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Iran Seeks Allies in South America

In addition to recent military posturing, Iran is looking to extend a softer version of its influence to South America by signing trade contracts, opening embassies and financing development projects.

What’s the Latest Development?

This month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will tour four Central and South American states as part of a larger diplomatic effort he is making in the continent. From developing mining projects in Ecuador to building factories in Venezuela, Iran is looking to extend a softer version of its influence. The moves comes in addition to recent military posturing in the Gulf, where Iran has tested a medium-range missile capable of threatening Israeli and American interests.

What’s the Big Idea?

Naturally, the US interprets Iran’s diplomatic missions as something more than an extension of goodwill. In Venezuela, where president Hugo Chavez shares Ahmadinejad’s anti-American outlook, Iran has established transportation companies as well as a bank which US officials believe exists to circumvent economic sanctions. Iran’s Quds Force, a military unit the US accuses of plotting assassinations, will be deployed to protect newly-opened Iranian embassies, leaving American officials to expect more trouble.

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