Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has arrived in Havana. Reports say he is scheduled to call on Fidel Castro. Cuba has extended a red carpet welcome to Ahmedinejad. He was coming in from Nicaragua where Daniel Ortega had invited him to be his guest of honor for Ortega’s inagural ceremony for a second term as president.
The US is furious
that Iran is far from ‘isolated’ internationally. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took it out on Fidel. “Iran and Cuba are both state-sponsors of terrorism, and need to be treated as immediate threats to our national security… Just as the Iranian regime has rejected every overture by the Administration, the Castro regime will never be coddled into changing its ways.”
Curious that political Islam and the Left have come together. The magical glue is resistance. A developed and politically articulated accommodation is apparent today between Islamism as a political force and the Left in Latin America. Ahmedinejad is seen as exemplifying a new form of international anti-imperialism that strikes resonance in the Latin American Left’s consciousness as it is identifiable with their own historic project. Thus, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez repeatedly travelled to Tehran to embrace Ahmedinejad.
Ahmednejad’s current tour reinforces this new language of political accommodation between the two sides, overcoming the melancholy history of the Cold War when the West conspired to pit Marxism against Islam for making geopolitical gains in the oil-rich Middle East. Of course, not many would know that there was also an a priori history going back to the Bolshevik revolution in Russia.
The Soviet leadership under Vladimir Lenin promoted an anti-imperialist movement in Asia against the colonial powers and viewed the militant Islamists as allies in the liberation struggle. At the second congress of the Comintern in 1920, this was quite evident.
The political idiom being heard
during the current tour of Ahmedinejad is striking. He greeted Ortega as his “revolutionary brother” and said, “These two peoples in different parts of the earth are fighting to establish solidarity and justice.”
Ortega who won the November election for a second term with 62% of the vote, was elated. He invited Chavez also to join his inaugural ceremony on Tuesday in Managua — Ortega, Chavez and Ahmedinejad celebrating together the victory of the Sandinista.
Earlier in Caracas, Chavez welcomed Ahmedinejad with effusive words of welcome, describing Venezuela and Iran as “victims of the superpower’s greed”. Ahmedinejad responded, “Tehran and Caracas will stand together against the hegemonic powers’ greed to dominate the world and will defend their rights.”
The Havana part of the tour
is going to be the icing on the cake. What advice would Fidel give to Ahmedinejad? Castro has many a time predicted a nuclear war following a US-Israeli attack on Iran.