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

November 25, 2015 | Eamonn MacDonagh
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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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