US Urges Countries To Stop Iranian Flights To Venezuela

Today, the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on nations to deny overflight rights to Mahan Air. He claims that Iran’s largest carrier had been delivering shipments of ‘unknown support’ to the disputed government of Venezuela.

Mahan Air A340
Mahan Air has been putting its Airbus A340s to use by operating cargo services. Photo: Getty Images

Already on edge

This year kicked off with a series of escalations between the governments of the US and Iran. Subsequently, the tension culminated in a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 being fatally shot down by a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces. Thereafter, the Iranian government claimed that the soldiers erroneously identified it as a hostile target.

Additionally, US authorities have long expressed their distaste for Nicolás Maduro’s presidential regime in Venezuela. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Pompeo is keeping a close eye on the relationship between the two countries.

Mahan Air aircraft
Mahan Air flies to around 50 destinations with its fleet of over 50 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images.

Strong words

According to Reuters, Pompeo expressed his frustration at a state department news conference. He said that aircraft of the privately-owned Iranian airline recently delivered supplies to Maduro’s government.

“Over the last few days, multiple aircraft belonging to Mahan Air have transferred unknown support to the Maduro regime,” Pompeo said, as reported by Reuters.

“This is the same terrorist airline that Iran used to move weapons and fighters around the Middle East.”

Last week, a Venezuelan official shared that the country received materials via Iranian aircraft to help it start the catalytic cracking unit at a crude oil refinery in Cardon. This site is essential for the production of gasoline. The Airbus A340s landed at Las Piedras Josefa Camejo International Airport from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo did not hold anything back as he vented his frustrations about Mahan Air’s operations. Photo: Office of the President-elect via Wikimedia Commons

Global tensions

Over the last year, the US government has been clamping down on groups that support Maduro. In October, it forced the suspension of the majority of US routes to Cuba. Ultimately, this move was made in a bid to stop the flow of money from American vacationers to the Cuban government, which is in favor of the politician.

Altogether, the presidency of Venezuela has been under dispute for well over a year. Maduro’s re-election in 2018 went under great scrutiny by several domestic and international groups. Since then, the country and the world have been divided on who the real leader is. 20 nations recognize Maduro as the president. However, around 60 countries support his rival Juan Guaidó.

Nonetheless, the call for countries to deny overflight rights to Mahan Air is a bold request. To meddle in the relationship between the US, Iran, and Venezuela is a step that several governments may be looking to avoid in the current global climate.

What are your thoughts on the US government’s issues regarding Mahan Air? Are their concerns justified? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.