The Miami Herald | EDITORIAL

Argentina’s shameful pact with Iran


OUR OPINION: It’s a betrayal of victims of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires

In a shocking vote over the weekend, lawmakers in Argentina approved President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s delusional decision to strike a deal with Iran to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, an action for which Argentina’s own investigators blame Iran.

Argentina will pay a heavy price for this incredibly self-destructive action.

It puts the government’s seal of approval on an outrageous act of appeasement, undermines Argentina’s own institutions of law enforcement, and insults the victims of the attack, as well as Argentina’s history of holding human rights violators accountable.

The action also destroys whatever claim Argentina may have had to be considered a credible force on the international stage. It has essentially betrayed its own citizens, the victims and their Argentine family members, in order to placate Iran’s ayatollahs.

Six years ago, Argentina’s judiciary and prosecutors found sufficient evidence, after more than a decade of investigation, to pin the lethal attack on the terrorists of Hezbollah for carrying it out, and Iran for financing it.

The bombing fit a pattern of Iranian attacks against Jewish and pro-Israeli groups around the world.

The prosecutors also obtained Interpol arrest warrants for six suspects, including Amad Vahidi, who at the time was the head of the elite Quds force and today is Iran’s minister of defense.

The action was hailed at the time because it followed years of fumbling and incompetence by Argentina’s officials. In 2004, President Néstor Kirchner, the late husband of the current president, said the sordid history of the failed investigation was a “national disgrace” and vowed to get to the bottom of it. He prodded investigators to get serious, which led to the subsequent findings against Iran. Even Cristina Fernández herself, when she was a senator, spoke openly of the pain and indignity that the entire episode had brought to the country. Now, she has made it worse.

So why the about-face?

Some believe the agreement with Iran was motivated by a geopolitical desire to raise the country’s profile and end the long-festering confrontation with Iran, which has become more active diplomatically and economically in South America in recent years.

There are economic reasons, as well. Iran buys Argentina’s agricultural commodities. The increasing level of trade with Argentina surpasses $1 billion, and will likely go higher as Iran seeks to curry favor in Buenos Aires.

But cozying up to Iran is likely to backfire because the evidence against Iran has already been disclosed. Only the most gullible and naive can believe that this “partnership” will actually lead toward a solution and bring the criminals to justice. It is unimaginable that Iran would ever point the finger of blame at itself, especially after years of denying that it had any role in the bombing.

International human rights groups and Argentina’s own citizens and civic institutions have denounced the action. Instead of making President Fernández and her Peronist party more popular inside and outside the country, it only invites ridicule.

The shameful pact should be denounced by friends of democracy everywhere. For any nation to make common cause with terrorists is deplorable. But when a government that claims to represent the victims of the crime becomes a partner of the perpetrators, it has lost its claim to legitimacy.

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