By Shahriar Kia
The Iranian regime and Venezuela are both regimes that are at the top of the U.S. administration’s radar right now, but, in a not at all surprising turn of events, the two rogue states have a long history of collaboration.
Their relationship began in 2001 when former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez instituted a policy of opening up Iran’s financial channels in the South American country. He visited Tehran in 2001 and 2003 to sign joint venture accords with then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regarding manufacturing and banking, including the Toseyeh Saderat Iran bank.
At roughly the same time, Iran regime-backed terrorist group Hezbollah was also seeking to deepen its relationship in South America, mainly because Iran regime’s funding for Hezbollah hit a lull during the 1990s because on sanctions targeting the Iranian economy.
These two separate tracks intertwined in 2007 when then-Foreign Minister (and currently challenged President) Maduro and then-Vice Minister for Finance Rafael Issa secretly met Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Syria before Maduro joined Chávez in his Tehan meeting with Ahmadinejad. From then on, numerous commercial ties, ranging from legitimate to illegal, were established and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) subsidiaries in Venezuela to launder money, which they used to evade sanctions and enter the international financial system.
Now, the US sanctions on Venezuela and Iran have deeply affected Hezbollah’s finances, severely hampering the terror group’s military and terrorist capabilities. But the group have managed to survive through drug trafficking, which would end in a free Venezuela and Iran.
Therefore, it is in Hezbollah’s best interests to help Maduro and Iran regime’s Ali Khamenei stay in power. Hezbollah will do whatever it takes to make that happen, which is why international sanctions on the two countries are so important. This is the only way to stop the threat of Hezbollah, Iran regime, and Venezuela.
Dr Vanessa Neumann, the appointed ambassador and chief of a diplomatic mission to the United Kingdom of Venezuela’s resistance leader Juan Guaidó, wrote: “If a plan is not developed to address how to deal effectively with Hezbollah, now as well as post-transition, my people’s suffering will extend and deepen. We are already projected to surpass the Syrian refugee crisis within the year, destabilizing neighbouring countries that have worked hard to overcome their terrorist insurgencies and find peace and prosperity, such as Peru and Colombia. Disrupting Venezuela’s financing of criminal and terrorist groups would help improve security not only in the western hemisphere but in the Middle East as well.”