by Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin who was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve.
The land grant will ostensibly be used to grow staple crops... allowing water-starved Iran to better feed its population. Iran's current use of Venezuela, however... combined with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), raise the possibility that Iran and its surrogate terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, might be using the vast acreage for military and terrorist operations.
The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hezbollah's long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hezbollah activities on Venezuela's Margarita Island [a tourist area northeast of the country's mainland].
Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela's military against the US, for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Columbia.
Iran's alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target US interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States.
China, Russia and Iran were reported to be running military drills in Latin America last month. According to the Center for a Secure Free Society, this is a "strategic move that seeks to preposition forward deployed military assets in Latin America and the Caribbean."
Iran, along with Venezuela, seems to be using its influence with other Latin American governments to develop an anti-US coalition in America's backyard. In addition, Iran sent a destroyer, the Sahand, and a support vessel -- the intelligence-gathering Makran -- to Venezuela in the spring of 2021. The Makran set sail on the mission "with seven high-speed missile-attack craft strapped to its deck."
Iran's massive interference in Venezuela's affairs should raise concerns about the hemisphere's democracies and whether Caracas is still sovereign.
Iran and Venezuela also appear to have established an air bridge between Tehran and Caracas. The flights are manned by Iranian crews and enable both regimes to maintain secrecy in the possible global transport of weapons and terrorist operatives.
Tehran's cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic's support for Hezbollah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America.
Occasionally Iranians have been apprehended by US border guards illegally crossing America's long, porous border with Mexico. These illegal aliens could be fulfilling passive missions such as manning Iran's Hezbollah cells in the US, while others could be commissioned to execute intelligence or terrorist-support operations.
Latin America's Iranian Hezbollah network appears poised to strike democratic interests throughout the hemisphere.
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Pictured: Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei meets with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Tehran on June 11, 2022. (Image source: khamenei.ir)