(GATESTONE INSTITUTE) – Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro this June during a visit to Iran signed a multidimensional, 20-year cooperation treaty. The pact includes agreements on science and technology as well as deals on agriculture, communications, culture and tourism. The Maduro regime's startling provision of one million hectares (roughly 2.5 million acres; nearly 4,000 square miles) of farmland to Iran was kept under wraps until Iranian agrarian economist Ali Revanizadeh disclosed it to the Venezuelan media.
The land grant will ostensibly be used to grow staple crops, such as corn and soy beans, allowing water-starved Iran to better feed its population. Iran's current use of Venezuela, however, combined with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), raise the possibility that Iran and its surrogate terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah and Hamas, might be using the vast acreage for military and terrorist operations.
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Hezbollah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela's Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country's mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela's prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran's penetration of Margarita Island. Intensive recruitment efforts by Shiite Islamic clerics among Venezuelans and elsewhere are have been known to include zealous converts to undertake revolutionary missions.