Who knew that Iran itself would undermine all the crazy arguments about how Iran is making dangerous inroads into Latin America? One of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's advisers went public about how Brazil isn't playing ball the way it used to. Not only that, but Iran appears to get testy when countries don't stand by it.
In recent months, however, trade ties between the two nations have frayed somewhat. Brazil’s exports to Iran climbed to $2.1 billion in 2010 from $1.2 billion a year earlier. But now some Brazilian companies have complained that it has become harder to obtain Iranian import licenses, curbing what had been an otherwise dynamic market for Brazil.
“Since October, we noticed an abrupt break in purchases by Iran,” said Francisco Turra, president of the Brazilian Poultry Union, a trade group. He said that officials at Iran’s Embassy in Brasília and at Brazil’s Embassy in Tehran had assured his group that Brazilian exports were still welcome in Iran. Mr. Turra said he was awaiting the release of the new export statistics to determine how to proceed.
This strategy sounds quite similar to the United States during the Cold War. If you get all non-aligned on us, then we'll find a way to make you pay. Unlike the U.S., however, Iran has no political influence and limited economic leverage so these gestures carry little weight.
Dilma Rousseff has shown herself to be less interested in inserting Brazil into Middle Eastern politics and more interested in human rights abuses in Iran than Lula. Strangely enough, the Iranian government keeps saying that Ahmadinejad plans to visit Brazil this year. As sanctions tighten, Iran really wants to showcase how it has ties to major countries like Brazil, but I wonder whether Rousseff wants to stick her neck out that far.