In the past week, Israel and Iran have been in the news, particularly on the battlefields of Washington and Buenos Aires. The news out of Buenos Aires was particularly shocking.
It starts with the worst terror attack in Argentinian history, the 1994 bombing of the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), the Jewish community center in the capital city. Suspicion immediately fell on Iran. The case has never gone to full trial; several pre-trials were cancelled amid serious irregularities involving judges and members of Argentina’s intelligence staff.
Since 2006, Argentine courts have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In 2013, Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner signed a memorandum of understanding with Tehran agreeing to set up a “truth commission” to investigate the bombing and allowing Argentine prosecutors to question the suspects in Iran.
Enter prosecutor Alberto Nisman, an Argentinian Jew. Earlier in January, Nisman filed a 280-page complaint charging that Kirchner had issued an “express directive” to absolve top Iranian officials in exchange for commercial deals that would benefit both cash-strapped governments.
Prior to a scheduled closed-door appearance about the report, Nisman was found dead in his apartment on Jan. 19 with a gunshot wound and a .22 beside him.
At first, Kirchner alleged that Nisman had committed suicide. Later in a Facebook post, she wrote Nisman had been part of an effort to “sidetrack, lie, cover up, and confuse” attempts to finally resolve the bombing.
The prosecutor investigating Nisman’s death now says he took a bullet point-blank to his forehead. Investigators, who initially said Nisman appeared to have committed suicide, have not ruled out homicide or “induced suicide.”
The journalist who first reported Nisman’s death landed in Israel on Sunday, having fled Argentina claiming his life was in danger, that he was being chased by Argentinian security forces, and that his phones were being tapped.
Argentina has Latin America’s largest Jewish community. If Iran can attack Jews in Argentina and bribe the government to participate in a cover-up, what is to stop it from doing the same elsewhere?
I can find no record of either a White House or State Department statement on Nisman’s death or his report.
For some reason, the White House apparently is giving Iran a wide field of operation. This latitude is changing the map of the Middle East, if not the world. Recent events show Iran ascendant and the United States in decline.
Yemen, President Obama’s poster child for the success of his counterterrorism policies, fell to the Iranian-sponsored Shiite Houthi rebels, who took control of Yemen’s capital Sanaa and forced the resignation of the pro-U.S. government. A Washington Post editorial stated, “The Yemen mess reveals the weaknesses of Mr. Obama’s ‘partners’ strategy…. Unfortunately, the president’s cursory and formulaic description of his counterterrorism policies this week, following a year in which jihadist forces and terrorist attacks expanded across the world, suggested that he remains uninterested in correcting his mistakes.”
Along with its Lebanese proxy, Iran is operating in Syria. Obama believes that he needs Iran’s support to counteract ISIS. An Israeli air strike took out Hizbullah operatives and an Iranian general. Iran and Hizbullah threatened massive retaliation against Israel’s North.
Israel’s Channel 2 aired a video showing that Iran has apparently produced an ICBM whose range far exceeds the distance between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and Europe. The Iranian nuclear negotiations place no limits on Iranian missile development.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is continually extending the time for Iran to come to terms on its nuclear program. For this dilatory behavior, the administration rewards Iran financially. Last week, it paid $490 million in cash assets to Iran and will have released a total of $11.9 billion to Iran by the time nuclear talks are scheduled to end in June.
Which raises the question: “Why does the U.S. have sanctions against Iran?” On Friday, Charles Krauthammer wrote about “Iran’s emerging empire,” noting, “While Iran’s march toward a nuclear bomb has provoked a major clash between the White House and Congress, Iran’s march toward conventional domination of the Arab world has been largely overlooked. In Washington, that is.” Krauthammer finds “incomprehensible President Obama’s fierce opposition to Congress’s offer to strengthen the American negotiating hand by passing sanctions to be triggered if Iran fails to agree to give up its nuclear program.”
This will be one of the major issues between the president and the new Republican Congress.
Battle lines were drawn when House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress on the dangers of Iran, an invitation Netanyahu accepted, worsening the animosity between him and the Obama administration. However, for weeks the administration unsuccessfully has been trying to arrange a meeting with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
The White House objects to the strengthening of sanctions and Bibi’s advocacy of a hard line against Iran, saying they would imperil the chances of a successful conclusion to negotiations with Iran.
New Jersey’s Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, the prime sponsor of the bipartisan legislation to increase sanctions on Iran, nailed it when he said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”
You have to ask, “Why?”