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Opinion: Iran and Latin America: The Media States Its Case.

Byline: Ramzy Baroud

Summary: Should the United States be concerned about IranAAEs determined efforts to reach out to Latin America? Or, as was suggestively described in the Economist, by the AyatollahsAAE strategy of cozying up to Latin America?

Should the United States be concerned about IranAAEs determined efforts to reach out to Latin America? Or, as was suggestively described in the Economist, by the AyatollahsAAE strategy of cozying up to Latin America?

The US continues to see the world as its own business. It gives itself and its allies, most notably Israel, the right to geopolitical maneuverability. Iran, on the other hand, is censured, derided and punished for even its own internal policies, within its own borders. Thus, an Iranian move into Latin America is naturally viewed as unwarranted, uncalled for and most definitely dangerous as far as the US is concerned.

But Iran is not invading America geopolitical space per se. It is neither financing a terrorist group, nor involved in the ongoing narcotic war. More, there is no historical connection between an interventionist Iran and the bloody past of Latin America, including its former dictators and brutal juntas.

In fact, IranAAEs Aaecozying upAAE to Latin American merely began in 2005. Since then, Iran has opened embassies in several Latin American countries and launched important joint projects that provided funds and work opportunities for thousands of ordinary people. There is no Iranian equivalent to the School of the Americas.

So why the alarm?

Paul McLeary of Aviation Week gives us a clue. IranAAEs move Aohas set off a proxy conflict between Iran and Israel in South America, with the presidents of both countries logging frequent-flier miles to win friends in the region.

One cause for concern among many analysts is the weekly flight between Caracas and Tehran (with a stop in Damascus) that Iran Air has flown for two years.Ao

He quotes Frida Ghitis: AoFlight manifests are kept secret, so neither cargo nor passenger information is well known Aaone Israeli report suggested that Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying uranium to Iran.Ao

Two questions emerge. One, is it required of Caracas and Tehran to provide a detailed report of the cargo and passengers to the US and Israel, and perhaps also cc-ed to a list of their friends and allies?

The second pertains to Israel itself. Why is the media most concerned by IranAAEs AaesuspiciousAAE behavior in Latin America, despite the fact that its presence is welcomed by various countries in the hemisphere, while Israel - whose bloody involvement has wrought much chaos to South America - is simply unquestioned, and even cited as a credible source?

There is no evidence to link Iran to death squads, or any Iranian firm with Aoan archive and computer file on journalists, students, leaders, leftists, politicians and so onAo to be hunted down, killed or simply made to AaedisappearAAE under brutal regimes.

IsraelAAEs own history in Latin America seems to inspire little commentary by the ever-vigilant Aaemany analystsAAE. McLeary, Ghitis and others need to do their homework before leveling accusations against others. The book Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship may be a good place to start.

Back to the lurking Ayatollahs in AmericaAAEs backyard, Susan Kaufman Purcell is also raising questions, this time about Brazil. In Brazil President Luiz InEicio Lula da Silva welcomed his Iranian counterpart, president Ahmadinejad late November 2009.

In the January 7 Wall Street Journal, Purcell claimed: AoUntil recently, the Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the United States were natural allies who shared many foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin America.

Brazil, after all, is a friendly democracy with a growing market economy and Western cultural values.Ao Purcell suggests that BrazilAAEs various achievements Au largely beneficial to the US Au qualified the country to become Aomore like usAo.

The article infers, however, that Brazil is actually Aonot like usAo. The fact that it dares to be different - by pursuing a Brazilian-centered foreign policy - shows the audacity of the deceivingly loveable Lula. The Brazilian president is apparently going rouge simply by deviating from WashingtonAAEs regional and international priorities.

Amongst his many crimes: AoInstead of expressing concern over Iran's activities in Latin America, Brazil is drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its $2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future.Ao

Another: AoHe reiterated his support for Iran's right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful uses, while insisting that there is no evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.Ao And of course, Purcell doesnAAEt fail to remind us of Aothe weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela.Ao

Western media is indeed rife with all sorts of unfounded accusations, baseless speculations and superfluous insinuations. They evoke in the reader and viewer a dread and fear, based in this case on the doomsday scenario whereby fanatical Latin Americans and radical Muslims gang up on America, and ultimately Israel.

Now consider these appalling insinuations by the Economist. First it claims that the Brazilian President Aooffered support for IranAAEs work on nuclear technology for (supposedly) peaceful use.Ao Note the word AosupposedlyAo.

Then: One of the AoinstrumentsAo of destabilizing Latin America is IranAAEs production of Aonews programmes and documentaries for Bolivian television, no doubt to give a fair and balanced view of the Great Satan.Ao Note the writerAAEs insertion of the little irrelevant term AoGreat SatanAo to convert the act of TV production that challenges Western mainstream mediaAAEs narrative into a menacing endeavor.

More: Brazil president talked Aoabout IsraelAAEs right to stay just where it is on the map.Ao Of course, Lula didnAAEt phrase it that way. This is the writerAAEs attempt to remind us of the claim that Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

Still, more: AoAaprotesters waved banners reminding Mr Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust had indeed taken placeAo. This provides the big climax - the claim that IranAAEs president has denied the Holocaust.

But why the charged, exaggerated commentary?

A seemingly random Economist AaeadvertisementAAE box embedded with the article, and another long side column at the magazineAAEs website reminds readers of AoThe Economist Debate Series Au January 11-18.Ao The topic of the week, presented with an image of a warplane radar zooming in on the Iranian map, asks the question: AoIs It Time to Strike Iran?Ao

After reading such unsubstantiated, yet disquieting analyses, how would most readers respond?

2009 - The Tripoli Post

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Publication:The Tripoli Post (Tripoli, Libya)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 25, 2010
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