Argentina’s New President Pushes Back against Iranian Influence in Latin America

Mauricio Macri’s recent victory in the Argentinian presidential election marks the end of twelve years of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner’s rule—and a welcome shift away from Buenos Aires’ alignment with Iran. However, writes Eamonn MacDonagh, that shift has its limits:

At his first press conference on Monday morning, the president-elect, who takes office on December 10, repeated two of his campaign commitments. The first of these was that he would send a bill to the nation’s congress to annul the 2013 pact with Iran, which ostensibly aimed to seek justice for the 85 victims of the 1994 terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, but which the late federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman believed was no more than a façade to cover up a secret agreement that guaranteed impunity to the perpetrators. . . .

Even if Macri’s proposed bill gets through Congress, the step will be largely symbolic in nature, given that the Iranians have long since lost interest in implementing the pact, which in any case is bogged down in legal disputes in Argentina’s courts. Still, in the current global political climate, even symbolic steps to place limits on Iranian ambitions have to be valued positively. . . .

It is also unlikely that there will be any significant progress in the investigation into the AMIA massacre itself, for similar reasons. Again, there are no political gains to be had for Macri in putting any energy into pursuing this case. . . . And even if Macri was filled with desire to bring the AMIA killers to justice and find out what really happened to Nisman, it’s hard to imagine that he would get much in the way of encouragement from the Obama administration in Washington.

Read more at Tower

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

What Israel Can Achieve in Gaza, the Fate of the Hostages, and Planning for the Day After

In a comprehensive analysis, Azar Gat concludes that Israel’s prosecution of the war has so far been successful, and preferable to the alternatives proposed by some knowledgeable critics. (For a different view, see this article by Lazar Berman.) But even if the IDF is coming closer to destroying Hamas, is it any closer to freeing the remaining hostages? Gat writes:

Hamas’s basic demand in return for the release of all the hostages—made clear well before it was declared publicly—is an end to the war and not a ceasefire. This includes the withdrawal of the IDF from the Gaza Strip, restoration of Hamas’s control over it (including international guarantees), and a prisoner exchange on the basis of “all for all.”

Some will say that there must be a middle ground between Hamas’s demands and what Israel can accept. However, Hamas’s main interest is to ensure its survival and continued rule, and it will not let go of its key bargaining chip. Some say that without the return of the hostages—“at any price”—no victory is possible. While this sentiment is understandable, the alternative would be a resounding national defeat. The utmost efforts must be made to rescue as many hostages as possible, and Israel should be ready to pay a heavy price for this goal; but Israel’s capitulation is not an option.

Beyond the great cost in human life that Israel will pay over time for such a deal, Hamas will return to rule the Gaza Strip, repairing its infrastructure of tunnels and rockets, filling its ranks with new recruits, and restoring its defensive and offensive arrays. This poses a critical question for those suggesting that it will be possible to restart the war at a later stage: have they fully considered the human toll should the IDF attempt to reoccupy the areas it would have vacated in the Gaza Strip?

Although Gat is sanguine about the prospects of the current campaign, he throws some cold water on those who hope for an absolute victory:

Militarily, it is possible to destroy Hamas’s command, military units, and infrastructure as a semi-regular military organization. . . . After their destruction in high-intensity fighting, the IDF must prevent Hamas from reviving by continuous action on the ground. As in the West Bank, this project will take years. . . . What the IDF is unlikely to achieve is the elimination of Hamas as a guerrilla force.

Lastly, Gat has some wise words about what will happen to Gaza after the war ends, a subject that has been getting renewed attention since Benjamin Netanyahu presented an outline of a plan to the war cabinet on Thursday. Gat argues that, contrary to the view of the American and European foreign-policy elite, there is no political solution for Gaza. After all, Gaza is in the Middle East, where “there are no solutions, . . . only bad options and options that are much worse.”

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza Strip, Gaza War 2023, Israeli Security