U.S. and Qatar agree to not release $6 billion Biden gave back to Iran

Well, well, well. Looks like this wasn’t a done deal after all, eh? 

What took them so long?

From the New York Times:

The United States and Qatar have agreed to block Iran’s access to $6 billion in funds recently transferred to the nation as part of a deal between Washington and Tehran that led to the release of five imprisoned Americans from Iran last month.

Wally Adeyemo, the deputy Treasury secretary, told House Democrats on Thursday that Iran would no longer have access to the funds, according to a person familiar with the matter. The money was under close supervision and strict conditions that it be used only for humanitarian purposes.

The move comes amid harsh criticism, mainly from Republicans, that the Biden administration gave Iran access to a vast sum that freed up other funds for Tehran to provide support to Hamas before its attack on Israel over the weekend.

The Times retails this development as though it was a partisan victory for Republicans, inadvertently exposing the extent to which the Biden administration was committed to transferring these funds to Iranian custody. But the congressional GOP wasn’t alone in imploring the Biden administration to refreeze these South Korean assets, which were supposed to compensate Iran for its oil exports before the Trump administration intervened. Democrats, too, implored Biden to put a lock on this money. The White House’s reluctant capitulation is a victory for international security, not the GOP. But the White House’s acquiescence does reveal how correct Republicans were to question the Biden administration’s claims about the harmlessness of the $6 billion.

“These funds have absolutely nothing to do with the horrific attacks today, and this is not the time to spread disinformation,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson insisted. Moreover, State Department spokesman Matt Miller insisted that the funds could only be used by the Iranian regime “for humanitarian purposes.” But as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi observed, the thing everyone loves about money is that it’s fungible. Iran can direct those funds “wherever we need it,” he said. So, in theory, whatever cash was previously earmarked for food and medicine can now be devoted to the transnational terrorism the Islamic Republic so lavishly funds.

“Not a dollar of that money has been spent, and I will leave it at that,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said when asked on Tuesday about the possibility that the White House might refreeze these assets. He refused to respond when asked if the president had “considered” clamping down on these funds. But even as he spoke, the pressure on the administration mounted. Senators Mitch McConnell and Tom Cotton had prepared legislation that would have forced the administration to reimpose the hold on these funds, and Democrats such as Senator Jon Tester, Joe Manchin, and Jackie Rosen seemed inclined to join them. Indeed, Senator Cotton said on the Commentary podcast on Thursday that he and the Senate minority leader would seek unanimous consent for their legislation — a humiliation for the White House that it might have just narrowly avoided.

Does the release of these funds now mean that the White House is engaged in its own “disinformation” campaign? Why refreeze the funds at all if they were so siloed and tightly monitored that they couldn’t in any way contribute to the destabilization of the region? The administration backed itself into a corner by insisting upon the release of these funds even after the bloodshed on October 7. The refreezing of these assets might complicate the administration’s capitulatory instinct when Americans are held hostage, but that is a problem for another day. Today’s problem is a war in the Middle East in which the U.S. and Iran find themselves on opposite sides. And there “comes a time to join the side you’re on.

If all this Hamas operation costs Iran is $6 billion, they should consider themselves lucky. Israel has its hands full with Gaza at the moment, but don’t think for a moment that the Mossad will forget to settle the score with Tehran. Only through such disincentives will the message get through to the mullahs.

In the meantime, we have a lesson to learn ourselves: Don’t pay the Dane-geld. It’s not always going to be this easy to get it back.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post