What Alberto Nisman’s Wiretaps Reveal about Backdoor Dealings between Iran and Argentina

In the course of his investigation of Hizballah’s 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in mysterious circumstances in January, obtained extensive copies of wiretapped phone calls. Eamonn MacDonagh writes that the recordings present damning evidence of individuals with close ties to the Argentinian and Iranian governments discussing ways the former could cover up the role of the latter in the attack:

In both political and legal terms, the government’s response to the release of the recordings . . . has been both simple and successful. The government claims that the conversations are just the ramblings of political nobodies, people with no influence or role at the highest levels of the state, and that the very idea of them conducting back-channel negotiations with Iran is absurd.

This defense, successful though it has been, includes a rather obvious weakness: if one wanted to set up a back-channel negotiation with a foreign power, then who better to do so than [those who were recorded]? They provide the resource most coveted by governments everywhere that get involved in illicit activities—deniability.

Had even the most basic steps to investigate Nisman’s complaint been taken, it would have been easy to find [more conclusive information]. . . . But nothing like that is going to happen now, at least while the current Argentine government remains in power and even afterward, until its loyalists placed in the legal system have been removed or they resign. With Nisman dead, the driving force behind the investigation into the AMIA attack and the cover-up that followed has been removed from the scene. . . .

There is unlikely to be any justice for the AMIA dead, or for Nisman, either, until their cases are internationalized. . . . The least that could be done . . . is to make it impossible for Argentina’s next president and future ministers to have normal relations with democratic nations without the AMIA issue and the death of Nisman being raised at every opportunity. This would at least have the effect of keeping up the morale of those inside Argentina who continue to struggle for justice, while waiting for the political circumstances that will allow justice to be done.

Read more at Tower

More about: Alberto Nisman, AMIA bombing, Argentina, Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount