Chavez's illness, the Iranian government might itself wish to consider
whether, when it comes to Latin America, putting all their eggs in one
Venezuelan basket was a wise move.
Though Iran has close
political relations with the governments of Ecuador, Bolivia, and
Nicaragua, their bridge, champion, and biggest lobbyist in all these
countries has been Hugo Chavez. If it weren't for him, many of them
might have already reduced their relations with the Islamic Republic.
diplomats love a good chat, and are excellent at praising and signing
agreements. But when it comes to delivering on those agreements, their
performance has been not been so good, to say the least. Little in the
way of pledged foreign aid, for example, ever manages to come through.
Nicaragua, which once looked to be a new close Iranian ally, provides a good example. After all the hype
over Iran's supposed plans for a massive embassy in Managua, very
little actually happened. Iran's embassy in Mangua is still small, much
like its aid and presence.
It's not just the Nicaraguans who
have a right to be disappointed. Iranians too, especially those who are
against Iran's current foreign policy in Latin America. Nicaragua is a
lightweight in global politics and economics, giving Iran little in
return for its patronage. For years, the Ortega government has shrugged
off Iran's demand to repay its $164 million debt to Iran, which his government accumulated in 1986.
illness, and the possibility that other Latin American countries could
start questioning their relations with Iran, could help explain why the
Iranian foreign Minister recently offered
"constructive" dialogue with the Argentinean government. The proposed
subject of the talks would be the 1994 bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish
community center, allegedly with Iranian involvement. The incident has
been a major obstacle between the two nations.
Iran may be
hoping that by building better relations with Argentina it might be able
to diversify its Latin American relations away from Venezuela.
Iran is also hoping that this new move will improve its badly tarnished image on terrorism. The country also hosted its own anti-terror conference in Tehran in late June.
government of Argentina's response to this outreach was perhaps cooler
than Iran had hoped. "If the Iranians wanted to cooperate, what they
needed to do was to turn over to the Argentine authorities those accused
of the attack", stated former Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who had investigated the case and accused Iran of being behind the attack.
terms of the potential and probability to improve relations with
Argentina, Iran's questionable performance in delivering on promises to
Latin American countries is likely to push the Argentineans away from
If Iran's poor record doesn't push Argentina away, its reference to the bombing investigations as "misguided" probably will. That this is an election year in Argentina makes this matter even more sensitive.