Iran’s Latin American Resurgence

From Chile to Mexico, left-wing, anti-Israel, and pro-Iranian politicians have won a series of victories in the past few years, allowing Tehran to expand its influence beyond Cuba and Venezuela, the nations it counts already as steadfast allies. Next week, Gustavo Petro—who in 2020 praised the Iranian generalissimo Qassem Suleimani—will become president of Colombia, while the former Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who presided over the cover-up of Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center, returned to power as that country’s vice-president. Oved Lobel writes:

Colombia was one of very few countries in South America to designate Hizballah a terrorist organization and was previously among the staunchest security allies of the U.S. and Israel, all of which is now in question. . . . Brazil, despite its right-wing government and seemingly close relations with Israel and the U.S., refused to designate Hizballah despite years of pledging to do so.

Then there is Chile’s new president, Gabriel Boric, a long-standing and virulently anti-Israel leftist who has openly blamed the local Jewish community for Israeli policies. . . . Peru, too, has fallen to the Marxists with the election of President Pedro Castillo, who some have accused of being a mere front man for the notorious pro-Cuban Vladimir Cerrón, himself seemingly an anti-Semite.

The ultimate nightmare, of course, would be a future transfer of Iranian ballistic missiles topped with nuclear warheads to Venezuela, giving them the reach to threaten the U.S. mainland even without intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The current wave of left-wing governments sweeping Latin America bodes extremely ill for the Jewish citizens of these countries as well as for both the U.S. and Israel politically and security-wise. . . . Even if the terrorism threat can be kept in check, the regional criminal activities of [Iran’s terror] network will likely increase, bringing in more funds to be poured back into military capabilities that will increasingly inch their way closer to the U.S. mainland.

Read more at Fresh Air

More about: Anti-Semitism, Cristina Kirchner, Iran, Latin America, U.S. Security

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy