Iran's Winning Latin Power Play

[New York Post] Amir Taheri - "A man of God and an enemy of the Great Satan" is how Iran's official media described Fernando Lugo, the Paraguayan ex-priest who just won his country's presidency. Iran's President Ahmadinejad hopes that Paraguay will now become another link in the chain of anti-U.S. regimes he's supporting with the help of his "brother," Venezuelan President Chavez. Since the late 1980s, the Iranian-run Hizbullah has built a base in Paraguay by recruiting in the Shiite community, about 15% of the population, which played a key role in Lugo's victory. Bolivia also elected a leftist firebrand, President Evo Morales. Ecuador's new president, Rafael Correa, has suspended talks for a free-trade pact with the U.S. and threatened not to renew the lease for the U.S. air base at Manta. In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas have regained power under President Daniel Ortega - who highlighted his alliance with Ahmadinejad by making Iran the first non-Latin country he visited after taking office. All this confirms Ahmadinejad's belief that the global tide is turning against the U.S. Iran has sold $4.5 billion worth of armaments to Venezuela and is training hundreds of Venezuelan military personnel. Iran has invested $1 billion in developing a Spanish-language TV network to compete with the major U.S. satellite channels. The Monroe Doctrine, designed to deny European powers a dominant role in the Americas, apparently doesn't apply to Iran - which is determined to carve its own Latin American zone of influence.

2008-05-02 01:00:00

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