Iran and Venezuela challenge Washington

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The first of the five oil tankers sent by the Iranian government to make up for the chronic shortage of fuel in the Latin American country subjected to Washington’s fierce sanctions landed undisturbed at a port in Venezuela over the weekend. A second boat has already entered Venezuelan waters and, for the time being, the United States has not moved a finger to prevent its transit, despite the threatening rhetoric of the past few days.

Overall, the contribution of the Islamic Republic to the needs of Caracas should amount to over 1.5 million barrels of gasoline, together with a chemical component to be used in crude oil refining processes, for a total value of 46 million dollars. According to the international press, Venezuela has paid the cargo arriving from Iran in gold, but the news has been denied by the government of the latter country.

The arrival of the Iranian oil tankers was greeted triumphantly by the Venezuelan authorities. The Bolivarian navy has escorted the ships inside their waters to the coast, sending a clear message of challenge to the United States and to the forces deployed recently in the Caribbean Sea by the White House with the excuse of countering drug trafficking. The American decision had been one of the last to be implemented in the Coronavirus emergency to put pressure on Caracas. In reality, the drug movement to the United States is fueled almost entirely by Colombia and passes through the Central American countries, which, with the exception of Nicaragua, are all close allies of Washington.

However, the US government had not announced plans to intercept and obstruct Iranian oil tankers. The leaders of the Islamic Republic, for their part, had warned the White House not to interfere in the legitimate supply of fuel destined for Venezuela. Last Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani assured that the United States would face serious “problems” in the event of obstacles to the oil tanker movement.

Fear of American military escalation in the Middle East is primarily discouraged. The stop to oil directed to Venezuela could in fact push Iran to implement the threat launched long ago in Washington, that is to block crude oil traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, from which almost a third of the world total shipped by sea passes .

The Venezuelan-Iranian maneuver was then in all probability designed at least with the consent of Russia and China, increasingly clearly involved in the events of Caracas in support of the legitimate President Maduro. Both powers have strong economic and strategic interests in the Latin American country and in the recent past they had sufficiently clarified the absolute unwillingness to accept an American coup against Maduro.

If the regime change in Caracas continues to be at the top of the list of priorities of certain American power circles, it is equally undeniable that the precipitate of the situation in Venezuela would represent a huge risk for Trump a few months after the presidential elections and in the presence of a situation dramatic domestic on the economic and health front. In this context, the Iranian move, in collaboration with Moscow and Beijing, further raises the stakes for Washington, making a rash move in the military even more risky.

In any case, American behavior must be carefully evaluated. The level of despair that characterizes US power circles in the face of the rapid loss of influence on a global scale suggests not to rule out irrational decisions. Especially since what is happening in Venezuelan waters is an operation orchestrated by two “rogue” countries, both subject to the severe economic sanctions imposed unilaterally by Washington.

The breakdown of the alleged isolation of Venezuela, which is moreover of a symbolic nature since Iranian supplies will cover a need of no more than three weeks, is extremely important also because it comes close to sensational initiatives attempted by the Trump administration to overthrow the government Maduro. The White House had for example put a $ 15 million bounty on the Venezuelan president, ridiculously accused of drug trafficking.

Furthermore, just a few weeks ago an attempt to invade the coast of Venezuela by mercenaries in the service of an American company, recruited by the Washington puppet, Juan Guaidó, to be paid with over 200 million dollars literally stolen from the government and ended badly to the Venezuelan people. Like the latter undertaking failed miserably, the arrival of the Iranian oil tankers also contributes to discredit the opposition forces on which the United States are based to attempt the coup in Caracas. In fact, Guaidó himself had actually invoked US military intervention to prevent the supply of goods that his country absolutely needs.

The events of these days in the Caribbean Sea could end in a genuine humiliation for the United States, which is seeing a new element emerge in strategic competition in what has always been considered Washington’s “home garden”. Frustration, along with American arrogance in this regard, was leaked, among other things, by the statements of the commander in charge of operations on the American continent, Admiral Craig Faller. The latter condemned Iran’s behavior because it was aimed at “gaining advantages in a nearby region [agli USA] to the detriment of our interests. ”

As for the impotence highlighted so far in front of the Iranian initiative, the frustration in Washington has been unequivocal in recent days. An editorial from the Wall Street Journal he had come to openly ask for military action to stop the oil tankers bound for Venezuela. For Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper, inaction would in fact be more risky than the possible explosion of an armed conflict, despite the more than dubious legality of an operation to be conducted in international waters.

The Washington Post Jeff Bezos instead gave credit to the conjectures of those who claim that Iran is not only supplying gasoline, but uses oil tankers to bring intelligence material to Venezuela to install a position in the Latin American country from which to intercept “air” and “marine” communications “. The PostsHe also irritatedly pointed out that Russia, above all, is the winner of the violation of the embargo imposed on Venezuela.

Finally, the American embarrassment is also multiplied by the fact that the Iranian provocation is in a situation marked by a relative de-escalation of the clash with Tehran, from which the Trump administration seems to have to reap the greatest benefits. Mainly for electoral reasons, the White House had tacitly agreed to tone down and refrain from threatening initiatives directed against the Islamic Republic, so as to avoid a ruinous conflict in the Middle East.

The convergence of the interests of the two enemy countries had become very clear in Iraq, where a new prime minister has recently taken office after months of political stalemate thanks to the go-ahead of Washington and Tehran. In this perspective, the US decision to withdraw a part of its military contingent from Saudi Arabia, that is Iran’s main strategic rival in the Middle East after Israel, was also to be seen.

A resurgence of tensions in Latin America would therefore bring the hypothesis of an armed clash between the US and Iran to the agenda, with the risks already mentioned for Trump’s prospects for reelection, not to mention the economic repercussions. The American intentions can however be better verified in the coming days, when the three Iranian oil tankers still sailing in the Atlantic ocean should dock on the coasts of Venezuela.

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