Brazil, Argentina Play Nice with Iran

In June of 2008, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohsen Rezai, two of the Iranian officials whose arrest warrants Interpol issued, travelled to Saudi Arabia to attend a Muslim conference hosted by the Saudi government. The Saudi government, however, made no attempt to detain or arrest Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani or Mohsen Rezai during their visit to Saudi Arabia, and the two departed Saudi Arabia without incident.

A federal court in Argentina also issued an international arrest warrant for Samuel Salman al-Reda, a Colombian of Lebanese descent. Reda, who had lived in Buenos Aires until the day of the bombing, then disappeared. He is believed to be living in Lebanon with his Argentinian wife. According to state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who headed the investigation, Reda was the link between Tehran and Hezbollah in the bombing plot.

Argentina's government did approach the UN to reproach the Iranian government, though the two countries did continue to maintain diplomatic and trade relations, however cold and tenuous. What is certain is that Iran has long been trying to develop a policy of rapprochement with Latin American countries to try to garner support for itself in addressing the international sanctions. In the last three years, Ahmadinejad has made several trips to the region, particularly Venezuela and Brazil, and was visited by several Latin American presidents including Bolivia's Evo Morales.

Brazil, under the leadership of Lula da Silva, supported Iran, but Tehran’s flippant attitude in the face of Brazil's desire to gain prominence as a mediator in the Middle East seems to have become highly distasteful to Brazilian authorities. The chance to get away from Tehran and to once again get into the good graces of Washington came with the election of the new Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, who claims to believe in much more rigorous methods in dealings with Tehran; so far, however, there is no such evidence, given Rouseff’s newly strengthened alliance with China and Russia and her willing participation in the BRICS group conference in southern China this month.