The Islamic Republic’s activities in the Americas have stirred new concerns amidst the recent landing of its warships in Brazil, making Iran’s presence a little too close for comfort to the Biden administration.
The international community hoped the US to invoke consequences to the evident show of force from Iran, using The Monroe Doctrine, a foreign policy position from the first half of the 19th century, stating that any intervention in the political affairs of the Americas by foreign powers is considered a potentially hostile act against the United States.
Over almost two centuries, the doctrine has protected the US from unwanted foreign influence in the region. Most recently, it was invoked in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when Kennedy gave an ultimatum to the Soviets to pull out their missiles. Experts wonder if such a historic foreign policy principle could be the answer to the threat of Iranian encroachment.
When asked about the US stance on the matter, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Doctrine was merely “a legacy of history”, but admitted Iran’s presence so close to home was of grave concern.
“A country like Iran poses a collective threat to the United States and to our partners in this hemisphere. It is our intention to work collaboratively with our partners in the region but even closer to this neighborhood on those types of threats,” he said.
With Brazil refusing to join the US in sanctioning Iran, dating back to 2010, options are running out as to how one of the world’s biggest powers, can fight the threat of Iran looming closer to its shores with a lack of legal mechanisms in place.
The spokesperson said Brazil is “a close democratic partner of the United States,” despite a turbulent history between the two nations, suggesting the docking was not a welcome move for the Brazilian government and that the two sides were coordinating on the issue.
“It’s our impression that no democracy in this hemisphere or anywhere else would want these kinds of Iranian assets, these warships docking in their ports,” he said. “Warships like this have no place in the Western Hemisphere, given the signal it sends.”
Of further concern is the fact that the warships docked in Rio de Janeiro are in fact designated.
“They [Brazil], I am confident, are aware of existing sanctions authorities,” said Price. “We are going to do what is most effective together in pushing back on the threat and the challenge that Iran poses.”
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s government was urged by the Biden administration to send the warships — IRIS Makran and IRIS Dena — away in January, but recently bowed to Tehran, allowing them to dock in February.
The presence of the Islamic Republic in Latin America has been a growing concern for the US in recent years with several Congressional reports presented in different Senate and House committees detailing Iran’s influence in the region.
It has been one of a number of issues causing a rift between the US and its neighbors, not least, Brazil. In a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in 2012, Bob Menendez (D-NJ) said that within four years of Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005, Iran opened six new embassies in Latin America, including Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Uruguay, in addition to the five embassies Iran already had.
Diplomacy with Iran was one of the highlights of Lula’s attempts to bolster Brazil’s international standing during his previous presidential terms. He traveled to Tehran to meet then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2010 as he sought to broker a nuclear deal between Iran and the United States, Iran and Brazil old allies in the international arena.
During the Trump administration, then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo time again condemned Iran for its illicit activities in Latin America, describing the regime as “the largest state sponsor of terror” that represents “a global threat”.
On a tour of South American countries in April 2019, Pompeo said in Paraguay that “Iranian money remains in South America … supporting [Lebanese terror proxy] Hezbollah, supporting transnational criminal organizations, supporting efforts at terrorism throughout the region.”
The latest warships’ issue has gained domestic and international condemnation. Senator Ted Cruz called for sanctions against the South American country after the docking, dubbing it “a direct threat to the safety and security of Americans”.
He said the Biden administration is obligated to impose relevant sanctions, re-evaluate Brazil’s cooperation with US anti-terrorism efforts, and re-examine whether Brazil is maintaining effective anti-terrorism measures at its ports.
In Israel, Lior Haiat, spokesperson for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, called the Brazilian berth for the warships “a dangerous and regretful development”.
Price defended the Brazilian government, however, and said in a press briefing, “It is certainly not the case that the Brazilian government, [or] the Brazilian people would want to do anything that would assist … a regime that is responsible for a brutal crackdown and violent repression against its own people.”
Source » iranintl