One of the most, if not the most, clear and present threats to U.S. national security in the Western Hemisphere is the growing influence and support from the Islamic State of Iran to the dictatorial regime of Nicholas Maduro in Venezuela.
Days after the 2020 presidential election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden concluded, Iranian officials traveled to Venezuela to reiterate their unabated support for the Maduro regime, chided the U.S., and extended the opportunity to buy Iranian weapons, possibly short and mid-range ballistic missiles.
According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zari (pictured with Dictator Maduro), Iran believes the U.S. government no longer can “control what’s happening in the world” or show other countries how to protect citizens’ rights.
Speaking two days after the U.S. presidential election, Mohammad Javad Zarif said the era of “Western hegemony had ended” as he praised Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for resisting a U.S.-coordinated campaign to oust him.
“Today, the United States and its allies can’t control what’s happening in the world. They’ve lost control,” said Minister Zarif.
Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister who was with Minister Zarif during his visit, divulged that the Venezuela-Iran meeting was at a “climax” and that the regime was afforded the opportunity to buy Iranian arms if needed.
Yes, the Chinese and Russian presence in Venezuela poses a significant threat to the U.S. Most pressing though is the fact that Iran has sworn destruction to the U.S. and is willing to sell weapons to Maduro, possibly using Venezuela as an Islamist springboard to smuggle in their weaponized proxies, in particularly the terror group Hezbollah, to launch attacks against the U.S. and possibly its allies in Brazil and Colombia.
“This is a serious national security problem that cannot be ignored,” said Luis Fleischman, Ph.D., co-President of the Palm Beach Center for Democracy & Policy Research and director for the InterAmerican Institute for Democracy.
In an exclusive interview with The Floridian, Dr. Fleischman, who has extensive knowledge and grasp of the Maduro regime and its ties to the “Axis of Evil” in Latin America, expressed that for over a decade he has believed that even though Iran could place missiles in Venezuela, the real Iranian threat to the U.S. was “not necessarily a direct military danger” but the real ability of Iran to launch “ possible terrorist attacks” from countries like Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua.
These three countries are sympathetic to the Iranian cause and by using its proxies such as Hezbollah, could facilitate further crimes and acts of terror in the Western Hemisphere.
Fleischmann also brought up that Hezbollah in Venezuela has dug tunnels into Colombia, and from Mexico to the U.S., similar to those the terror group has built along the Lebanese-Israeli border in Israel.
Hezbollah is known to have been working alongside Mexican drug cartels who have helped facilitate the digging of the tunnels.
“We know that there are tunnels that have been built in the border between Mexico and the United States and these tunnels look pretty much like the tunnels that Hezbollah built at the Lebanese-Israeli border,” said Fleishmann. “These (tunnels) are extremely dangerous for the United States because they may smuggle terrorists into the United States, and that in turn may enable the Iranians to strike on American soil in retaliation.”
So what should the U.S. do with Maduro’s criminal regime and the threat it poses to the U.S.?
According to Fleischmann, who believes the Trump administration’s sanctions against Maduro have been effective and supports U.S. companies to continue operating in Venezuela, more sanctions and even a naval blockade is needed to keep Iranian assets and military weapons out of Venezuela.
“I also believe that the United States should impose a sort of naval blockade to make sure that nothing gets into Venezuela, and control exactly everything that comes in and goes out of Venezuela,” said Fleischmann
Fleischmann’s call for a U.S. naval blockade of Venezuela has already been suggested by Florida Senator Rick Scott (R) in May 2019, when Maduro refused to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country.
Sen. Scott told Trump on a flight on Air Force One that he “MUST consider using naval assets” in a way similar to the blockade used against Cuba in 1962 so that sanctions could be effectively enforced.
The biggest criticism that President Trump has received in regards to Venezuela has been his refusal to grant Temporary Protection Status to Venezuelans, but all that could change in the coming weeks if Trump decides to unilaterally act, and not wait on the U.S. Congress to present him a ‘clean’ TPS for Venezuelans measure to sign.
Because of his hardline foreign policy against Marxism and the Maduro regime’s corruption and human rights violations, Cuban-Americans and Venezuelan-Americans voted in large numbers to reelect President Trump.
With the presidential election results still in flux, President-elect Joe Biden has already signaled that he would all but end the U.S. relationship with Interim President Juan Guaido, and that Biden would look to re-establish normalized relations with both Communist Cuba and Maduro’s criminal regime in Venezuela.