- May 10, 2017
The historic American preoccupation with Cuba is understandable – the island is a cork to the Gulf of Mexico bottle and all the shipping that flows in and out of it. The lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis 55 years ago still stands too, the Americans get dangerously twitchy if a hostile party gets entrenched there.
It may be time to get a little twitchy again.
Fairly soon Cuba will become a Post-Communist society, and if what we saw in Russia is anything to go by, the great-asset grab will be led by Party members arm in arm with organized criminals. However, it looks like the Iranians are already jostling their way in and spreading money around – in the interests of Cuban-Iranian Friendship, of course. That should get them real leverage in the coming spree.
Few Americans really understood just how deeply Iran – nigh broke under the weight of international sanctions for their weapons programs – had gotten into Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. However, Chavez is dead, Venezuela is collapsing… and Cuba is much closer to the Homeland of the Great Satan.
Iran hasn’t completely abandoned Venezuela and Tehran probably has high hopes for the new Venezuelan Vice President, Tareck El Aissami; who has one foot in the narcotics trafficking world and one in a Hezbollah combat boot. Hezbollah’s international smuggling rings and narcotics trafficking have long been useful to Iran, and yet leave the Mullahs with plausible deniability about all manner of dirty doings.
The Iranian government is also now rolling in cash now that the ‘Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action’ came into effect in 2016; and the regime has been reveling in the infusion of unfrozen capital. Anyone who thought that the deal would stop Iranian weapon’s development and mend Tehran’s truculent ways should – surely – have learned how wrong they were by now.
Now some of that cash is surfacing in Cuba. The two countries have been doing some trading since 2006; but Iran’s high level delegation to Havana in the summer of 2016 should cue some alarm. Iran’s sanction-busting banks in Venezuela have failed, but getting in on the ground floor of a surging Cuban economy will be much more useful. Cuba would be a way around export controls, and a convenient base to support propaganda, technology theft, and all manner of intelligence activities.
Cuba, however, has walked away from its former status as a sponsor of terrorism and no longer sends its soldiers to Africa or “Progressive” regimes in Latin America. Nor are the Cubans likely to tolerate the open presence of the goons of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the al Quds Force… Chavez let them into Venezuela but the Cubans won’t – probably.
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