The strategic alliance between Chávez and Ahmadinejad, and its impact on international institutions, from a peripheral-realist perspective

Carmen Pereira Stallaert


The Chávez–Ahmadinejad era (2005–13) was marked by a growing rapprochement between Venezuela and Iran not only based on common oil interests but also at the cultural, diplomatic and military level. The objective of this article is to analyse the impact of this counter-hegemonic alignment in the international scene in light of the theory of peripheral realism. First, we briefly outline how the relationship was built during the Chávez and Ahmadinejad presidency underpinned by a shared ideological anti-Americanism. Second, we define the concept of peripheral realism to examine the impact of the Venezuela–Iran partnership in the context of three international institutions: ALBA, OPEC and the UN Security Council. To conclude, we interpret the Iran–Venezuela axis from a peripheral-realist perspective and reflect upon the sustainability of this alliance in the aftermath of Chávez’s death and a change of leadership in both Venezuela and Iran.


Allen, K. (2016), ‘Oil price woes deepen as Iran vows to add 500,000 barrels a day’, The Guardian, 17 January, Accessed 17 July 2016.

Arnson, C. and Esfandiari, H. (2011), ‘Preface’, in C. Arnson, H. Esfandiari and A. Stubits (eds), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas # 23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, pp. ix–xi, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Arnson, C., Esfandiari, H. and Stubits, A. (eds) (2011), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas # 23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Atlas of Economic Complexity (2014), ‘Iran’, Center for International Development at Harvard University, Accessed 14 April 2016.

—— (2016), ‘Iran’, Center for International Development at Harvard University, Accessed 26 July 2018.

Ayala Corao, C. and Casal, J. M. (2008), ‘La evolución político-institucional de Venezuela 1975–2005’, Estudios Constitucionales, 6:2, pp. 435–99.

Bakhtiar, A. (2006), ‘The coming financial crises?’, Mehr News Agency, 19 June, Accessed 9 May 2016.

Berman, I. (2016), ‘Iran and the New Monroe Doctrine. Washington should fear Tehran’s meddling in the Americas’, Foreign Affairs, 2 September, Accessed 26 July 2018

Brun, E. (2008), ‘Irán-Venezuela: Hacia un acercamiento completo’ (‘Iran-Venezuela: Towards a complete approach’), Revista Politeia, 31:40, pp. 19–40.

—— (2011), ‘Iran’s place in Venezuelan foreign policy’, in C. Arnson, H. Esfandiari and A. Stubits (eds), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas # 23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, pp. 35–49, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Corrales, J. and Penfold, M. J. (2011), Dragon in the Tropics: Hugo Chavez and the Political Economy of Revolution in Venezuela, Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Corrales, J. and Romero, C. A. (2014), ‘Venezuela’s foreign policy, 1920s–2010s’, in J. I. Dominguez and A. Covarrubias (eds), Routledge Handbook of Latin America in the World, London: Routledge, pp. 153–68.

Deciancio, M. (2016), ‘International relations from the South: A regional research agenda for global IR’, International Studies Review, 18:1, pp. 106–19.

Duarte Villa, R. A. Duarte and Souza Pimenta, M. C. (2017), ‘Is international relations still an American social science discipline in Latin America?’, Opinião Pública, 23:1, pp. 261–88, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Dyer, G. (2007), ‘The US Dollar: The long farewell?’, Mehr News Agency, 3 December, 9 May 2016.

Energy Information Administration (2015–18), ‘International energy statistics’, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Escobar Kelly, J. de and Romero, C. A. (2005), Venezuela y Estados Unidos: Coincidencias y Conflictos (Venezuela and the United States: Coincidences and Conflicts), Caracas: IESA.

Escudé, C. (1992), Realismo Periférico: Fundamentos para la Nueva Política Exterior Argentina (Peripheral Realism: Foundations for the New Argentine Foreign Policy), Buenos Aires: Planeta.

—— (2012), Principios de Realismo Periférico: Vigencia de una Teoría Argentina ante el Ascenso de China (Principles of Peripheral Realism: Validity of an Argentine Theory before the Ascent of China), Buenos Aires: Lumière.

—— (2014), ‘Realism in the periphery’, in J. I. Dominguez and A. Covarrubias (eds), Routledge Handbook of Latin America in the World, London: Routledge, pp. 45–56.

Esfahani, A. (2017), ‘Cultural globalization and foreign policy strategies of the Islamic Republic of Iran (case study – the seventh and the ninth governments)’, Journal of Politics and Law, 10:3, pp. 125–37.

Farah, D. (2011), ‘Iran in Latin America: An overview’, in C. Arnson, H. Esfandiari and A. Stubits (eds), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas # 23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, pp. 13–24, Accessed 28 May 2018.

Farhi, F. (2011), ‘Tehran’s perspective on Iran-Latin American relations’ in C. Arnson, H. Esfandiari and A. Stubits (eds), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas #23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center, pp. 25–33, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Farrer-Wellman, A. (2010), ‘Venezuela-Iran foreign relations’, Critical Threats, Accessed 14 April 2016.

Garrido Rebolledo, V. (2009), ‘Caracteres y de la Política Exterior de Venezuela’ (‘Venezuelan characters and foreign policy’), in G. Suárez Pertierra, V. Garrido Rebolledo, P. Adam Isbell, C. Malamud Rikles, B. Raggio Cochinero, J. A. Sanahuja Perales and I. Sepúlveda Muñoz (eds), Venezuela y la Revolución Bolivariana (Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution), Madrid: Instituto Universitario General Gutiérrez Mellado de investigación sobre la Paz, la Seguridad y la Defensa, pp. 105–58.

Goforth, S. (2011), Axis of Unity: Venezuela, Iran and the Threat to America, Lincoln, NE: Potomac.

Golpira, H. (2010), ‘ALBA backs Iran’s right to nuclear energy’, Mehr News Agency, 14 July, Accessed 10 May 2016.

Guerrero, J. (2016), The Carter Administration and the Fall of Iran’s Pahlavi Dynasty: US-Iran Relations on the Brink of the 1979 Revolution, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

HispanTV (2016), ‘Irán y Venezuela abogan por extender sus relaciones tras aplicación del JCPOA’ (‘Iran and Venezuela advocate extending their relations after applying the JCPOA’), Tehran,–extender-relaciones-tras-implementacion--jcpoa. Accessed 17 July 2016.

—— (2017), ‘Embajadores de ALBA celebran en Irán XIII aniversario de Alianza’ (‘ALBA ambassadors celebrate 13th anniversary of alliance in Iran’), Tehran, Accessed 28 May 2018.

Humire, J. M. and Berman, I. (eds) (2014), Iran’s Strategic Penetration of Latin America, Lanham, MD: Lexington.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (1967), ‘Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty)’, reproduced from United Nations document A/6663, Accessed 14 April 2016.

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) (2017), ‘Latin America’s ALBA urges US to stay committed to Iran deal’, 14 December, Accessed 29 May 2018.

Johnson, S. (2012), Iran’s Influence in the Americas: Full Report, Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Karnon, E. (2009), ‘Iran and its proxy Hezbollah: Strategic penetration in Latin America’, working paper 18/2009, Madrid: Real Instituto Elcano, Accessed 11 May 2018.

Katzenstein, P. J. and Keohane, R. O. (eds) (2006), Anti-Americanisms in World Politics, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Kourliandsky, J.-J. (2012), ‘L’Iran et l’Amérique latine: Des convergences solides et circonstancielles’ (‘Iran and Latin America: Strong and circumstantial convergences’), Actuelles de l’Ifri, Accessed 15 July 2016.

Kurzman, C. (2004), The Unthinkable Revolution in Iran, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Mehr News Agency (2008a), ‘Tehran to host ALBA exhibit’, 9 December, Accessed 10 May 2016.

—— (2008b), ‘Iran-ALBA seminar held in Tehran’, 21 December, Accessed 10 May 2016.

—— (2014), ‘ALBA member states mark 10th anniversary in Tehran’, 30 December, Accessed 15 May 2016.

Ministerio de Comunicación de Venezuela (2006), ‘Ocurre que el mundo se esta despertando: Intervención del Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, en el 61º Período Ordinario de la Asamblea General de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU)’ (‘As it happens the world is awakening: Intervention of the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, to the 61st Regular Period of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization [UN]’), September, Accessed 14 February 2016.

Mir-Khalili, S. J. (2008), ‘Imam Khomeini’s viewpoints on Iranian foreign policy’, Iran Review, 26 May, Accessed 25 May 2015.

Nichols, M. (2017), ‘Russia, China, others boycott U.S. meeting at UN on Venezuela’, Reuters, 13 November, Accessed 13 June 2018.

O’Connor, B. and Griffiths, M. (2007), Anti-Americanism: Causes and Sources, New York, NY: Praeger.

Pereira Rodriguez, C.. (2014), ‘Les jeux de pouvoir aux nations Unies néfastes pour le peuple syrien’, Institut Européen de Recherche sur la Coopération Méditerranéenne et Euro-Arabe, Brussels.

Prémonville, A. L. de and Flichy de la Neuville, T. (2015), Géopolitique de l’Iran: De l’Empire Confiné au Retour de la Puissance (Geopolitics of Iran: From Confined Empire to the Return to Power), Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (2015), ‘Iran-Venezuela presidents call for expansion of Tehran, Caracas multilateral cooperation/development of relations with Latin America is among policies of government’, Office of the President, 10 January, Accessed 17 July 2016.

Romero, C. A. and Escobar Kelly, J. de (2002), United States and Venezuela: Rethinking a Relationship, New York, NY: Routledge.

Romero, C. and Mijares, V. M. (2016), ‘From Chávez to Maduro: Continuity and change in Venezuelan foreign policy’, Contexto Internacional, 38:1, pp. 165–201.

Roy, O. (1987), ‘Une théocratie constitutionnelle: Les institutions de la République islamique d’Iran’ (‘Constitutional theocracy: Institutions of the Islamic Republic of Iran’), Politique Étrangère, 52:2, pp. 327–38.

Schenoni, L. (2016), ‘Peripheral realism revisited’, Revista Brasileira de Política Internacionale, 59:1, Accessed 13 June 2018.

Security Council Report (2006–18), ‘UN documents for Iran: Security Council resolutions’, Accessed 30 May 2018.

Sick, G. (1987), ‘La révolution iranienne et les grandes puissances’ (‘The Iranian Revolution and the great powers’), Politique Étrangère, 52:2, pp. 339–55.

Strohl, P. (1997), ‘Strategic alliances: A primer’, Natural Gas, 13:6, pp. 1–7.

Stubits, A. (2011), ‘Introduction’, in C. Arnson, H. Esfandiari and A. Stubits (eds), Iran in Latin America: Threat or ‘Axis of Annoyance’?, Woodrow Wilson Center Reports on the Americas # 23, Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson

Center, pp. 1–12.

Takeyh, R. (2009), Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tarock, A. (1997), ‘Iran and Russia in strategic alliance’, Third World Quarterly, 18:2, pp. 207–23.

Tickner, A. B. (2003), ‘Hearing Latin American voices in international relations studies’, International Studies Perspectives, 4:4, pp. 325–50.

Torrealba, L. (2011), ‘El pensamiento y obra de Rómulo Betancourt y las relaciones industriales en Venezuela (1945–48/1959–64)’ (‘The thought and work of Rómulo Betancourt and industrial relations in Venezuela’), Gaceta Laboral, 17:3, pp. 293–307.

Trinkunas, H. A. (2015), ‘The logic of Venezuelan foreign policy during the Chávez period’, in R. S. Clem and A. P. Maingot (eds), Venezuela’s Petro-Diplomacy: Hugo Chávez’s Foreign Policy, Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, pp. 16–31.

UN Human Rights (2017), Human Rights Violations and Abuses in the Context of Protests in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela from 1 April to 31 July 2017, Geneva: Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN Security Council (UNSC) (2015a), ‘Prospects for protecting people improve when sovereignty not viewed as “wall or shield”, Secretary-General tells Security Council in ministerial debate’, Security Council 7389th meeting, SC/11793, 23 February, Accessed 12 June 2018.

—— (2015b), ‘As Security Council briefed by 1737 committee chair, speakers hopeful mutually beneficial agreement on Iran nuclear issue will soon be reached’, Security Council 7412th meeting, SC/11830, 24 March, Accessed 12 June 2018.

—— (2015c), ‘Security Council members urge full implementation of accord on Iran’s nuclear file, during quarterly briefing by Sanctions Committee Chair’, Security Council 7522nd meeting, SC/12044, 15 September, Accessed 13 January 2016.

—— (2015d), ‘Iran’s attempt to procure titanium alloy was violation of Anti-Proliferation Resolution 1737 (2006), Sanctions Committee tells Security Council’, Security Council 7583rd meeting, SC/12163, 15 December, Accessed 13 June 2018.

—— (2015e), ‘Adopting Resolution 2209 (2015), Security Council condemns use of chlorine gas as weapon in Syria’, Security Council 7401st meeting, SC/11810, 6 March, Accessed 13 June 2018.

—— (2015f), ‘Resolution 2231 (2015). Adopted by the Security Council at its 7488th meeting’, S/RES/2231 (2015), 20 July, Accessed 13 June 2018.

US Department of Treasury (1979), ‘Blocking Iranian government property’, Executive Order 12170, 44 F.R. 65729, 14 November, Accessed 26 January 2015.

—— (2007), ‘Fact sheet: Designation of Iranian entities and individuals for proliferation activities and support for terrorism’, 25 October, Accessed 6 April 2016.

US Energy Information Administration (2015), ‘International Energy Statistics’, Accessed 26 July 2018

Wirsing, R. G. (2007), ‘India’s lengthening shadow: The US-Pakistan strategic alliance and the war in Afghanistan’, Asian Affairs, 34:3, pp. 151–72.

Zabih, S. (1982), The Mossadegh Era: Roots of the Iranian Revolution, Chicago, IL: Lake View.


  • There are currently no refbacks.