Banned Together: Iranian Ships in Venezuela Defy US Blockade
The arrival of five tankers with fuel sent by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Venezuelan coast marks a "very important milestone for Venezuela and Iran, as well as for the whole world," Gelfestein said.
According to the expert, Iran's energy assistance to Venezuela is confirmation that "there are mechanisms of solidarity among the countries that want to fight the imperialist hegemony of the United States". The alternative to this model is "to accept that we live in a world of imperative, sanctions and blockade because of the unilateral decision of single world power".
Rodriguez Gelfenstein emphasised that, although it was a commercial exchange between the two countries, the arrival of the ships also has a "political effect". In this sense, he valued Iran's "political will and courage", given that its ships effectively "ran a risk" by entering the Caribbean amid threats from the United States.
In his view, the American military managed to contain the military rhetoric of President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Gelfenstein believes that this was due to the spread of coronavirus in the United States, as well as the fact that 4 out of 11 US aircraft carriers are not on the move, the virus is raging on many American military bases.
"The coronavirus has affected the US military capability, so it would be incomprehensible to use the Armed Forces for a military invasion amid the pandemic", Gelfenstein believes.
The White House is also under pressure from a law passed in February that obliges the President to consult with the House before undertaking any military action against Iran. Although Trump has vetoed the law and the Senate has not been able to get the support it needs to lift the veto, Gelfenstein believes that "if Trump did start any military action against Iranian ships, it would be a reason for impeachment, ending his dreams of staying in power for another four years".
However, the Venezuelan analyst assures that this does not mean that the United States will not take any action in the future. He is sure that there will be no "military landings on the beach like in the XIX-XX centuries", on the contrary, Washington "will simply pay thousands of PMCs (private military companies ‒ ed. note Sputnik), which are abundant in the US and Colombia, as it is now the trend".
At the same time, according to Gelfenstein, the American invasion of Venezuela is in full swing: "in the field of trade, diplomacy, and politics".
However, Iran will be able to stand up for itself, believes the analyst:
"The Iranians have courage and the ability to respond, both politically and militarily. Gelfenstein notes that the US military "have realised that they will get a war in the Caribbean and huge problems in the Middle East" if they intervene.
In the case of military conflict in the Persian Gulf, Iran will block the Strait of Hormuz, which will leave Europe, Japan, China and East Asia without fuel.
Despite all the success of cooperation between Iran and Venezuela, Gelfenstein is sceptical that other Latin American countries will be able to improve their relations with Tehran. The reason is the "loyalty" of Latin American elites to the US and the lack of integration in the region.
"Latin America is a retrograde continent in the political sense. There is the African Union in Africa, the EU in Europe and ASEAN in Asia. There are integration mechanisms everywhere, but not in Latin America," the analyst recalls. Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance are the region's rival trade blocs.
According to him, the Latin American elites are responsible for making this region the only one in the world where "Cold War laws reign", where politics are defined by deals like the Lima Group, organised "with the sole purpose of overthrowing one particular government".
At the same time, although local elites are "subordinate" to the US, they allow themselves to have trade relations with China because "it is the only place in the world where there is money and where they can sell their goods".
Latin America's trade relations with Iran are much weaker. It "is being bombarded by the media" as "a country that has challenged US imperialist dominance in the Middle East", the expert says.
Under these conditions, "the Latin American tycoons, who do not need Iran as much as they need China, blindly submit to the US dictate. In this regard, one should not expect any progress in relations between the countries", Gelfenstein concludes.