Last week five Iranian gasoline tankers moved into a Venezuela port. With an estimated value of $45 million, this shipment will provide about one month’s supply of rationed gasoline for a nation that desperately needs it. Unfortunately, after President Nicolas Maduro and his communist henchmen secure the pumping stations and price gouge those in need, the street value of this gasoline will be about $450 million putting it well out of the reach of the majority of Venezuelans.
The arrival of the shipments from Iran breaks two sets of United States sanctions – against purchasing Iranian oil products and selling oil products to Venezuela. With both nations under sanctions trading with each other, there is however, little that America can do outside a naval blockade.
Even though Venezuela sits on the largest oil reserves on the planet, years of Communist rule and mismanagement have severely impacted its capacity to refine that oil into usable forms such as petrol or gasoline. The petrol shipments are an attempt to temporarily tide the regime over until Venezuelan refineries are fixed. Here too, Iran is helping by transporting technicians and parts to bring refineries back on line.
Iran isn’t providing all this help out of the goodness of their heart. Maduro’s government is paying with gold from its central bank which according to the Caracas Capital Markets dropped their gold reserves by $700 million. According to US officials all totaled, nine tons of gold, equal to about $500 million were transported to Iran at the end of April.
It isn’t that the US ignored these Iranian tankers. They deployed 4 warships as well as patrol aircraft to the Caribbean but were warned by an Iranian Foreign Minister to back off, which they did. Their failure to respond to the tankers isn’t really all that surprising given that the oil will only buy Maduro’s regime a little more time. The real concern is that the shipment and flights into Venezuela of Iranian technicians and parts to repair Venezuela’s infrastructure are symbolic of an Iranian push into the Western Hemisphere. The Times UK also reported that Maduro was importing the Iranians to help him crackdown on dissent.
Commander of the US Southern Command, Admiral Craig Fuller said he believed that Iran’s objective was to “gain an advantage… We have seen an uptick in Iranian state-sponsored activity and liaison that has included the Quds Force,” an Iranian elite military unit.
Ties to Iran began with former Hugo Chavez under the guise of trade agreements. Under the surface, of course, Iran was infiltrating South America with its terrorist wing and using Venezuela’s cocaine production as a critical source of funding for its terrorist activities around the world. And the ground floor of the operation was the cocaine shipped north to the U.S.
Even though the U.S. had intelligence of Iran’s involvement in the Cocaine trade as early as President Barack Obama’s first term in office, he did nothing to stop it. In fact, according to an article in Politico, Obama did all he could to silence Iran’s connection to the drug trade as it would undermine his chief foreign-policy goal – the empowerment of Iran.
Under Obama, “The Justice Department declined requests to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billion in drug profits and a central player in a US based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high value targets to countries where they could be arrested. When the Trump administration came into power, he and his National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn started to play catch-up by sanctioning Iran and Venezuela and freezing accounts of individuals involved. Might this be the reason the left hates Michael Flynn so much?
Regardless of whether this is in fact an Iranian push for power or just further evidence of strengthened ties, there is no doubt that Iran is a growing power in our backyard and that is scary. For decades, Iran has proved very adept in the Middle East at maximizing its power inside weak nations. Are we witnessing a similar attempt in America’s backyard?
While it is unlikely that Iran will start lobbing missiles into Texas, they will, more than likely, obtain Venezuela citizenship for their terrorist agents making it easier for these terrorists to move throughout South America and the United States. In 2017 CNN reported that from 2008 to 2013, 179 Venezuelan passports and ID’s were issued to individuals from the Middle East, including people connected to Hezbollah.
And if you have any doubts of their intentions, just in the last few days the Iranian Director of Risalat Strategic Studies Institute offered Iran’s support and encouragement to Antifa and other domestic terrorist groups behind the destruction of America’s cities. “…the only solution that will bring an end to the Satan, in the words of Imam Khomeini, is for those oligarchs to be annihilated.”
The Obama administration had the intelligence to bust Iran’s growing position in Venezuela 10 years ago but refused to do it. This was the incomprehensible cost of Obama’s nuclear pact with Iran that is only now coming to light. Iran’s movements in South America, under cover of the Obama administration, underscore the damage President Obama did through the Iran nuclear deal.
Source: Iran Establishing a Base of Operations in Venezuela, The Trumpet