Argentina Mulls Removing Hizbullah from ‘Terrorist Group’ List
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez is reportedly contemplating reversing a decision to designate Hizbullah a terrorist organization. According to Israeli reports, Fernandez will adopt a policy in line with many European countries that bifurcates between the Iranian proxy’s “military” and “political” wings. In July, Argentina’s Financial Information Unit froze Hizbullah’s assets and blacklisted the Lebanon-based group. The move coincided with a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. The attack was blamed on Tehran. The Islamic Republic has also been blamed for orchestrating, through its Hizbullah underling, the deadly 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in the Argentine capital. Former president Kristina Fernandez de Kirchner, under whom Alberto Fernandez served as vice president, has been accused of concealing Iran’s role in the bombings, with observers pointing to the fact that none of the alleged perpetrators have been brought to justice. Adding to suspicions was the murder of former federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman in 2015, a day before he was reportedly set to implicate de Kirchner in a cover up during testimony in parliament. Officials in Jerusalem believe that de Kirchner – who, somewhat ironically, will be inaugurated as vice president in December – may be behind the about-face on Hizbullah, a move that could set up a confrontation with Washington. Despite the US position on the Lebanese group, Israel remains at odds with the Trump Administration over continued American military aid (about $100 million annually) to the Lebanese Armed Forces. While Washington contends that the assistance acts as a bulwark against Iranian interventionism in Beirut, Jerusalem has long maintained that the LAF has already become subservient to Hizbullah and thus any effort to boost the former in effect empowers the latter.