The Arab uprisings are changing the geopolitical map. When old allies might become new enemies, a country like Iran has a lot to lose. Teheran is now concerned about becoming even more isolated -- and for good reasons.

Qatar, for one, which used to be aligned with Iran, has switched sides. The small Emirate that owns the powerful satellite television channel Al-Jazeera now prefers to side with the rebels, and is supporting the uprising in Syria -- another move away from Iran. If the Syrian uprising topples the regime, Damascus will probably not continue good relations with Teheran, a choice that will also have political repercussions in Lebanon.

Teheran is noiw desperately seeking new allies in the Arab world; the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his way to New York stopped for few hours in Mauritania, where he met with his counterpart, Mohamed Quld Abdel Aziz. The friendship between the two countries began in 2008, when Mauritania broke its relations with Israel. The Mauritanian President, however, is also facing discontent inside his country, so Iran cannot really count on this ally, either.

Iran's only chance, then, seems to be South America, where the mullahs' regime has found fertile ground on which to spread its anti-American propaganda. Since the start of the Arab revolutions, several Iranian high level have officials travelled to Latin America, especially Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Cuba. Recently, The Iranian Vice President, Mohammed Reza Rahimi, went on an official visit to Ecuador and Cuba accompanied by Iran's Economic Minister, Hosseini; Iran's Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade, Mehdi Ghazanfari; the Energy Minister, Majid Namjou, and a number of other Iranian officials.

Iran apparently looked on visit as an opportunity to strengthen further diplomatic and economic ties that will help Teheran create new businesses or expand old ones.. Several countries in Latin America have expressed a willingness to circumvent the UN's sanctions against Iran and to strengthen Iran's foothold in the region.

The Iranian VP's visit to South America anticipates one by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Venezuela, which will take place after a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly to "strive to reform world management." The Iranian leader apparently also wants to take advantage of the week that will follow the UN bid for a Palestinian State to visit his friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The international media will be busy covering Palestinian issues at the UN, so that Ahmadinejad's trip to Venezuela will not presumably attract the the press. Ahmadinejad described the relations between Tehran and Caracas as special and said "Iran is determined to develop more serious cooperation with Venezuela, and it will obviate the obstacles in its way." In August, media reported that Chavez was helping Iran to acquire Russian surface-to-air missiles S-300, one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems.

In the meantime, Iran has started its "invasion" of Latin America, launching a TV channel in Spanish, HispanTV. that will be available in the region at the end of 2011. The channel will be a propaganda tool against the West, bringing Iran's political and religious perspective to Latin America. Teheran also intends to establish offices there of IRNA, Iran's national news agency, to compete with Western agencies and to influence the public opinion. Iran intends not to remain isolated, but to conquer instead the hearts and the spirits in the US's backyard.

From the Press:

Ecuador

September 10, 2011

Iranian VP: "hegemonic powers" won't prevent relations with Ecuador

First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi says Iran is being punished with sanctions due to the fact that the country does not want to be subservient to hegemonic powers. Rahimi made the remarks during a meeting with Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa in Quito […]

He commented on the imposition of sanctions against Iran and said hegemonic powers will not be able to prevent Iran from promoting relations with independent countries such as Ecuador.

He went on to say that today Iran sees no obstacle in the way of cementing ties with Ecuador, adding that the Iranian delegation to Ecuador has held several brief meetings with high-ranking Ecuadorian officials which were highly promising.

In the meeting, Correa also expressed satisfaction at the presence of the Iranian delegation in his country and emphasized the necessity of removing barriers to the implementation of agreements between the two countries.

He also said the Ecuadorian government has always welcomed the investment made by Iranian companies in his country. "This matter is not only rooted in our interest in Iran but is also rooted in the history and old civilization, as well as scientific advances of the country," Correa noted. Commenting on the friendly relations between Iran and Ecuador, he called for closer cooperation in all areas particularly economic cooperation. Tehran Times (Iran)

September 10, 2011

Ecuador "eager" to strengthen ties with Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Ecuador have signed two memorandums of understanding, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has announced. Rahimi made the remarks at a press conference after a meeting with his Ecuadorean counterpart Lenin Moreno at the Carondelet presidential palace in Quito […]

Iranian Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance Shamseddin Hosseini and Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino inked the agreements on preventing double taxation and the campaign against money laundering and organized crime. During the meeting with Moreno, Rahimi called for the expansion of ties between Tehran and Quito. Moreno said Ecuador is eager to increase the level of its interactions with the Islamic Republic.

Rahimi also held a meeting with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, where they emphasized the need to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all areas. Rahimi, who is currently on a tour of Latin American countries, arrived in Ecuador on Friday. Iranian Economy Minister Hosseini, Iranian Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade Mehdi Ghazanfari, Energy Minister Majid Namjou, and a number of other Iranian officials are accompanying him on the Latin American trip. Press TV (Iran)

September 10, 2010

Iran's Red Crescent to set up medical center in Ecuador

The Iranian Red Crescent Society plans to build a well-equipped medical center in the Latin American state of Ecuador, an IRCS official announced on Wednesday. "Abolhassan Faqih (Head of the IRCS) is accompanying Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi on a trip to Ecuador to mark the start of the construction of IRCS's first medical center in that country," said the Director-General of IRCS's Public Relations Office Pouya Hajian […].

During the recent years, Iran has expanded friendly ties with Latin America, especially in economic, trade and industrial areas. Since taking office in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expanded Iran's cooperation with many Latin American states, including Venezuela and Cuba. In November 2009, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended a ceremony to inaugurate the Iranian Red Crescent's hospital in Bolivia. Tehran Times (Iran)

Cuba

September 10, 2011

Iran and Cuba signed, on Thursday, five cooperation pacts and one memorandum of understanding (MoU) in different areas of industry, mining, energy, banking, commerce, health, agriculture and transport […]

The economic and commercial agreements were signed during a visit by a high-level delegation from Tehran led by Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi , and aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.

Iran's development contribution to Cuba, health cooperation between two countries, cooperation in insurance, commercial shipping, water supplying, exchange of trade delegations, holding seminars, exchange of university students and sending Persian literature professors are among issues included in cooperation pacts.

Iran boosts credit line for Cuba to €500m

The designated credit line for Cuba increased from 200 million euros to 500 million euros, the IRNA news agency reported.

Tehran had earmarked a 200 million euros credit line to Havana for buying goods and technical services from Iranian companies in the past.

This nominal figure has been allocated for buying transportation wagons, machinery, foods and textile productions and other stuffs as well, he said.

"Cuba will export sugar and nickel to Iran, in return," the Iranian official told IRNA in Havana. Bilateral trade between Iran and Cuba totaled $27 million in 2009, having dropped off from $46 million the previous year as the global recession hit. In 2009, the two countries formed a joint venture to produce refrigerators and other small appliances for the Cuban market, in addition to parts for the railroad industry. Tehran Times (Iran)

September 7, 2011

'Iran backs Cuba in fight against oppression'

The Iranian vice president says the Islamic Republic fully supports the people of Cuba among other Latin American nations in their fight against oppressive powers. "The Cuban nation has constantly been in the front line of the battle against oppressive powers, and the Islamic Republic is determined to expand further its ties with Cuba," Mohammad Reza Rahimi said at a meeting with Cuba's first vice president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, IRNA reported.

"Tehran is willing to promote its relations with Havana in all areas of culture, economy and politics," he told Jose Ramon Machado Ventura. Rahimi also expressed hope that the countries' 15th joint cooperation committee will open a new chapter in Tehran-Havana relations. Ventura, for his turn, hailed Iran's support for the freedom-seeking Cuban nation, and insisted on the expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries. […] Press TV (Iran)

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