• Sunday, June 7, 2020

‘Ripe for a showdown’: As Iranian tankers close in, the stakes are rising in Venezuela

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Dalit, May 24, 2020.

  1. Dalit

    Dalit ELITE MEMBER

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    [​IMG]
    • Iranian tankers are heading to Venezuela with much-needed gasoline, a shipment the US has warned it may take action against.
    • Venezuela has found common cause with regimes that oppose the US, like Iran, Russia, and China.
    • The return of “great-power competition” has raised the stakes of the crisis in the South American country.
    • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
    The arrival of Iranian tankers carrying gasoline to Venezuela will be another link between two of the Trump administration’s most implacable foes, but the exchange and the response underscore Venezuela’s growing role as a venue for competition between the US and its rivals.

    The first of the five tankers will arrive in the next few days and the rest by early June. Their 1.5 million barrels of gasoline are enough for 52 days in Venezuela, where coronavirus-related restrictions have reduced fuel consumption, according to Venezuelan economist Francisco Rodriguez.

    Venezuela needs gas because mismanagement of its oil sector, exacerbated by US sanctions, has diminished supply. Iran, which has supplied materials to help restart Venezuelan refineries, needs to ease a fuel glut caused by declining global demand and strict US sanctions on its exports.

    The US has said it is “looking at measures that can be taken” in response to the shipment. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that if Iranian tankers in the Caribbean or elsewhere “face trouble caused by the Americans,” then the US “will also be in trouble.”

    US officials told The Wall Street Journal this week that they were still weighing a response. Some reportedly argued the US should only act if the shipments become a regular occurrence. Others advocated confiscation through legal means or direct intervention with military forces in the Caribbean, where the US has a number of ships and aircraft deployed for a counter-narcotics campaign announced in April.

    At a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday, Russia said that the campaign was “troubling context.”

    “What is the real aim of the American navy parade in the Caribbean?” a Russian official said. “We also hope Washington fully realizes the risks of incidents when deploying [Navy destroyers] USS Lassen, USS Preble, and USS Farragut in an area where Iranian oil tankers are involved in legal activity near Venezuela.”

    Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said Thursday that he was not aware of any operations or plans in relation to the oil shipment, which he said was a violation of sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and an issue of “global concern.”

    Adm. Craig Faller, head of the US military command responsible for the region, declined to address the tankers on Monday during an online event hosted by Florida International University, saying only that he viewed “Iranian activity globally and in Venezuelan in specific as a concern.”

    Venezuela’s defense minister said Thursday that the country’s navy and air force would escort the tankers once they reached Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 miles from its coast. At Security Council meeting Thursday, Venezuela’s ambassador said Caracas would regard an attempt to block the tankers as an “act of war.”

    ‘Ripe for some kind of showdown’
    Iran and Venezuela have longstanding ties, forged by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez, who sought alliances to counter the US.

    Tehran and Caracas are “both rogue regimes trying to kick dust in the face of Uncle Sam, finding common cause in their radical political programs but also their anti-American stances,” Cynthia Arnson, director of the Latin American program at the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank, said Thursday during the Florida International University event.

    The likelihood of the Venezuelan and US militaries soon being in close proximity, along with Iranian tankers loaded with gasoline, has raised fears of escalation.

    The situation is “just ripe for some kind of showdown, for some kind of even electoral gambit by the Trump administration,” Arnson said, adding that “rogue regimes” like Iran “have been critical … to Maduro’s survival, and I think we’re headed toward a potentially very dangerous moment.”

    Geoff Ramsey, the director for Venezuela at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human-rights advocacy group, said escalation would be “wildly irresponsible” and that the best way to address the gas crisis would be a negotiated humanitarian accord that includes some sanctions relief and greater international assistance.

    “These tankers have a month and a half’s worth of gas supply, at most, so the best thing to do would be to sit back and point out that this shipment is not going to resolve the country’s problems,” Ramsey said, adding that resorting to importing gas from around the world isn’t a win for Maduro “by any stretch of the imagination.”

    Acting against the tankers is unlikely to achieve what the US wants in Venezuela, according to Heather Heldman, a former State Department official.

    “For the US, obviously the goal in Venezuela is regime change. But when you ask the question, does intervening in this shipment really advance that goal, I think the answer is uncertain at best and likely no,” Heldman said.

    A clash with the tankers would likely draw retaliation against the US or its assets in the Middle East without affecting Maduro’s hold on power or improving the humanitarian or economic situation in Venezuela, Heldman said, adding that it may distract from the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus but would give Iran a propaganda victory.

    “I think the best course of action is to assume a posture that prioritizes monitoring or surveillance and sends a message that that aggression is not welcome,” Heldman said. “I don’t think that there’s anything to be gained by instigating any type of exchange of fire.”

    ‘Return of great power rivalry’
    [​IMG]

    The US and Iran exchanged fire in early January when the US assassinated a senior Iranian general in Iraq and Tehran responded by firing ballistic missiles as Iraqi bases, wounding US troops. That raised concerns about Iranian retaliation elsewhere, including in Latin America, where Iranian actors have long been active.

    Iran now deepening its involvement in Venezuela “makes a lot of sense from a narrative point of view,” said Heldman, now a managing partner at strategic advisory firm Luminae Group.

    “Bringing these confrontations outside of Middle Eastern theaters … and into the Western Hemisphere is a way to escalate broader tensions and force the US to engage with these powers much closer to home or in a different manner,” Heldman added.

    Juan Cruz, a former Trump administration National Security Council staffer, said Iran’s engagement with Venezuela was “made perfectly” for its foreign policy.

    “For a small investment, they get to stick their thumb in the eye of the US, and they played this piece over the gasoline with Venezuela brilliantly,” Cruz said during the Florida International University event.

    [​IMG]

    Iran is not the only one invested. Russia has given extensive political, military, and economic support, which has exposed it to US sanctions. China has given Venezuela military hardware and tens of billions of dollars in loans; while Beijing has stopped issuing new loans, it maintains diplomatic ties.

    Cuba, dependent on Venezuelan fuel, provides security assistance credited with keeping Maduro in power, and Turkey has been an outlet for the Maduro government’s sale of gold.

    “The international dimension is absolutely critical” in Venezuela, Arnson said Thursday.

    “The broader strategic takeaway for me, and the way that I’m positioning this for my clients,” Heldman said, “is that we need to start … thinking about Venezuela as the theater of choice for broader geopolitical confrontation between various parties that are vying to challenge the US hegemony in a variety of arenas.”

    Harold Trinkunas, an expert on the region at Stanford University, said the US would be unable to isolate Venezuela and that the growing geopolitical stakes there make it harder for the US to convince countries with interests counter to its own.

    “What we have to remember is that Venezuela is now caught up in the return of great-power rivalry,” Trinkunas said Thursday during the Florida International University event. “As China, the US, and Russia compete around the world, Venezuela is just one more place where this is happening. Just as we see this happening in Syria or Libya or Southeast Asia, Venezuela is now part of this.”

    https://www.businessinsider.nl/iran...-rivalry-venue-2020-5?international=true&r=US
     
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  2. Dalit

    Dalit ELITE MEMBER

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    The US deep state is now contemplating how to go about fabricating regime change in Venezuela. The only problem is that Iran, Russia and China are bringing the game to US backyard.
     
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  3. Clutch

    Clutch ELITE MEMBER

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    The Iranians blackmailed the desperate Venezuelans into giving their gold for some cheap gasoline.

    With friends like Iran, who needs enemies???

    US: Maduro Pays Iran In Gold For Oil Services
    By Tsvetana Paraskova - May 01, 2020, 2:30 PM CDT
    Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela is paying Iran in gold for help with Venezuela’s crumbling oil industry, U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela Elliott Abrams said at a conversation with Washington-based think tank Hudson Institute this week.

    Over the past few weeks, Iran has been sending more and more planes to Venezuela, Abrams said.

    “Our guess is that they are being paid in gold,” he said, referring to the payment for Iran, at the Hudson Institute, a conservative Washington think tank.
     
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  4. Dalit

    Dalit ELITE MEMBER

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    The Iranians are cashing the situation it has to be said. The Iranians are killing two birds with one stone. Absolutely humiliating the US deep state by sending the tankers and also earning some gold in the process. My focus is how the US deep state is going to react now with multiple players ganging up in US backyard. I predict a wait and see approach by the US deep state. There is nothing much US deep state can do. Agitating or even attacking Iranian tankers is going to backfire. China and Russia are waiting for the US deep state to react.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  5. tower9

    tower9 FULL MEMBER

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    So Iran, a sovereign state, is sending its own oil to Venezuela, another sovereign state, and this is supposed to be an "act of aggression"? Damn these Deep State warmongers are fucking insane.
     
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  6. Philosopher

    Philosopher FULL MEMBER

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    You are looking at this completely wrong my friend. Venezuela is in desperate need for this Iranian shipment, not just because of its fuel but the equipment on board that will help them fix their own oil related facilities. In return, they are giving Iran what it needs, i.e gold (assuming Iran even got gold from them). Have a listen to Mr Maduro and see if you feel like he is being blackmailed by Iran.



    Iran will continue to help Venezuela in face of these pressures.
     
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  7. masterchief_mirza

    masterchief_mirza SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why does Iran have a need for gold? For barter trade?
     
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  8. Philosopher

    Philosopher FULL MEMBER

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    Yes, essentially it is another source of revenue for Iran. Also, the more gold Iran has, the more it could back its currencies. There was some news not long ago about a potential Iranian gold backed cryptocurrency.
     
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  9. Ahmet Pasha

    Ahmet Pasha SENIOR MEMBER

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    I feel that the global peace BS propoganda is starting to unravel and powerful bully nations are now openly bullying other nations. UN becomes irrelevant with every passing day.

    African Union does better peacekeeping than UN.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2020
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  10. dbc

    dbc PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    The US has no legal grounds to take action against the Iranian shipment. I doubt Iran is sending supplies to fix Venezuelan refineries. Because the ones operated by Venezuela can only refine light crude and not the heavy oil that is produced in Venezuela. Unless the news report is wrong and the Iranian assistance is meant to repair oil production facilities?
     
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  11. Philosopher

    Philosopher FULL MEMBER

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    Alongside the gasoline, they have sent technical assistance and equipments to help the Venezuelans repair their refinery.

    https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/14883
     
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  12. tower9

    tower9 FULL MEMBER

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    Iran is barred from the dollar, so gold is valuable to them.
     
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  13. Pan-Islamic-Pakistan

    Pan-Islamic-Pakistan ELITE MEMBER

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    There is no free ride. Iran is taking risks to help Venezuela and their currency is useless. Gold seems like the logical choice.

    I praise Iran's progressive policy in Latin America. Really I am a great fan of Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad, great leader he was.

    More Muslim countries should join Iran in Latin America.
     
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  14. IceCold

    IceCold PDF VETERAN

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    What did the US expect, from south east Asia to middle East everywhere, US is involved one way or the other, pitching one regime against the other. Did the US believe that it won't come back to US? Has the US learnt nothing from the Cuban missile crisis? US routinely meddles in Taiwan, Crimea, Syria, it is only logical for China, Russia and Iran to start supporting Cuba and Venezuela against the US with oil, weapons and money. Let the Americans have a taste of their own medicine.
     
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