Friday, June 05, 2020

Iran Has Failed in Latin America

Stephen Johnson has an article in Foreign Policy arguing that Iran is trying to revive its presence in Latin America, with gas tanker arrivals being a prominent example. Fair enough as a starting point. Then the article goes in an interesting direction, serving as a solid narrative about how much Iran has failed completely in the region. Indeed, there is mostly evidence that Iran is no position to do much at all--it has financial problems and few allies.

I've written a lot of posts over many years about Iran in Latin America. To some degree, every one was about how the threat Iran allegedly posed was extremely overestimated. Here is my assessment over 13 years ago:
In short, I don’t think Iran will be much involved with Latin America. Unfortunately, however, the U.S. government has yet to demonstrate that it can offer any real alternatives to the rhetorical bluster. Instead, it usually just offers up its own bluster.
Lots and lots of talk. Now back to Johnson:
By some accounts, there was growing disappointment among Iran’s senior leaders over years of costly investments that never paid off.
And the rest of his article sustains that. After all these years, a lot of headlines, a lot of articles written, and a lot of high-profile visits, there is very little there there, so to speak. Any revived influence at all requires a highly unlikely scenario of Iran-friendly governments, strong economic growth, and consensus within Iran that this is worth the trouble. Even then, there is not much to revive because there wasn't much there to begin with.


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