A Man Who Might Be Iran’s Next Supreme Leader Appears on Israel’s Border

In recent months, Tehran’s forces and proxy armies in Syria have crossed the country’s eastern border to link up with their counterparts in Iraq. More recently, the former Iranian presidential candidate Ibrahim Raisi has been seen on the Lebanese border with Israel, accompanied by Iranian and Hizballah officers. Elliott Abrams comments:

Raisi . . . is a member of the Assembly of Experts that will choose a successor to the “supreme Leader” Ali Khamenei and is a candidate for that position himself. Visiting Beirut, he took time to talk with the head of Hizballah and to pay his respects at the home of the late terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. . . .

[This] visit delivers several messages. First, borders have no meaning for Iran; the Islamic Republic is determined to be the dominant player in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Second, the governments of those countries have no control of their own borders and territory; Iranian military and terrorist leaders can come and go as they please. Third, whether Lebanon gets into a conflict with Israel will be determined by decisions made in Tehran, not in Beirut.

That is a sad development for most Lebanese, who are not fanatical Hizballah supporters. But it is one the United States should keep in mind as we assess our relations with Lebanon and our military aid to that country.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Middle East

How Israel Can Best Benefit from Its Newfound Friendship with Brazil

Jan. 21 2019

Earlier this month, Benjamin Netanyahu was in Brazil—the first Israeli prime minister to visit the country—for the inauguration of its controversial new president Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro has made clear his eagerness to break with his predecessors’ hostility toward the Jewish state, and Netanyahu has responded positively. To Emanuele Ottolenghi, the improved relations offer an opportunity for joint cooperation against Hizballah, which gets much of its revenue through cooperation with Brazilian drug cartels. In this cooperative effort, Ottolenghi cautions against repeating mistakes made in an earlier outreach to Paraguay:

Hizballah relies heavily on the proceeds of transnational crime networks, especially in the Tri-Border Area [where] Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay [meet], but until recently, Brazilian officials were loath to acknowledge its presence in their country or its involvement in organized crime. [But] Bolsonaro’s top priority is fighting organized crime. Combating Hizballah’s terror finance is a vital Israeli interest. Making the case that Israel’s and Brazil’s interests dovetail perfectly should be easy. . . .

But Israel should be careful not to prioritize symbols over substance, a mistake already made once in Latin America. During 2013-2018, Netanyahu invested heavily in his relationship with Horacio Cartes, then president of Paraguay. Cartes, . . . too, had a genuine warmth for Israel, which culminated in his decision in May 2018 to move Paraguay’s embassy to Jerusalem. Most importantly, from Israel’s point of view, Paraguay began voting with Israel against the Arab bloc at the UN.

However, the Paraguayan side of the Tri-Border Area remained ground zero for Hizballah’s money laundering in Latin America. The Cartes administration hardly lifted a finger to act against the terror funding networks. . . . Worse—when critics raised Hizballah’s [local] terror-financing activities, Paraguayan ministers confronted their Israeli counterparts, threatening to change Paraguay’s friendly international posture toward Israel. [And] as soon as Cartes left office, his successor, Mario Abdo Benítez, moved Paraguay’s embassy back to Tel Aviv. . . . Israel’s five-year investment ultimately yielded no embassy move and no progress on combating Hizballah’s terror network. . . .

Israel should make the battle against Hizballah’s terror-finance networks in Latin America its top regional priority.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Brazil, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Latin America