A search for allies in a hostile world

ARRIVING at the airport in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, you have a fair chance that the newish-looking taxi taking you into town will not be the usual French or Japanese model, but Iranian. And it will not have been imported, as most cars in Africa are, but assembled in nearby Thiès. From here, the first few hundred taxis have just come off the production line at an Iranian-built Khodro plant. They are tangible symbols of a new power in sub-Saharan Africa that has, for some, begun to cause ripples of concern. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s controversial president, is in the vanguard of Iran’s push. Two years ago in New York he said he saw “no limits to the expansion of [Iran’s] ties with African countries”. Last year Iran’s diplomats, generals and president criss-crossed the continent, signing a bewildering array of commercial, diplomatic and defence deals. By one tally, Iran conducted 20 ministerial or grander visits to Africa last year, reminiscent of the trade-and-aid whirlwind the Chinese brought to Africa in the mid-2000s. The reason is not hard to fathom. Iran wants diplomatic support for its nuclear programme in parts of the world where governments are still biddable. In Latin America Iran’s president has already exploited anti-American sentiment in countries such as Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. In Africa, by contrast, where most countries have strong ties to the West, Iran has concentrated on s… >>>

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Meet your Persian Love Today!
Meet your Persian Love Today!