Imagine that a fugitive facing serious criminal charges flies on a private jet into a country where he could be arrested: He lands, moves around freely, publicly attends a presidential inauguration and then safely escapes back to a friendly nation.
It’s a plot worthy of a Jason Bourne movie, except that in this case, the individual’s planned method of escape isn’t a daring act of spycraft, but something arguably more dangerous: political dealings.
As of the writing of this article, Mohsen Rezaee, former commander-in-chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Islamic Republic’s current vice president for economic affairs, is in Nicaragua for the fourth inauguration of Daniel Ortega, who many accuse of being an overtly authoritarian ruler.
For his part, Rezaee is wanted on charges of “aggravated murder and damages,” due to his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds more.
In 2006, Argentinean authorities issued an international warrant for Razaee’s arrest. The following year, the warrant was entered as a “Red Notice” through Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, which has 194 members, including Nicaragua.
In addition, Razaee’s flight path took him through the airspace of numerous other countries that are U.S. allies and Interpol members.
Strictly speaking, Interpol members are not legally obligated to make arrests based on a Red Notice. However, if Nicaragua, as well as every “flyover country,” chooses not to enforce the warrant, and if the United States, in particular, fails to pressure its allies to take action, a clear signal will be sent to Iran: leaders of the Islamic Republic can flout international security norms with impunity.
This is a particularly dangerous time to convey such a message, because the U.S. and five other world powers—France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China—are engaged in extensive negotiations whose aim is to forge an agreement with Tehran over its nuclear program.
Indeed, agreements are only as good as their mechanisms of enforcement. As such, developments on the Rezaee front will effectively serve to answer an important question—namely, whether deals cut with the U.S. and other major international players are even worth the paper they’re printed on.
In reality, the key issue in the nuclear talks may have less to do with uranium-enrichment levels, “sunset” provisions, inspection regimes or economic sanctions. Rather, the crucial question is whether any agreement with Iran is even enforceable.
And this is about more than just nuclear negotiations.
Rezaee has been personally sanctioned by the United States, while the IRGC, which he previously headed, is designated by Washington as a terrorist organization. Iran is the main backer of Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and some half a dozen other internationally designated terror groups.
Through the activities of these organizations and other proxies, Iran is the driving force behind the ongoing bloodshed and devastation in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority-ruled territories.
According to some estimates, the violence has claimed the lives of more than one million people and created more than 10 million refugees
Tens of millions of others continue to live under the oppressive influence or outright control of Iranian-backed terror groups, including the Lebanese people, who are effectively governed by Hezbollah, and the people of Iraq, whose government is littereThe al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigadesd with Iranian loyalists and the influence of at least five Iranian-backed terrorist groups.
Then there are the Palestinians, who continue to suffer at the hands of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, all U.S.-designated terrorist groups that project their power either through direct violence, such as in Gaza, that project their power either through direct violence such as in Gaza, or through their clout in the West Bank, which is ostensibly ruled by the P.A.
The horrific activities of these groups are already, in one way or another, clear violations of international law and treaties. And, of course, many of the individuals involved, like Rezaee, are subject to international arrest warrants.
Yet Rezaee continues to travel freely and openly, even in nations that are members of Interpol.
Inexplicably, this seems to have garnered almost no media attention, with an HonestReporting study having found only seven mentions of the story in news sites, three of which were published in Argentina, and none in mainstream outlets.
In comparison, over the same one-week period, news sites published more than half a million stories about the Omicron variant of the COvid-19 virus, more than 2,000 about the U.S. voting-rights bill and 55 about cats playing the piano.
The international community has an opportunity to prove that diplomatic cooperation actually means something: that it can save lives and offer hope to millions of at-risk people in war-torn countries across the Middle East. A message can be sent to Iran—the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism—that agreements matter, that diplomacy matters, that people matter.
Or, we can continue to turn a blind eye, the consequences of which will be as foreseeable as they are tragic.
The time to arrest Moshen Rezaee is now.
Daniel Pomerantz is the CEO of HonestReporting.com, an adjunct professor at the Bar Ilan and Reichman Universities in Israel, and an on-air expert in business, law and political issues. Twitter: @danielspeaksup.