- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

UNHOLY ALLIANCE

Anti-American radicals who embrace Islamic extremists as comrades against the West will find themselves victims of their own Muslim allies, if the terrorists ever win the global battle against democracy, a leading Spanish lawmaker and expert on extremism said Tuesday.

“They believe radical Islam is a beautiful black stallion they can ride toward their goal. In fact it is a dragon that will eat them,” said Gustavo de Aristegui, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Popular Party, in a forum at the Hudson Institute in Washington.

Mr. de Aristegui warned against the growing alliance between Islamic extremists and anti-American populists in Latin America and noted that the best example of the trend is the growing cooperation between Iran and Venezuela.

“How can two regimes be so similar when they have so many differences? One drinks rum. The other doesn’t. One has beaches with women in bikinis. The other one has women is chadors,” he said.

Nevertheless, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have formed a cozy friendship in their hatred of the United States, Mr. Aristegui noted.

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega has also embraced Mr. Ahmadinejad and allowed Iran to open one of its largest embassies in Latin America, Douglas Farah, another panelist, added.

“There are 117 Iranian diplomats in Nicaragua. Most of them are commercial attaches, and there is very little commerce between Nicaragua and Iran,” said Mr. Farah, an investigator with the New York-based anti-terrorist NEFA Foundation.

Commercial attache is frequently a cover for a spy.

Jaime Daremblum, director of Hudson’s Center for Latin American Studies, also warned of the growing influence of Russia and China in the region. Russia recently held military exercises with Venezuela, and China is spreading its leverage through economic investments.

“There are forces aligning against democracy in the region,” he said.

Mr. de Aristegui warned Western leaders to be vigilant against the “invisible threat” to democracy found on the Internet, where extremist groups link Web sites and share radical tactics. In Spain, for example, a left-wing rock-and-roll band linked its Web site to Basque terrorists, who linked theirs to a radical Venezuelan youth movement that organizes violent street gangs to confront Mr. Chavez’s opponent.

“Their message is quite frankly scary,” Mr. de Aristegui said. “One of the mistakes democracies make is to ignore their enemies and ignore the blueprints of their enemies.”

OUT OF RACE

Ernest Petric, Slovenia’s first ambassador to the United States, dropped out of the race to head the U.N. nuclear agency Tuesday, after finishing last in a field of five candidates in a straw poll earlier this month.

He said he hoped his withdrawal will help narrow the contest to pick a new director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to replace Mohamed ElBaradei, who is resigning after serving three terms.

“I want to make it easier for a candidate acceptable to the great majority of the board to emerge, but I am worried it won’t happen again this week,” he told reporters at the Vienna, Austria, headquarters of the U.N. agency.

The next director must win two-thirds of the vote of the board comprised of representatives of 35 nations.

Mr. Petric served as ambassador in Washington from 1991 to 1997. He was Slovenia’s ambassador to the United Nations from 2000 to 2002 and permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe from 2002 to 2003.

Mr. Petric was appointed Slovenia’s representative to the IAEA board in 2006.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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