Persians of The Caribbean- Iranian Weapons Threatening Shipping Through the Caribbean

During last week, Venezuela conducted a military parade to commemorate the 200th anniversary to one of the main battles fought against Spain during Venezuela’s war of independence.
During the parade, Venezuela displayed Zolfaghar class fast boats armed with anti-ship missiles, received from Iran in the past few years. The Zolfaghar boats are meant to operate relatively close to shore and are not designed for long-range deep-sea travel. The missile containers mounted on the boats shown in videos released by Venezuela can match those of the Nasr or Noor family missiles, that have a maximum range of 120 miles.

These boats and missiles join the other weapon shipments Venezuela received from Iran.
These shipments included, among other things, 107 mm short range rocket launchers, smart bombs and different types of UAV’s, some with a range of over 1,600 miles (Mohajer 6 and Shahed 136).

To what purpose and against who is Venezuela arming itself?
Keep in mind that Venezuela’s coast line is adjacent to international shipping lanes connecting the Panama canal and Europe. In other words, Iranian made ships and missiles operated by Venezuela can threaten these routes, much like the case of the Persian Gulf.
Another possible scenario is a direct military action taken by IRGC operatives stationed in Venezuela. They can target US assets or navy ships in the Caribbean or directly attack American soil. Miami is less than 1,200 miles away from the Venezuelan coast.

These developments are not singular events. In the past few years there has been an increase in Iranian influence in South America, especially in countries that are less known for their ties with the US.

In the civilian field, Iran has strengthened its ties with several countries in the region and especially with Venezuela, which became Iran’s most prominent ally in South America. The relations between the countries are so close that Iran stated it considers Venezuela as part of its “Shia axis”.
Apart from the similar attitude towards the US, the relations between Iran and different countries in the region relies on trade and on Iranian assistance, consulting, financing, and building of different infrastructural projects. For example, Iran assisted building dams in Bolivia and Ecuador in the past few years. In addition, last month (June 2023) Iran’s president made a visit to Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, during which he signed a series of agreements in the fields of trade, science and culture. In another military agreement signed a few weeks ago, Iran pledged to supply Bolivia with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In the military field, Iran is strengthening its influence in the region by using Hezbollah and the IRGC infrastructure. These organizations have rooted themselves deeply in South America through criminal enterprises, and especially through manufacturing, selling, and trafficking of drugs. These enterprises are used as a main financial source but also as a tool for creating local infrastructure and networks, that can later be used as a forward base for implementing terror and subversion actions in the Americas, including against US soil.

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Boaz Shapira

Boaz Shapira

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