Nicolás Maduro’s regime and Iran, his main ally, are moving their cards to put Donald Trump “between a rock and a hard place” to make the current U.S. president lose the forthcoming election.
Joseph Humire, a specialist in global security and executive director of the Center for a Free and Secure Society, spoke to the PanAm Post about the recent “moves” by the Persian regime, which would be using Venezuela as a key player to put pressure on Trump.
Humire considers that Iran is playing in a kind of chessboard against the United States and the international community to expose a challenge after the United Nations Organization (UNO) lifts the arms embargo against Iran.
“After October 18 this year, the UN arms embargo will end, and Iran will seek legitimacy through the sale of arms,” he explained.
Humire explained that for over 35 years, Iran had built the potential to have a military presence in the region, and in the last 15 years, Chávez and Maduro have given it that capability.
“Iran has built a dual-use infrastructure. It builds companies as a façade, which at first sight are legitimate, but behind that, there are hidden uses,” he says.
“For example, Iran has an auto industry in Venezuela, and at first sight, it is a legitimate business, but when it makes shipments of auto parts, it can hide other material such as explosives, minerals, or raw material for weapons,” he explained.
Humire pointed out that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Persian country’s special forces branch, has been present in the South American country for approximately 15 years. But he believes that it is no coincidence that it is now being done so publicly.
“This is a game of chess. If the embargo is lifted on October 18, the U.S. will invoke Resolution 2231 to get the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Iran. And the response [from Iran] and its allies in the UN will be to say that they don’t recognize these sanctions because they’ve met all the requirements, and now, they’ll sell weapons to whomever they want,” he explained.
Trump between a rock and a hard place
For Humire, Iran is working on building a narrative of victimhood due to sanctions as Maduro has been doing.
“Maduro and Iranian regimes want to make Trump look crazy or weak. If he does not do anything (about a potential arms shipment from Iran to Venezuela), he will look weak and risk his vote in Florida; but if he goes for military intervention, he will look crazy and lose the rest of the country’s votes. This is a maneuver to affect public opinion.
“They want to legitimize their presence in Venezuela. Iran is preparing to say it does not recognize U.S. sanctions and will seek to provoke a potential transfer of arms to Maduro. It will seek to turn the international community against the United States,” said the specialist
“This is going to happen weeks before the U.S. election, and it’s going to put Trump in a difficult position where he’s going to have to decide whether to do something to prevent the shipment of weapons from Iran to Venezuela, or whether to let it go,” he added.
“Perhaps there is an intermediate action. Because on the one hand, the most aggressive reaction could be some kind of military attack on the Maduro regime or these military installations in Venezuela, but that if it happens will be seen as an act of war. It is going to be seen as if the U.S. is provoking a war, and although Venezuelans may applaud, the majority of the international community will be against it,” he explained.
“The other extreme of the scenarios is that the United States does nothing, and in that scenario, Trump would look weak and unable to neutralize Iran or Maduro. At either end, it could make him look bad in the eyes of U.S. voters and could cause him to lose the election. However, I think there is an in-between and there are actions that could be taken that are not of a military nature,” he said.
“I think the shipment of fuel to Venezuela was a test before the shipment of weapons, and the United States showed that there are ways to neutralize such shipments. The U.S. has to prepare for this moment. The White House has to have clear scenarios and work a narrative that explains Iran’s intentions,” he said.