May 23, 2013
Dancing with wolves II
Now that Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman has explained the controversial agreement with Iran over the 1994 AMIA Jewish community centre terrorist bomb massacre probe to the AMIA and DAIA Jewish umbrella groupings as promised (while harshly rejecting Israel’s right to any explanation), the doubts are far from laid to rest. The main assurance offered by Timerman — that the report of the “truth commission” formed by legal experts picked by both countries is non-binding and will thus not interfere with Argentine justice — is also almost the most worrying point. It effectively means that in the best of cases if the commission does end up broadly endorsing the case against Iran built up by prosecutor Alberto Nisman (who faces an arrest warrant in Iran), their recommendation will be no more binding on Tehran than the current stonewalled efforts of Argentine justice with a colossal waste of time the only new element. Yet the odds are heavily against this best-case scenario — it can safely be assumed that the speedy conviction of suspects including the country’s current defence minister will not be Iran’s priority. Instead they are far likelier to float such wild theories as “Zionists” blowing up their own centres in order to discredit Iran — even a revival of the “Syrian connection” would not be ruled out were it not for the terminal situation of the Damascus regime so closely allied to Tehran.
Meanwhile it is worth asking whether this agreement with Iran follows a strictly bilateral logic or whether it falls into a broader geopolitical alignment. Tuesday’s editorial pointed out that the benefits for Iran (breaking its international isolation over its perceived nuclear threat, buying time, neutralizing a major obstacle to its penetration of Latin America and perhaps even using this forum for some cheap electioneering rhetoric for its June polls) were far clearer than for Argentina. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has always given precedence to the political over the economic and the harm done by this agreement to the political prestige gained both at home and abroad by her previous grandstanding in favour of probing the AMIA atrocity far outweighs any commercial benefits Iran might offer (including its oil production with other alternatives around the world, not to mention Argentina’s own Vaca Muerta shale potential). It seems far likelier that this agreement is the product of Venezuelan insistence within the context of a “Bolivarian” realignment of the region.
This agreement might be as “historic” as CFK says but various massive blunders have formed part of history too.