The “truth commission” set by Argentina and Iran to investigate the bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) in 1994 faces yet another obstacle in its inevitable way south as a federal court in Argentina deemed the commission unconstitutional. The controversial commission had been created amid a myriad of criticism from the main representatives of the Jewish community in Argentina, the government of Israel and the Argentine Congress itself, as some of the suspects in the attack are now high-ranking officials in Iran.
Truth be told, prosecutor Alberto Nisman is all but shutting down the commission in claiming that in creating the commission, President Cristina Kirchner overstepped her boundaries, into the jurisdiction of the judiciary branch.
There’s been plenty of speculation about the motives behind the Argentine government’s pursuit of such collaboration with Iran. The most elaborate conspiracy theories go as far as to predict hidden commercial agreements, or the intention to play at least some role on the international agenda on terrorism. A perhaps more naive, and yet somewhat rational theory asserts that since the ongoing judicial investigation through the international justice system wasn’t moving forward anyway, this bilateral agreement to work on a “truth commission” with Iran is an alternative to move forward on the case. This is the reasoning that the Argentine government is sticking to, at least publicly. Sadly, even if that last argument were remotely true, the scope of limitations that would obstruct the work of the commission is so vast that it is hard to believe the agreement could have been established under those premises.
Let’s go over some of those presumably unnoticed “limitations” (FYI: If you still believe that anything productive could come out of this commission, just pretend that I’m rolling my eyes at you throughout the entire article).
How to Destroy an Agreement in 3…2…1
The Argentine media has dutifully covered the major setbacks that this commission faces in Argentina. In a clear attempt to turn yet another event into a battlefield between those in favor and against the government, media outlets were quick to present the views of those opposing collaboration with Iran: on the one hand, the majority of the Jewish community in the country has not only deplored any negotiation with Iran, but has also gone as far as to sue the government over this initiative.
To add drama to an already tense situation, the media has largely focused its coverage on Israel’s assertion that the commission represented an act of treason by Hector Timerman, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the son of Jacobo Timerman, a journalist protected by Israel during the last military dictatorship in Argentina. Simultaneously, the Argentine Congress has also criticized the urgency with which President Kirchner pushed to get the commission approved.
Still, while on this side of the world, all eyes were on the national implications of the truth commission, not much was said regarding the unlikelihood that the commission would actually solve the mystery about who was behind the AMIA bombing.
As I stated before, the results of this commission would not only be non-binding, but the agreement in itself was approved in Iran by a decree of then president Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and not by the political party currently running the country. What’s more, Iran has ignored the arrest warrants INTERPOL issued to arrest five Iranians for the involvement in the case, as some of them are high-rank officials on the current administration. Prosecutor Nisman has gone so far as to say that Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran, was a member of the group that ordered the attack.
Doesn’t sound too promising, does it?
Iran has systematically denied any involvement in the attack and claims to have joined this agreement to prove its innocence, yet no real sign of cooperation has been detected.
In Politics, It´s All About Ulterior Motives
Evey major political event has, by definition, a hidden agenda. Creating a bilateral commission to further investigate a terrorist attack that has remained unsolved for the past two decades can be a promising alternative. Sadly, as driven as audiences and the media can be when it comes to focusing on the sensationalist side of a story, those side-stories in this whole affair have detracted from the fact that this commission was created to solve the mystery behind one of the most tragic events in Argentina’s history.
Instead, this commission has become a political ploy in today’s extremely polarized Argentine political climate.
While those in favor of the government passionately defend the commission as proof of a weak or ineffective judicial system, those opposing the government are taking advantage of any of the commission’s weaknesses, ready to play them up for the next presidential elections.
Ideally, a proper investigation needs to be carried out, on both a domestic and international scale, in situations like this. No hidden agendas, no ulterior motives, no political calculations.
But I wouldn’t count on that happening any time soon.