The President of Argentina Mauricio Macri made a strong geopolitical move this Wednesday by declaring the Shiite group Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The decision is in line with the wishes of the United States and Israel, which are now seeking to the support of Paraguay and Brazil to put pressure on the presumed cells of the Lebanese organization in the region.
It is a gesture to Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been asking Macri to advance against the group accused of the terrorist attack on AMIA - the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina - back in 1994, and suspected of having cells in the Triple Frontier of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The decision comes on the 25th anniversary of the attack, and just before the arrival of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will be visiting Argentina to participate in a congress on terrorism.
The declaration against Hezbollah is a very sensitive step. In recent weeks Macri has been in permanent contact with local and international intelligence sectors to asses the risk of possible retaliation.
According to sources consulted by LPO, the leaders of the United States and Israel promised Macri strong economic support (which Trump already showed with his full support in the IMF) if he is re-elected in exchange for alignment on geopolitical matters. The first step was to advance against Hezbollah and to hinder their alleged contacts in the border with Brazil and Paraguay.
The idea of the United States and Israel is to put pressure on presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Mario Abdo to follow in the footsteps of Macri, who Trump revalidates as his favored leader in the region. Trump seeks political support in his crusade against Iran, the main political and economic ally of Hezbollah.
The sources indicate that Bolsonaro could follow Macri, although in his case he has a more complex internal scenario since the Brazilian intelligence services are historically more reluctant to adopt the US position regarding the conflict in the Middle East.
Declaring Hezbollah as a terrorist group is a measure pushed particularly by Israel (where there was euphoria over Macri's decision) and aims to politically isolate the group, but especially in economic terms as it intends to block the bank accounts that provide them with funds from outside Lebanon.
This is the reason why the Triple Frontier is key. For years, it has been suspected that Hezbollah cells operate in the region. Adding Brazil and Paraguay, in Israel it is believed that the possibility of financing from the hottest spot in South America would be blocked.
Macri's legal move
The government of Argentina formalized this Wednesday through a decree the creation of the "Public Registry of Persons or Entities Linked to Acts of Terrorism and its Financing (RePET)", the instrument that will allow them to label Hezbollah a terrorist group.
Decree 489/2019 modifies a norm of June 2012 and establishes the creation of that registry, since, until now, Argentina was ruled by the list published by the Security Council of the United Nations, in which Hezbollah does not appear. However, the Argentinean judicial accuses the group of the attacks against the headquarters of the AMIA in 1994 and the Embassy of Israel in 1992.
Although the decree does not directly mention the Lebanese organization, it is understood because a section establishes it. This section indicates that the "freezing of the assets of the human person, legal entity or entity" will be carried out on which the Financial Information Unit (FIU) has established the administrative asset freeze.
The RePET will operate within the Ministry of Justice and will seek to "provide access and exchange of information on persons, legal entities and entities related to acts of terrorism and/or their financing, and facilitate domestic and international cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate terrorism and its financing. "
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