In a move widely criticized by Republicans, President Biden recently sought to resume imports of Venezuelan oil in exchange for the promise of free and fair elections in 2024, a move that critics say would only strengthen the hand of Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship. The move comes at a time of closer relations between the two enemies of the United States.

Iran and Venezeula, both oil-rich OPEC members with international pariah status, have recently found solidarity in coordinated geopolitical, economic and military maneuvers against the common common enemy of the United States, which has subjected them to a regime of sanctions for years. economic.

Ties between nations were close under Venezuelan socialist president Hugo Chavez, but they have further strengthened under Maduro, who sought a lifeline from the Iranian Islamist regime. Although Venezuela enjoys what is believed to be the largest oil fields in the world, years of mismanagement, corruption and maintenance problems have dramatically hampered its production and refining capabilities.

Former Venezuelan diplomat and current political dissident Isaias Medina sees the alliance as a clear and present threat to the United States: “In my opinion, the Axis of Evil countries are increasing their presence on Venezuelan territory to strengthen their policy. state to pursue de facto control of a government based on an asymmetrical war against the West … this is where the interests of Venezuela-Iran-China-Russia-Cuba align “. Medina left him his position with the Venezuelan mission to the United Nations, where he served in a prominent position on Maduro’s policies.

Geopolitical analysts have noted that the Maduro regime is now pursuing a policy that offers economic and territorial control to rogue states in exchange for access to its vast resources, including oil, gold and potentially even uranium.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Tehran, Iran on June 11, 2022.
(Photo by Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

VENEZUELA’S OPPOSITION PROMOTES US TO MAINTAIN ITS CONSIDERATION ON OIL IMPORTS

In June of this year, Venezuela and Iran signed a 20-year cooperation plan that includes Iranian assistance in the repair and maintenance of existing Venezuelan refineries, as well as other technical and engineering expertise. The two nations also signed an agreement under which Iran will deliver four oil tankers to Venezuela through the Iranian company SADRA. Weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran began in July, suggesting speculation that the cargo could include military hardware.

Currently, Venezuela lacks both the investment capital and the experience to resurrect its formidable oil industry. With Russia’s Rosneft sidelined by US sanctions, the Maduro regime has looked to Iran to bridge the gap. Iran has already sent fleets of tankers laden with fuel to alleviate Venezuela’s crises and has also helped export Venezuelan crude in the face of crippling US sanctions that have somewhat frightened both Russia and China, long allies. term.

A curious novelty in Iran-Venezuela relations concerns a new supermarket, Megasis, launched in 2020. Perched at the eastern end of Caracas, the 20,000-square-foot megastore sits next to Venezuela’s largest and most infamous slum, Petare, where it offers a astounding range of more than 2,500 Iranian products, many considered new to its new customers.

A woman goes to the Iranian supermarket "Megasi" after its opening on July 30, 2020 in Caracas, Venezuela. "Iran, like every country in the world, has the right to free trade," the Iranian ambassador to Caracas said at the opening.  Tehran had recently sent five tankers full of gasoline to Venezuela.

A woman goes to the Iranian supermarket “Megasis” after it opened on July 30, 2020, in Caracas, Venezuela. “Iran, like every country in the world, has the right to free trade,” said the Iranian ambassador to Caracas at the opening. Tehran had recently sent five tankers full of gasoline to Venezuela.
(Photo by Rafael Hernandez / picture alliance via Getty Images)

However, Medina believes the firm “another smokescreen to mask their true intentions … profitability is not their interest, it is simply the public face that hides the real agenda behind the ‘supermarket’: arms deals. , training, exchange of strategic resources, oil, and military hardware on the one hand, and possibly even uranium on the other. “

VENEZUELA’S OPPOSITION PROMOTES US TO MAINTAIN ITS CONSIDERATION ON OIL IMPORTS

Iranian dissident Banafsheh Zand sees the supermarket itself as a public relations ploy, designed to obscure the more nefarious intentions on the part of both regimes: “It’s designed to show (the Venezuelan people) … we’re so knowledgeable and good at relationships. foreign, we actually have friends who come to help us … people who care about the Venezuelan people “.

However, given the current economic hardship and deprivation in Iran, Zand argues that this is an unseemly vanity project.

“This is the latest show of who these people are. In Iran, the price of regular commodities is skyrocketing; an egg costs the equivalent of $ 5 … It’s a nice way to finger the rest of the world”.

Venezuela has seen the US and most of its allies recognize opposition leader Juan Guaido as president, while Maduro and senior lieutenants have been indicted by the US Department of Justice on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. of money.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi welcomes Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to Sadabat Palace in Tehran, Iran on June 11, 2022.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi welcomes Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to Sadabat Palace in Tehran, Iran on June 11, 2022.
(Photo by Iranian Presidency / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS CARRIED OUT A “CALCULATION” TO PRIORITATE THE IRAN NUCLEAR AFFAIR ON HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES

Iran is currently seeking to renegotiate the Iranian nuclear deal with the Biden administration, despite strident objections from Congressional Republicans and some Democrats. It is also threatened by the violent protests that have engulfed the nation in recent weeks. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi blamed the United States for the unrest, claiming it was trying to spread “chaos, terror and destruction”.

With a steady flow of oil tankers, cargo ships and planes between the two countries, the supermarket is likely a small piece of a far more nefarious geopolitical battle involving money laundering, arms trafficking, drug trafficking and dictatorship.

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Medina argues that Venezuela-Iran relations involve “the union of strategic pieces converging against Western interests: Venezuela is the headquarters of these Axis of Evil countries, which seek to gain ground in South America and destabilize the West. “.

The intent of the Venezuelan government also provides for infiltration into the United States. Zand argues that “the government of Venezuela creates fake passports for Iranian, Syrian and Yemeni citizens” in order to facilitate their movement in and through the West, yet “the Biden administration is willing to make a deal with a regime that does this. “

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