Although there are signs that Iran is tamping down violence in Iraq there are also worrying signs that Iran is ramping up for another round of international terror. Israeli intelligence has noted that Iranian Embassies are in Venezuela and Nicaragua have over 30 staffers each – far out of proportion to the scale of relations between these countries – and is expanding its diplomatic presence throughout the region. The Iranian presence in Nicaragua has become so extensive that Iran’s Ambassador in Managua actually gave an interview denying there were any Pasdaran in Nicaragua (a sure sign that they are in fact there.) There have also been a number of incidents in the United States with the Iranian mission at the UN. Every country uses its Embassy for a bit of espionage. But the Iranian tradition far exceeds the norm. Considering the long involvement of Iranian diplomats with terrorism, US military claims of Iranian diplomats engaged in inappropriate activities in Iraq should be given some credence.
This Iranian network will be well supported by Hezbollah’s extensive international fundraising network. Besides the well-documented Hezbollah activities in the Tri-Border region drug dealing and counterfeiting cells with Hezbollah links have been found recently in Ecuador and Los Angeles. There are major centers of Lebanese Shia in Isle Margherita in Venezuela and in East Africa. Hezbollah works along family connections so where there are large numbers of Lebanese Shia, there is sure to be Hezbollah.
While the respite in violence in Iraq is certainly welcome – and hopefully does represent a real policy shift – Iran’s capacity to strike worldwide remains and Western abilities to forecast Iranian intentions are notably weak.