The April 22-25 visits of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Zimbabwe and to Uganda highlight Iran’s unrelenting quest for international partners ready to either associate with its anti-U.S., anti-West program or soften potential sanctions taking shape in the UN Security Council. The visits also allowed Iran to once-more denounce the meddling of the Obama Administration and proclaim itself the victim of U.S. discrimination and double standards.
In Africa, Iran repeated tactics it is employing successfully in Latin America with Venezuela’s Chavez and Brazil’s influential but misguided President Lula da Silva, who promises to visit Tehran in May.
Ahmadinejad’s Africa visit produced modest trade and investment agreements and even speculation about an oil-for-uranium swap in Zimbabwe. [Zimbabwe’s trade minister denied the rumor.] A dissenting member of the Movement for Democratic Change declared that inviting Ahmadinejad — “a warmonger,” “trampler of human rights,” and executioner” — to an investment forum in Zimbabwe was like “inviting a mosquito to cure malaria.”
The love fest between tyrants offered the 86-year-old Robert Mugabe, a skilled manipulator of African racial animosity, repression, and anti-West sentiments to share pointers with the theocratic Ahmadinejad whose brief includes squelching dissent, supporting the terrorism of Hamas and Hezbollah, anti-Zionist fantasies about Israel’s destruction, and a desire for a destabilizing and dangerous nuclear arsenal.
While the Obama Administration dreams of a utopian, nuclear-free world, tyrants like Mugabe and Ahmadinejad savor the far more immediate prospects of a consolidating a nuclear-friendly community of repressive, secretive, anti-Western regimes able to preserve political power, dilute and divide international opinion, and wear down an indecisive, divided and often distracted Obama Administration.