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

Nov. 25 2015

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.

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

 

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion