Biden administration empowering the Iranian regime

The Biden administration’s shambolic campaign to empower the Iranian regime is an underappreciated scandal. The U.S. has just granted the Iranian regime a $6 billion lifeline and will release Iranian prisoners, as part of a deal to free five American hostages held unjustly by Tehran.

All Americans ought to celebrate the return home of people arbitrarily held by an authoritarian regime. But this prisoner swap empowers the Iranian government and vindicates its practice of strategic hostage-taking, thus making future abductions by Tehran and America’s other enemies even more likely. And the funds that will flow to Iran will enable its ongoing military aggression and human-rights abuses.

The winners include Iran’s security apparatus, which, despite the administration’s strained assurances, will receive a windfall. The losers: targets of Iranian terrorism in the Middle East, American service members posted there, anti-regime demonstrators in Iran, and Ukrainians under bombardment by Iranian weapons sent to Russia.

The arrangement announced last week resulted in their release from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison to a hotel in Tehran. In the coming weeks, they will be sent to Qatar, which brokered the deal, and, from there, return home.

Much of the deal is shrouded in secrecy, including the date of the hostages’ return. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told Voice of America that “we don’t know exactly how long it’s going to take to get them home.”

The administration has also declined to name the Iranians that the U.S. will release in return, citing the sensitivity of the arrangement and the series of steps that still need to be carried out before the deal is brought to fruition.

The administration’s other prisoner swaps, which while sending Americans home have also led to the release of such illustrious individuals as Russian arms-dealing kingpin Viktor Bout, have taken root in a way similar to this one. But the deal last week is unique in that it will result in a huge payout to a terrorist state.

The pivotal part of this complicated process, though, involves Washington’s blessing for South Korea to transfer $6 billion in funds frozen by the U.S. to an account overseen by Qatar. That amount was supposed to go to Iran for oil purchases, but the Trump administration blocked the payment from going through.

According to Team Biden, there will be significant restrictions on the use of funds, which would be limited to food, medicine, and medical equipment — and Washington will have “full visibility” over their use by Iran, as Kirby put it.

The Iranians, however, see those purported restrictions as pure fiction, and they’re not exactly shy about telling the world that: “The decision on how to utilize these unfrozen resources and financial assets lies with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Iran’s foreign ministry said about the deal last week.

Tehran seems to be willing to state bluntly what the administration has to deny, because it’s so obviously outrageous. There’s still a lot that we don’t know about this deal, and about the administration’s Iran policy writ large — see Iran envoy Robert Malley, who has been suspended while he faces investigation by the FBI for issues related to his security clearance.

What we already know is a scandal. What we don’t yet know might be even more disturbing.

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