#Iran’s South American Connections

Touching reunion - Ahmadinejad with Chavez in Caracas
Standard

Useful summary from Just the Facts following Ahmadinejad’s visit to Latin America last week helps to provide some of the detail for this post. His trip to attend the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil and solidify relationships in the region was a chance to assess how Iranian foreign policy is evolving in response to the changing political scene in Latin America. During his visit, Ahmadinejad made stops in Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela.

In his 2011 Worldwide Threat Assessment (PDF), Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper noted that Iran continues to reach out to Latin America as a way to diminish its international isolation and bypass international sanctions. So far, Iranian relations with Latin America have only developed significantly with leftists governments that oppose U.S. leadership in the world, particularly Venezuela, Bolivia, and other ALBA members, as well as with Brazil.

Touching reunion – Ahmadinejad with Chavez in Caracas

The U.S. State Department reacted to the recent trip with characteristic rhetoric, saying Ahmadinejad was “looking for friends in wrong places.”

Bolivia

  • The relationship between Bolivia and Iran has been increasingly friendly over the past few years. In 2007, trade and energy agreements were signed between the two countries and then extended in 2010. Bolivian President Evo Morales was also publicly reported praising Iranian investment by FARS news agency in 2007 and stated that his country “relies very much on Iran’s aids.”
  • On this trip, Ahmadinejad was keen to highlight the similarities between the two countries. According to Ahmadinejad, both Iran and Bolivia have a colonial past and will progress by “work[ing] together against greedy governments, and states that want to stop others from developing, and from exercising freedom.” President Morales responded: “There is a permanent aggression against you, your government and the Iranian people, but I want to tell you that you are not alone because we are with you in your fight against imperialism.”
  • An agreement was reached between Ahmadinejad and Bolivian President Evo Morales for the Iranian military to train ten counter-narcotics intelligence officers as per a new Memorandum of Understanding (PDF) between the two countries.
  • The trip has also renewed multiple economic and agricultural agreements between the countries, including the construction of a cement factory and housing projects, among others, according to the Argentina Independent.
  • The head of Iran’s Red Crescent Society, Abolhasan Faqih, said that Iran’s Red Crescent Society recently inaugurated a new medical center in Bolivia.

Brazil

  • Under President Lula da Silva, the relationship between Iran and Brazil became cordial, as Time reports, with Ahmadinejad visiting the country in 2009 and Lula returning the visit in 2010, to facilitate nuclear talks without US or EU powers, according to the BBC.
  • This relationship has changed with President Dilma Rousseff’s election in Brazil, as she has distanced her country from Iran as CNN noted earlier this year. Rousseff has cited Iran’s poor human rights record as a reason for her distance, which runs contrary to her priorities for her own country.
  • President Ahmadinejad was in Brazil for two days to take part in the Rio+20 Summit, though he also hoped to use the opportunity to reinvigorate ties with the Brazilian government. However, after a series of snubs by the Brazilian government, the success of the trip has been deemed a failure back at home in Iran. According to the Daily Telegraph, many Iranians are angry with the way in which President Ahmadinejad was treated and one Iranian MP criticized him “for failing to abandon the trip when he saw that he, and by extension, Iran, was being treated disrespectfully.”
  • The Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Ahmadinejad’s time in Brazil was instead spent in meetings with Brazilian elites, a meeting with the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and another with the former Brazilian President Lula da Silva, as well as addressing the Rio+20 Summit.

Venezuela

  • Venezuela has probably had the closest ties with Iran of any country in the region in recent years. Since 1999, President Hugo Chavez has visited Tehran 13 times.
  • This relationship seems stable; Ahmadinejad’s visit occurred one week after President Chavez confirmed that Venezuela was building unmanned drones with Iran’s help, as Reuters recently reported. Venezuelan-Iranian relations have most recently been demonstrated through reports that Iran has unrestricted access to a Venezuelan port, where Venezuelan workers are denied access. This has been reported in El Nuevo HeraldDie Welt and the Miami Herald, all citing confidential sources that allege the goal is to ultimately build a missile base, although at the moment it remains under a veil of secrecy.
  • Although the meeting does not appear to have produced any new agreements, in his opening remarks at the presidential palace in Venezuela, Ahmadinejad offered to “always stand by the Venezuelan nation and their brave president Hugo Chavez”. In addition, the two presidents focused their meeting on reviewing current agreements including their “mutual investment of about $5 billion in factories to make cement, satellites, food, tractors and bicycles.”

Cuba

  • The relationship between Venezuela and Cuba is such that Iran seeming benefits by association. The Associated Press reported that Venezuela’s state-owned oil company will join efforts to look for oil in deep waters off Cuba’s coast:
    • State-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, is next in line to drill after Malaysia’s Petronas completes its work, according to Rafael Ramirez, Venezuela’s oil minister and president of the company. He said Venezuela has budgeted an estimated $40 million for the project. Spanish oil company Repsol said last month that it would stop searching for oil off Cuba after hitting a dry well drilled at a cost of more than $100 million. “Repsol unfortunately didn’t have success in its well,” Ramirez said, “but that same platform is being used among all the companies that are participating there.”
  • ING bank has recently been forced to pay $619m as part of the deferred prosecution agreements reached with the Justice Department and the New York County District Attorney’s Office, for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA), and for violating New York state laws by illegally moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Cuban and Iranian entities.

Ecuador

  • Another country with close ties to Venezuela, and the smallest member of OPEC, Ecuador said on 23 May that it planned to buy about $400m in oil from Iran, despite US pressing for tighter sanctions.
  • Although not on Ahmadinejad’s itinerary – he visited in January, Ecuador received a visit from his deputy for international affairs, Vice-President Ali Saeedlou, at the end of May, reportedly to deliver a presidential invitation to the Non-Aligned Movement’s August summit in Tehran. Agence France Press says Saeedlou told reporters, after meeting with President Rafael Correa, that the two has also talked about increasing trade and technology exchanges.
  • In addition to the usual grandstanding we see whenever IAEA talks are in progress, Iran was perhaps attempting to exploit the relationship difficulties between Ecuador and the US following a diplomatic spat last year, in which ambassadors from both countries were expelled:  Saeedlou arrived on the same day the new US Ambassador resumed his post in Quito.

News from Iran – Week 24 – 2012

Abdolfatah Soltani
Standard

News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Javad Alikhani, Farshad Ghorbanpour, Saeed Jalalifar, Saeed Matinpour and Arash Saghar  transferred to solitary in ward 209.
  • Bahman Amouei transferred to solitary in ward 209 and then to Rejaei Shahr prison.Abdolrahman, Jamshid, Mansour and Taha Heydari, Ahvazi political prisoners sentenced to death, moved from Karoon river to an unknown location
  • Amir Moavi, Ahvazi political prisoner sentenced to death, moved from Karoon river to an unknown location.
  • Hamid Reza Moradi Sarvestani, ,dervish Gonabadi, hospitalized in Taleghani hospital.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Baha’i Adel Fanaeian arrested and taken to Semnan prison to start serving his 6 years sentence.
  • Student activist Siavash Hatam started serving his 1 year + 4months sentence in Evin prison.
  • Baha’i Faran Khan Yaghma was arrested in a violent raid of his home in Sari.
  • Former student activist Mostafa Nazari arrested in a raid of his home in Shiraz.
  • Jamal Zahedi, member of Moktab e Ghoran arrested in Sanandaj.
  • Amin Zargarnezhad, leftist activist, arrested in Tabriz.
  • Documentary film maker Mohammad Nourizad detained for 12 hours.

C-Liberations

  • Shirollah Dargahi, grandfather of imprisoned student activist Arash Sadeghi has been released on bail.
  • Nima Dehghan released on bail in Shiraz.
  • Afshin Ehsanian, Baha’i, freed at the end of his 10 months sentence.
  • Farid Emadi released on bail in Shiraz.
  • Nasrin Ghadiri, Baha’i, freed at the end of her 2 years sentence.
  • Keyvan Karami, Baha’i, freed at the end of his 10 months sentence.
  • Farham (Hadi) Masoumi, Baha’i, freed at the end of his 10 months sentence.
  • Kaviz Noozdahi Baha’i, freed at the end of his 2 years sentence.
  • Sima Rajabian, Baha’i, freed at the end of her 2 years sentence.
  • Sarir Sadeghi released on bail in Shiraz.
  • Afsaneh Toghir, student of Tabriz University, was released.
  • Hooman Zarei released on bail in Shiraz.


Abdolfatah Soltani

Abdolfatah Soltani

D-Other News

  • Mostafa Daneshjou, Reza Entesari ,  Amir Eslami, Afshin Karampour, Hamid Reza Moradi Sarvestani andFarshid Yadollahi on hunger strike in Evin 350.
  • Imprisoned journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian begins ‘indefinite fast’ to protest house arrest of green leaders.
  • Hossein Ronaghi Maleki ended hunger strike
  • 50 guards stormed ward 350 while prisoners were holding memorial service for Hoda Saber.
  • Imprisoned Human Rights attorney Abdolfatah Soltani refuses to be transferred to hospital handcuffed.
  • Ten of political prisoners in ward 350 Evin refused to see visitors as a show of solidarity.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Naser Abdi, Mehrdad Aghapour, Saber Ahmadi, Satar Ahmadi-Far, Mohsen Ali-Shahi, Nader Ameri-Saharghi, Mohammad Asadi, Pedram Asgari Davadgar, Tohid Aslani, Peyman Atash-Bonab, Javad Ayouzi, Alireza Azheri, Abolfazl Bakhshpour, Vahid Barzegari, Reza Bordbar-Jamalabadi, Mohammad Chenari, Hamed Daneshpour-Zendabadi, Behjat Faramarzi, Hamid Ghasemi, Ramin Gholipour, Kioumarz Ghorbani-Niknam, Mahiar Ghorbani, Alireza Hosseinzadeh, Saman Jahanpour, Ali Jebrailzadeh, Hossein Moghtader Ehsani, Ali-Asgar Mokhtarpour, Seyyed Morteza Mousavi, Hamed Niknampour-Aliloo, Masoud Peidaei, Jafar Pouryaeeghi, Ali Rafepour Ayouzi, Mojtaba Sabagh-Atefi, Reza Shiri, Faraj Taghiloo, Nouroldin Zarivar,Mohammad Esmaili, protesters against Lake Urmiah drying up, sentenced to 6 months in prison + 30 lashes.
  • Reza Abri, Azeri activist, sentenced by Appeals to 1 year.
  • Author, translator and Women’s rights activist Noushin Ahmadi has been sentenced to 1 year suspended for 5 years.
  • Rasool Amini, Kurdish activist from Sardasht has been condemned to 5 years imprisonment and exile to Kerman prison.
  • Vahed Doosti, Kurdish political activist, sentenced to 1 year in prison and sent to Sanandaj prison to serve his term.
  • Ebrahim Farajzadeh, Azeri activist, sentenced by Appeals to 6 months.
  • Court of Appeals has sentenced Sajedeh Kianoush Rad to 1 year suspended for 5 years.
  • Court of Appeals has upheld 10 years sentence of political prisoner Sedigheh Moradi on charges of affiliation with MKO.
  • Student activist Omid Rezaei has been sentenced to 2 years on charges of insulting the Leader and anti-regime propaganda
  • Rahman Sobhani, Kurdish political activist, sentenced to 6 months in prison and sent to Sanandaj prison to serve his term.
  • Ali-Hossein Tahmtan, Azeri activist, sentenced by Appeals to 6 months.
  • Two people hanged in Zahedan on Saturday.
  • Two public hangings on Monday in Bushehr.
  • One person hanged in Isfahan prison on Wednesday.


University – Culture

  • Tehran cinema shut for selling women Euro 2012 tickets.
  • Iranian actress arrested for not observing the Hejab rules.
  • Maziar Falahi’s concert was cancelled after police stormed the venue and arrested women for improper Hejab
  • Purge of Azad university directors: 42 replaced.
  • Tehran police chief: Over 4.5 million copies of immoral and illegal videos and computer games seized.
  • Intelligence and security stopped funeral of Iranian musician Hassan Kasaei.


Protests

  • 400 workers from Jian Company threatened to start a strike as they have not been paid for four months.
  • Hundreds of workers from the Parsian Company started a strike to protest not being paid for three months.
  • Fifty workers of green space in Ahwaz started a strike as a result of not having been paid for three months.
  • More than 120 workers of Keyvan Factory in Hamedan gathered in front of the factory to protest three months of delayed payment.


Economy in Iran

  • Iran plans to become hub for power transit to Europe.
  • The price of bread went up by 25%.
  • Iran Central Bank announces an official inflation rate of 22.2% for the month of May.
  • Last 3 monthly inflation rates in Iran per Central Bank: Esfand 21.5% – Farvardin 21.8% – Ordibehesht 22%.
  • 30% unemployment amongst 17-30 year old’s.
  • $1 = 1820 tomans on Saturday, 1825 on Sunday, euro at 2300 tomans.
  • Bread prices up 600% since December 2010.
  • 7 countries cleared from US sanctions (apart from 11 others), India, South Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Taiwan, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
  • Thirty workers of the Metal Industry Company have not been paid for three months.
  • Iran and Malaysia increase trade exchange.


Iran  abroad

  • Ahmadinejad meets with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Afghanistan’s Karzai in Shanghai.
  • Foreign ministry official goes to Cuba.
  • Tehran summons Saudi envoy over executed Iranians.
  • Russian FM Lavrov arrives in Iran
  • European Parliament condemns Iran’s violation of minorities’ rights.


Politics in Iran

  • Mohsen Rezaie to run for Iran presidency again.
  • Trade union representatives banned from talking to media about rise in prices.
  • Qom Marja complain about inflation.
  • Janatabad church in Tehran closed by authorities.


Miscellaneous

  • Mysterious explosion on Pasdar Street in city of Ilam.


US expels #Venezuela diplomat over #Iran cyberespionage allegations

Standard

Livia Acosta NogueraBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The United States has ordered the immediate expulsion of the head of the Venezuelan consulate in Miami, over allegations that she helped coordinate a cyberattack against US government targets in 2008. The diplomat, Livia Acosta Noguera, was declared “persona non grata” (an unwelcome person) by the US Department of State last Friday, and was given 72 hours to leave the country. State Department officials refused to discuss the reasons for Acosta’s expulsion. But the BBC said that the expulsion order was prompted by a letter sent last month to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by four members of the US Congress. The letter’s authors reportedly raised concerns about a documentary aired in December by Univision, a US-based Spanish-language broadcaster, titled “The Iranian Threat”. According to reports, the documentary alleged that Acosta was part of a multinational team of diplomats from Venezuela, Iran and Cuba, who, while stationed in Mexico in 2008, helped orchestrate a cyberespionage operation against US targets. The alleged operation was aimed at computer servers belonging to the US government computer, including some at the Department of Defense, the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the White House. Computer servers at several nuclear power plants across the US were also reportedly targeted. The documentary exposé, which later appeared in print in US-based Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald, included allegations that Acosta is in fact a member of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service, Venezuela’s foremost external intelligence agency. The allegations were refuted by several diplomats, including the Iranian ambassador in Mexico; but the US State Department reportedly decided to order the Venezuelan diplomat’s expulsion after consulting with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. News agency UPI reported on Monday that Acosta appeared to have left the country by Sunday afternoon, and that the Venezuelan consulate in Miami was closed. The agency contacted the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, about Acosta, and was told that a statement about the expulsion would be issued by the Venezuelan government in Caracas. But Venezuela had not published a statement as of late Monday night.

via US expels Venezuelan diplomat over cyberespionage allegations.