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The Latin American Gang of Five—and Iran

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Unread 12.02.11, 02:44 PM
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The Latin American Gang of Five—and Iran

On 12.02.11 01:00 PM posted by Jen Gieselman

When the U.N. General Assembly voted on resolution A/RES/66/12 in late November, it passed easily with 106 votes. What was unusual about the otherwise routine vote was that several notable countries voted against it.

The resolution, which was introduced by Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by more than 50 nations including the U.S., was intended to condemn terrorism, specifically criticizing Iran’s alleged involvement in the plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. The text “encouraged Member States to take additional steps to prevent, on their territories, the planning, financing, sponsorship or organization of terrorist acts, and to deny safe haven to those who engaged in such activities.” While most members were quick to denounce terrorism and vote for the resolution, a number of countries dissented, claiming that the condemnation of Iran is unjust without more evidence of its involvement in the assassination plot.

Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Ecuador made up the majority of the nine member states that voted against the resolution. These five countries have more in common than identical votes: They are members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of America, known by its Spanish initials as ALBA. ALBA was created to offer member countries alternatives to trading with the U.S. However, it is clear that this group is about more than economic policies. Over the years, ALBA nations have exhibited close ties to Iran, a fact only reinforced by the U.N. vote. Last year, the same five countries met in Tehran, where they officially condemned sanctions imposed on Iran.

Of particular concern is the tightening relationship between Iran and Venezuela. Although the extent to which Hezbollah is operating in Venezuela is disputed (at the very least, it is using the country for fundraising), it is clear that the Iranian-backed terrorist organization has gained a foothold in Venezuela. Chavez and company continue to prioritize friendship with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad above international peace and security.

Although the U.N. vote was largely symbolic, it is indicative of the Gang of Five’s anti-U.S., pro-Iran agenda and is a hearty slap in the face to President Obama’s conciliatory policies toward the group.

Jen Gieselman is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

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