Global Insights: Ahmadinejad’s Latin American Tour Highlights Iran’s Isolation

Global Insights: Ahmadinejad’s Latin American Tour Highlights Iran’s Isolation

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s four-country Latin American tour last week was noticeable for its lack of achievements. The trip again underscored the gap between Tehran’s global ambitions and its constrained capabilities. Iran has yet to establish the means to challenge core U.S. economic, security and other interests in Latin America, and there is little likelihood of that changing in the future.

In recent years, Iran has sought to expand its economic ties as well as diplomatic partnerships and influence in Latin America. Thus far, however, Iran has only managed to develop close ties with a few regional governments that share ideological affinity with the current Iranian regime, seek its economic assistance and are eager to find extra-regional balances to the United States. The Iranian charm offensive’s disappointing return on investment reflects the fact that Iran has little to offer most Latin American countries.

It is true that Tehran’s presence in South America, especially, has increased noticeably since Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. Iran’s trade with several South American countries has grown significantly in that time. Meanwhile, several regional leaders have endorsed Iran’s self-proclaimed nuclear ambitions, and Tehran has opened six embassies in the region.

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