The Corner

Ahmadinejad’s Triumphs

The Islamic Republic News Agency has published a feature on Ahmadinejad’s “triumphs” in the “backyard of the United States.” I append the list below, and the Persian language original is on the latest Iran News Round Up on IranTracker.org. The list should be of interest for two reasons:

First, it gives a sense of how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad casts his legacy at home. It is in this context that the timing of President Obama’s outreach to Tehran could not have been a bigger gift to the Iranian incumbent. Not only can Ahmadinejad brag to Iranians inclined to negotiate with the Great Satan that it was his strategy (and not that of the reformers) who delivered the ultimate prize, but he can then pander to his hardcore supporters by rhetorically humiliating the United States. Indeed, he did this on Saturday when he asked domestic critics of his diplomatic style, “We ask this, [when] you see that the United States is fleeing from our borders and does not even dare to threaten us, do you call this increased cost?”

Second, it also shows how hard the Islamic Republic has scrambled to increase its diplomatic base (I address this further in “Iran’s Global Ambition.”) Too often, White House officials take Latin America (and Africa) for granted and defer their handling to the State Department or other fairly low-level positions. It’s time we meet the Iranian diplomatic challenge head on and scramble as hard for friends as they do.

At any rate, courtesy of IRNA (h/t Ali Alfoneh), here are Ahmadinejad’s triumphs:

1.       Strengthening of relations with friendly countries of the region like Venezuela through expansion of political relations, high level trips and the like.

2.       Establishment of a negotiations rounds every six months to one year at deputy foreign minister level.

3.       Attempt at improving Iran/Argentina relations.

4.       Establishment of embassies in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

5.       Establishment of trade offices in…San Paolo, in Panama.

6.       Establishment of an Iran/Latin America Chamber of Commerce…

7.       Investigation of activating a shipping office in Sao Paolo.

8.       Establishment of direct flights (both passenger and cargo) with countries in the region.

9.       Establishment of commercial companies with a number of countries in the region.

10.    Establishment of a joint bank with Venezuela…

11.    Membership in the Southern Bank.

12.    Establishment of a joint company to engage in oil projects.

13.    Establishment of an oil transportation company.

14.    Establishment of a joint petrochemical company.

15.    Realization of projects with regard to establishment of multilateral commercial companies.

16.    Membership in ALBA.

17.    Establishment of chairs in Persian language and Iranian studies at universities of the region and strengthening of existing chairs.

18.    Arranging seminars discussing politics, culture and economy at regional universities.

19.    Establishment of a branch of the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency office in Rio…

20.    Arranging cultural and art festivals.

21.    Establishment of Iran/Latin American countries friendship associations.

22.    Expediting cultural attaches to a number of countries in Latin America.

23.    Establishing a House of Iran in Venezuela.

24.    Expansion of connections with regional newspapers.

25.    Establishment of diplomatic relations with Bolivia.

26.    Opening of embassies in Santiago, Bogota and Managua.

27.    Expediting special envoys to Bolivia and Ecuador…

28.    Opening of Nicaragua’s embassy in Tehran.

29.    The President’s visits to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba.

30.    Visit of the Speaker of the Parliament to Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela.

31.    Other cabinet minister visits to Latin American countries; e.g.:

a.       Foreign Minister’s visit to Cuba and Venezuela.

b.       Commerce Minister’s visit to Cuba and Venezuela.

c.        Agricultural Minister’s visit to Venezuela and Cuba.

d.       Mines Minister’s visit to Venezuela

e.        Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Director General’s visit to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua

f.        Deputy minister’s visit to various countries of the region

g.        Parliamentary visits from Latin America to Iran

h.       President of Venezuela’s three visits to Iran

i.         Parliamentary groups from Columbia, Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba to Tehran to participate at the Conference Supporting the Inalienable Rights of the People of Palestine

j.         Defense cooperation with Venezuela

k.       Educational seminars for diplomats from Bolivia and Venezuela

l.         Arrangement of the first course in Persian language at university level in Venezuela.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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