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Iran in the Americas, Another Flaccid USG Report

The State Department issued a report on Iran in the Western Hemisphere that some Members of Congress say understates the Iranian presence and activity in the Americas.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) told Bloomberg News that he believes “the Administration has failed to consider the seriousness of Iran’s presence here at home … I question the methodology that was used in developing this report.” Read the entire story here. This is not the first, and surely will not be the last time that the State Department tries to water down Iran’s work in Latin America.

One of the bigger weaknesses of the report, at least the unclassified version, is that it needs a little more context to appreciate how little we may know about Iran in Latin America. When the report says that the U.S. “works with our allies and partners to collect information on Iranian activities in the Western Hemisphere,” you have to consider that our circle of friends in the region is somewhat tainted.

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva met several times with his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that in and of itself is generally meaningless. Foreign leaders meet all the time; however, Brazil and Iran did pen various agreements including one in 2010 to exchange low enriched uranium. To Brazil’s credit, current President Rousseff has somewhat distanced her administration from Iran, but relations remain generally intact and there is some commerce between the nations.

For example, Iran’s allies include nations that are not friendly to the United States. Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and a few others, have governments in power that in varying degrees of intensity, generally dislike the United States. Why would they feel inclined to share anything of value on Iran with the United States? They will not.

There is enough information in the public domain for a much more fulsome and contextualized report. The State Department could have penned that Iran’s radicalized presence started in a pre-09.11.01 world with terrorist attacks in Argentina during the 1990s. By the way, while the President Kirchner  wishes this issue would go away, it will not. Kirchner would rather work with the Iranian regime than bring the terrorists to justice. Is Argentina one of the “allies and partners” referenced in this State Department report? Brazil is also suspect when it comes to these issues.

Part of the problem may stem from traditional analytical models used to review Iranian activity as well as radical Islam’s reach in far away places such as the South America’s tri-border area. On the other hand, I have been told by U.S. government officials that there are people in the USG who in denial and simply  do not want to accept the fact that Iran has penetrated Latin America.

Frankly it all sounds very political, not analytical. Any presence of a state sponsor of terrorism, anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, should be deemed a problem for the United States.

Draw your own conclusions.

USG: Iran in the Western Hemisphere

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