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.

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Read more at Fresh Air

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

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy