Russia, Iran, and Hizballah Expand Their Presence in Venezuela to Support Nicolas Maduro

The Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro—who has held on to the reins of power after his country’s national assembly declared Juan Guaidó the legitimate president in January—has turned to his longtime allies in Moscow and Tehran for support as domestic unrest increases. In moves strongly reminiscent of their efforts to prop up Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the two countries have sent arms, military advisers, and possibly troops to Venezuela. Jay Solomon writes:

Russia is believed to have deployed around 150 military and security personnel in Caracas in recent months. Iran has commenced weekly flights to Caracas, potentially to ferry military supplies to Maduro. Meanwhile, Hizballah and Cuba have deployed a network of intelligence officials to help him maintain control of the military and the streets, according to Venezuelan and American officials briefed on the relevant intelligence.

If Maduro survives, Russia, Iran, and Hizballah would score another major victory against the West, essentially replicating their defense of Assad in the Western Hemisphere at a much lower cost in lives and treasure. They would also solidify a beachhead in Latin America through which to challenge U.S. allies while drawing from Venezuela’s enormous energy and mineral wealth. U.S. officials are particularly concerned about Hizballah’s ability to exploit the weakened state to generate more revenue from narcotics trafficking. . . .

[The Iranian flights to Venezuela] commenced just a week after Maduro’s foreign minister, Jorge Arreaza, visited Lebanon and Syria to meet with two of Tehran’s closest allies: Assad and Hizballah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah. . . . The Iranian proxy militia has been active in Latin America for decades, often infiltrating Arab émigré populations to conduct operations. For example, investigators concluded that the group coordinated with Iran to bomb the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, with some senior Argentinian officials accused of complicity in the latter crime. More recently, the Treasury Department blacklisted the Lebanese Canadian Bank in 2011 on charges of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars of Latin American drug money into Hizballah accounts in Beirut.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank