An attempt is made to share the truth regarding issues concerning Israel and her right to exist as a Jewish nation. This blog has expanded to present information about radical Islam and its potential impact upon Israel and the West. Yes, I do mix in a bit of opinion from time to time.
On Wednesday, Iranian president Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad touched down in Brazil for his first state visit to the South
American nation since 2009. The ostensible reason is to attend the U.N.
Conference on Sustainable Development, a high-profile gathering of more than 100
heads of state taking place in Rio de Janeiro. But high on Ahmadinejad's
priority list is an important bit of diplomacy: reinvigorating the once-robust
ties between Tehran and Brasilia. For Iran, Brazil is a potential economic
lifeline in the face of mounting international pressure.
Ahmadinejad has his work cut out for him.
Several years ago, when Ignacio Lula de Silva presided over the Brazilian
government, Brasilia ranked among Tehran's strongest partners in Latin America.
Over the past year-and-a-half, however, relations between the two countries have
cooled considerably, much to the chagrin of Iranian officials.
The turnaround is attributable to Lula's
successor, Dilma Rousseff, whose foreign policy is considerably less ideological
than that of her predecessor. A former women's rights activist who spent time in
prison, Rousseff has made a point of distancing Brazil from Iran since taking
office in January 2011, citing Iran's troubling human rights record. Earlier
this year she rebuffed Ahmadinejad when he wanted to make a state visit, and
it's unclear she will grant the Iranian president an audience this time out
Yet if these developments suggest that
Brazil is rethinking the prudence of partnership with Iran, the reality is that
trade ties between the two countries are still active. Indeed, Brazil represents
Iran's largest trading partner in the region. The concern then is that in the
future, the Rousseff government could well find it advantageous to renew closer
ties with Iran.
Iran hopes to spur just such a shift, and
Ahmadinejad's Latin American tour has a great deal to do with courting the
Rousseff government. If Tehran can thaw relations, then perhaps access to the
Brazilian economy will help Iran weather sanctions now being levied against it
by the West for its nuclear program.
But Iran is also solidifying its presence
in Brazil by other means. For instance, along with its terrorist proxy
Hezbollah, which maintains a significant presence in the tri-border region where
Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina intersect, Iran is involved in various
activities, like drug smuggling and money laundering.
In the main, Brazilian officials, although
aware of Iran's inroads, are complacent about the danger they pose. Even as
Brazil understands that Iran uses it as a staging-ground, it does not perceive
itself to be a potential target of terrorist activities. Therefore, Brazilian
authorities are reluctant to move decisively against signs of Iranian
clandestine and criminal activities in their country.
Ultimately, however, Brasilia is going to
be forced to take action. Because Brazil is hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and
the 2016 Olympic Games, homeland security has become a cardinal concern. As a
result, the Brazilian parliament is now considering two separate pieces of
terrorism-related legislation. If passed, they would strengthen the legal
framework governing counterterrorism in Brazil. It would also begin to constrain
the ability of bad actors, like Iran and its terrorist proxies, from exploiting
the country as part of its growing intrusion into the Americas.
Brazil's newfound focus on
counterterrorism represents an opportunity for the United States, which should
try to expand its dialogue with the Rousseff government regarding regional
security across Latin and North America. As Ahmadinejad's visit has made clear,
if Washington doesn't engage Brazil on those fronts, Tehran surely