What is Argentina’s Kirchner playing at?

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Argentina’s flamboyant President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made a a couple of very controversial decisions in recent months, allying herself with dangerous dictators and thereby antagonising the West.

She has been antagonising Britain with her outspoken pronouncements about reclaiming the Falkland Islands , and the received wisdom here to explain her behaviour is that she wants to distract Argentina’s citizens from their domestic economic woes.

“The government is being squeezed from lots of different areas, so one way to distract from the economic problems facing the country is to raise the Malvinas issue,” Professor Mark Jones, an expert in Latin American politics at Rice University in Texas said last year. “It’s one of the few issues outside football that you can get universal consensus on.”

Bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires, 1994

However the latest decision made last month by Kirchner and her government is outrageous in its gall and in its overt siding with a terrorist regime: Argentina and Iran agreed to establish a joint commission of inquiry into the 1984 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed. This is akin to inviting the cat to investigate who licked up the cream.

The discussions have drawn criticism from both Israel and Argentina’s 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.

Both have demanded there be no let-up in Argentine authorities’ efforts to put the Iranian suspects on trial.

Ynet reported:

Jewish groups, however, were wary of the negotiations: “Argentina is legitimizing Iran’s style of governance and getting nothing in return,” Guillermo Borger, the president of the Argentine Mutual Aid Association, said.

Israeli official were reportedly “shocked” to hear that the agreement was signed.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said that Israel has “Warned the Argentineans only a short while ago not to fall into the trap that the Iranians will set up for them.

“We are stunned by this news item and we will want to receive from the Argentine government a complete picture as to what was agreed upon because this entire affair affects Israel directly.”

Two Op-Eds published over the weekend attempt, with varying levels of success, to analyse Kirchner’s reasoning behind her reckless decisions.

The New York Times asks “Why is Argentina’s President cozying up to Iran?

In 2007, after more than a decade of investigations, Argentine prosecutors obtained Interpol arrest warrants for six suspects and formally blamed Hezbollah for staging the attack and Iran for financing it.

But bizarrely, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, abruptly switched course last month and reached an agreement with the Iranian government that would set up a “truth commission” of international legal experts to analyze evidence from the bombings. The agreement, which the Congress approved early Thursday, would allow Argentine officials to travel to Tehran and interview Iranians suspected of involvement in the attack.

The problem is that any recommendations by the commission would be nonbinding; moreover, some of the suspects in the attack are now high-ranking Iranian officials — including the sitting defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi — and therefore untouchable. Indeed, Iran has repeatedly refused to cooperate with Argentine investigators and ignored international warrants for the arrest of senior Iranian officials believed to have taken part in planning the bombing.

Mrs. Kirchner’s decision to abandon Argentina’s longstanding grievances against Iran is particularly galling because it comes just weeks after Bulgaria, another country victimized by Iranian-sponsored terrorism, accused Hezbollah of staging a suicide attack on Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian town of Burgas last year. That attack, like the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, was part of a shadow war against Jewish civilians across the world. Bulgaria’s government, unlike Argentina’s current administration, decided to stand up to Hezbollah and forthrightly accuse it of the crime.

Argentina’s president is undermining her own country’s prosecutors, who have for several years tried to pursue the suspected perpetrators.

[…]

Mrs. Kirchner’s decision could open the gates to a major foreign policy realignment in the near future. Her populist government is moving toward the pro-Iranian positions of Venezuela’s ailing president, Hugo Chávez, and further away from those of Brazil, the United States and Europe. According to the Argentine newspaper La Nación, Argentina has started to collaborate on arms deals, including the development of missile technology, with Venezuela and indirectly with Iran.

[…]

Mrs. Kirchner has vigorously defended the treaty. It is possible that she believes taking a controversial step toward resolving a longstanding dispute will raise Argentina’s international profile. She may also think that the treaty will increase her party’s popularity in an election year.

But it will do neither. Like the 1982 war with Britain, Mrs. Kirchner’s misguided rapprochement with Iran will only compromise Argentina’s long-term national interests while doing nothing to satisfy the survivors’ yearning for justice.

The ADL in a similar analysis, describes “an unhealthy nexus: Iran and Argentina“:

Argentina now seems set on a path of colluding with the those who stand accused as the perpetrators to replace the Argentine criminal justice process with a vague arrangement that will, at best, further delay justice and, at worst, result in a gross miscarriage of justice. How did we get to this point in which the Argentine government is party to a sham agreement with the Iranian regime?

[…]

According to Argentinean and Iranian news reports, it seems the conversations began about two years ago. Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had been on record, several times condemning such allegations. His declarations now prove to be untrustworthy because reality proves different.

[…]

What troubles me more is that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in her interest to defend this agreement goes to the point to intimidate the Jewish community through social media and challenges its leaders. Moreover, she implicitly exonerates the Iranian regime from any responsibility in case of a future terror attack.

How can President Kirchner be so blind about who she is talking about?

[…]

For more than 18 years the international community supported the Argentine government’s efforts to investigate the AMIA bombing. We cannot support President Kirchner’s intentions to turn away from pursuing justice for the victims.

In the interest of the eighty-five innocent Argentinians killed, the hundreds more who were injured, Jews and non-Jews alike, and their families, justice needs to be served and it won’t be through this agreement as Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and President Fernandez de Kirchner want us to believe.

I don’t believe Kirchner or Timerman or anyone else in the Argentinian government is blind or ignorant as to the implications of such an agreement with Iran. They have obviously made a conscious decision to cross the aisle, abandoning the West in their support for a murderous extremist terrorist-supporting regime. We just have to hope that their South American neighbours who are not already allied with the equally divisive Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez will steer clear of Argentina and remain aligned with the West.

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4 Responses to What is Argentina’s Kirchner playing at?

  1. Andy says:

    How do you look on Hector Timerman because he is a Jew surely you must be disgusted???

    • anneinpt says:

      Yes, I’m pretty disgusted at him, but not surprised because he has a record of being antisemitic, or at least making antisemitic and anti-Israel statements. Yes – some Jews are anti-Semites, and some of the worst antisemites are Jews.

      Daniel Greenfield described him very well in his article in Front Page Magazine.

  2. Andrea says:

    Good evening Anne
    Well maybe out of topic here since my concerns my memories from Argentina and her Jewish community rather han Israel but your ling came back with memory. Argentina has one of the largest Jewish community in the world, maybe the fifth or the sixth ( or am I exaggerating ? ) some of them moving from Italy. Basing on my personal experience a lot of wonderful people, seriously committed in the life of their country. Most of them set up profitable business something that is usually regarded as result of hard work but we know how stupid ant semitism is working upon this….
    Jacobo Timermann was financially supported by David Graiver whose life is reported in English version of Wilkipedia and also quoted in your link. He was portrayed in all different ways is possible : heroes, gangster, greedy, criminal, idealist, renegade. He was accused of course of being linked to Mossad and in the same time he was told that Mossad tried to kill him. Tons of spy books could be actually written. Each time I told bad thinghs about him but I was always surprided that people never forgot to decribe him as a Jew, a rich Jew – smart greedy and dishonest . You could be either forgiven or forgotten for being comunist, criminal or even terrorist but not for being Jew.
    This fact always prevented me from easy comments about Graiver in spite of the fact that my relatives in that country and in that (Jewish ) community always pronounced his name with a sort of feeling mixed by repulsion fear and respect.
    Timermann and Graiver were probably “Montoneros” , a peronist leftist movement who attracted some Jews among the others but still a very small percentage. Like Gentiles in Argentina Jews were moved not by religious or ethnical consideration but based their political view on social and economical consideration. Middle class was such troubled in the 70′ that even a moderate comunity expressed political extremism and dubious morality. I am not able to say if Timermann and Graiver were dishonest – G-d will say but those years were really dramatic in a way that it is not easy to understand now. Yes, in those circumstances it would not have been easy to keep the right direction.
    These are only my memories about Argentina, Timermann and Graves and not any intention to contradict your consideration above.

    sorry for being out of topic..

    • anneinpt says:

      Hello Andrea, You are right that Argentina’s Jewish community is one of the largest in the world, (after Israel, the US, France, and maybe the UK) and certainly the largest in South America. And yes, most of Argentina’s Jews are wonderful warm people.

      As for Timerman, can one really count him as part of the Jewish community? Does he consider himself part of the community? I don’t know enough to say. In any case, I don’t consider Timerman’s anti-Jewish actions as an indictment of the Jewish community or representative of it. He represents only himself and his political party, which is not connected to the Jewish community at all.

      Thank you for the fascinating background on Graiver and Timerman. I’ve never heard of Graiver before.

      You might not realise it but your words provide some very interesting historical insight:

      You could be either forgiven or forgotten for being comunist, criminal or even terrorist but not for being Jew.

      That is the essence of anti-Semitism. No matter what a person’s character, whether good or bad, it’s the “Jewish” part that is unforgivable.

      This fact always prevented me from easy comments about Graiver

      That’s because you are a better person than most and don’t want to count his Jewishness against him. It was his actions are what made him a bad person, not the fact that he was a Jew. But not all people are able to separate the two.

      Middle class was such troubled in the 70′ that even a moderate comunity expressed political extremism and dubious morality.

      I was a teenager during those years but I remember reading some of the stories of the junta and the “Dirty War” with horror and disbelief that these things could happen in the 20th century outside of a Communist dictatorship. It was such a relief when the junta was ended, but it looks like some aspects of it are returning. Scary times.

      And please, Andrea, never apologize for being off-topic. Your insights are always fascinating and very welcome. Your worldly experience and mysterious job always enlighten us. (And anyway, your comment here was pretty on topic regarding the previous comments).

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