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Iran, China and the Panama Canal: Is the US Being Encircled? - The Gatestone Institute - 14.03.23

by Lawrence A. Franklin.


Iran and China are on the move again. Last Friday, to the apparent surprise of the Biden Administration, China asserted its influence in the Middle East by entering the vacuum created by US President Joe Biden, and brokering a deal between Iran and its threatened neighbor, Saudi Arabia, which Biden had vowed to make a "pariah," and "end the sale of material" to it. The Saudis heard.


Iran, meanwhile, has not been shy about its mission to "export the revolution" to the Western hemisphere. Most recently, in February, two Iranian warships docked in Brazil, under its recently elected socialist President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. From there, the ships will reportedly proceed to the Panama Canal, already controlled at both ends by Iran's newish ally -- the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


The Chinese Communist Party officially declared a "people's war" on the US on May 14, 2019, in flagship news[paper, the People's Daily, as well as before that, on January 29, 2017, even if the US was not listening.


Iran has high praise for da Silva. He has refused to join the US-led sanctions regime against Tehran, and has stated repeatedly that Iran has the right to develop peaceful nuclear programs and that the Islamic Republic should be taken at its word until proven otherwise by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the IAEA, however, Iran seems to have been cheating the "whole time."


Now according to reports, Iran is just days away from being able to create its nuclear bombs, just as the 2015 JCPOA "nuclear deal" allowed it to do, anyway. The Biden Administration, like the Obama Administration, is most likely just trying to avoid having Iran going full nuclear "on my watch," as Obama let slip in 2015.


In a visible challenge to US dominance in the Western Hemisphere, the Iranian ships will proceed to the Panama Canal, at both ends of which sits -- China.

"It's no secret that China has been pouring resources into South America this century, chipping away at the United States' historic dominance." — Buenos Aires Times, February 18, 2022.


Is the US being encircled?


Iran and China are on the move again. Last Friday, to the apparent surprise of the Biden Administration, China asserted its influence in the Middle East by entering the vacuum created by US President Joe Biden, and brokering a deal between Iran and its threatened neighbor, Saudi Arabia, which Biden had vowed to make a "pariah," and "end the sale of material" to it. The Saudis heard.


Iran, meanwhile, has not been shy about its mission to "export the revolution" to the Western hemisphere. Most recently, in February, two Iranian warships docked in Brazil, under its recently elected socialist President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva. From there, the ships will reportedly proceed to the Panama Canal, already controlled at both ends by Iran's newish ally -- the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).


The CCP officially declared a "people's war" on the United States on May 14, 2019, in its flagship newspaper, the People's Daily, as well as before that, on January 29, 2017, even if the US was not listening.


Iran has been openly infiltrating South America for decades. In 1994, it famously blew up a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, killing 85 people. Recently, while the Biden Administration has been pursuing a "nuclear deal" with Iran -- one that will enable it soon to have as many nuclear weapons as it likes -- Iran has been expanding its already sizeable foothold south of the US border. The militant Islamic theocracy already has a significant presence -- and presumably influence -- in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. It is now targeting Brazil and the Panama Canal.


Brazilian President da Silva has a history of welcoming Iran. In 2009, during his previous presidential term, he warmly greeted then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during his state visit to Brazil. Da Silva will decidedly shift from the pro-US and pro-Israel foreign policy of his predecessor, President Jair Bolsonaro, to one that favors friendly ties with Iran.


Da Silva, who served as Brazil's president from 2003 to 2010, barely defeated Bolsonaro in a runoff election last October. A left-wing populist, da Silva drew support from Brazilians who benefited by his liberal welfare policies, particularly access to affordable health care, during his previous terms as president.


Under the Bolsonaro administration (2019-2022), diplomatic links between Iran and Brazil were chilly. His investigation of Hezbollah and its activities in the tri-border zone of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina resulted in the 2018 arrest of the terrorist group's regional financier Assad Ahmad Barakat. Bolsonaro's support for Israel, on the other hand, was shown by the first visit ever by an Israeli Prime Minister to Brazil: Benjamin Netanyahu attended Bolsonaro's inauguration in 2019.


Iran welcomed da Silva's election and the warming of relations with Brazil it expects will ensue. Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kanaani, was quick to congratulate da Silva on his election. The congratulatory message from Hamas politburo member Basir Naim, was, not surprisingly, that Hamas "looks forward to President Lula mitigating all the effects of the unlimited support [from Bolsonaro] for the Israeli Occupation State."


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Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin 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.


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Iran has not been shy about its mission to "export the revolution" to the Western hemisphere. Most recently, in February, two Iranian warships docked in Brazil. Pictured: The Iranian warship Iris Makran sails off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on February 27, 2023. (Photo by Carl de Souza/AFP via Getty Images)

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