The controversial President of the Islamic Republic of Iran has begun a new trip in which he has included two African countrsies (Gambia and Senegal) and three South American (Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela) ones. Nevertheless, the big deal of this tour is what the Iranian leader could concrete in Brazilian territory, a place in which Iran’s most important political authority wants to establish and strengthen strategical ties.
It is not big news to see Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Bolivia because he was there in 2007. Neither it is to see him holding hands with Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, since they had already met in two other previous meetings but never before in Brazil. And even less surprising will be the visit of Ahmaedinejad to Venezuela, a country in which he will meet with one of his great allies, Hugo Chávez.
The present tour of the Iranian Head of State in South América is part of a process that began some years ago and, specifically, since the main political authority of Iran assumed the presidency in 2005.
Summarizing in a few lines what has been Mahmoud Ahamedinejad’s mandate may seem to be imposible but what can be said is that his foreign policy has been dominated by the constant tensions with the European Union and United States, the main protagonists of the Western World. Also, his relation with Israel can be considered as ominous because the Iranian President has denied the holocaust. And that is not all, because the denial of the Jewish slaughter complicated his ties with the Arab world, since not all of those states share his particular vision about that historical fact.
Neither does he enjoy good relations with Iraq, since the old quarrel for the eighties’ war (1980-1988) and the ideological differences have obstructed a greater approach between these two nations that should have a more conciliatory influence, not only between them, but also in all the adjoining region. Regarding the Persian Gulf (or Arab Gulf, as the Arabs say), today’s Iranian government has been involved in conflicts with Bahrein and the United Arab Emirates, just to mention some examples, and far beyond of this specific situations, the concrete thing is that Arab-Iranian relations, without being bad, are far from being good. The fact that Morocco decided to move further away, diplomatically, from Iran is a demonstration that the suspicions of a “chiist exportation” affects the Iranian external relations.
Also, it is necessary to mention that the external policy of Iran has been focused in the search of new partners in Central Asia and that’s tathe reason that explains why Ahmadinejad has improved Iran’s ties with Tayikistan and Afghanistan. At the same time, he benefits from the support of powerful countries such as Russia and, in a less degree, China, two nations that derange western states in the Iranian nuclear project issue, because they have not been so hard in comparison to the European Union and the Unites States postures.
So, it is not strange that the Iranian leader looks for a deeper influence in South America, since Ahmadinejad has understood that in this region he can find “friends”. In fact, he has the consent of Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales but until some days ago this alliances were not more than a commitment between a powerful country (Iran) and two states without a big influence in the world.
Nevertheless, this reality changed drastically with the visit of the President Ahmadinejad to Brazil.
After the meeting with his homologous Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, it is clear that both governments have sealed a pact of mutual support. The fact that the Brazilian enterprise Petrobras continues working in Iranian territory and that a commercial agreement between both governments was signed and that they decided to suppress the visas for diplomats from both countries or that they established an agreement about cultural exchange is not more than secondary measures. Yes, because the relevant fact is that Brazil’s government will support the Iranian nuclear power project and, at the same time, Iran has committed to back Brazilian intentions for becoming a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization (UNO).
This mutual help can be used by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to demonstrate that he has a real support in South America. Now, he will have a big and important partner as Brazil, a country that has taken the responsibility of establishing as the main leader of Latin America and, from this position, insert itself in the world politics as an influent country.
This is also a demonstration of the Brazilian ambitious bet. It is not a mere coincidence that Lula Da Silva’s government is involving in the Middle East conflict. Neither it is the organization of the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. It is not a chance that since some time ago Brazil decided to return European citizens to Europe, imitating the policies of Europe. And, even less, to see and active diplomacy in the last years, which hast given Brazilian government a big influence in Latin America and, to a less extent, in Africa. Brazil wants to have an hegemonic role in the region and for that purpose it needs strategical support.
Nevertheless, this game is risky because the excessive pragmatism that has been established as the basis of its external relations can bring some problems. Lula Da Silva may win some important partners as Iran but he can also lose other relevant friends as the United States, the European Union, Russia, Japan, India and China, among others.
So, the Brazilian government will have to move with great caution in order to maintain a balance to keep satisfactory relations with all countries. Can it be possible? How many obvious problems will he have to ignore to obtain more support? Until when will the neighbouring states accept this maquiavelic policy?
We will see.