords from narco-terror groups such as FARC, not only coordinate and work together, but also are awarded state sponsorship from the highest levels of government
While this took place, the Obama administration allegedly covered up for Hezbollah in Latin America; They killed a probe of the terror group to get the Iran deal. According to Josh Meyer’s extensive report,
As a result, some Hezbollah operatives were not pursued via arrests, indictments, or Treasury designations that would have blocked their access to U.S. financial markets, according to Bauer, a career Treasury official, who served briefly in its Office of Terrorist Financing as a senior policy adviser for Iran before leaving in late 2015. And other “Hezbollah facilitators”arrested in France, Colombia, Lithuania have not been extradited — or indicted — in the U.S., she wrote.
Whether Iran and Hezbollah use the region to circumvent sanctions, traffic drugs, launder money or plan future attacks, there is a real and growing threat.
Will the protests in Iran have any effect on this? Only if there’s regime change.
But Iranian expansion in the Americas continues to be one of the ignored stories of the decade.