Biden admin gives Iran access to $10 billion from Iraq

It’s reasonable to conclude that, while there is never a good time to hand over $10 billion to the rogue regime in control of the so-called Islamic Republic of Iran, this is an especially inopportune moment for such a transfer. But then, it seems that reason has no hold over the Biden administration.

From the Washington Free Beacon

The Biden administration on Tuesday reapproved a sanctions waiver that will allow Iran to access upward of $10 billion in frozen assets, the State Department confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon.

The sanctions waiver, which was set to expire today after first being authorized for a period of 120 days in July, allows Iraq to transfer payments for multibillion-dollar electricity imports from Iran into accounts outside of the country that can be used by Tehran. This is the first time the Biden administration has renewed the waiver since the Iran-backed terror group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel that was reported to have been planned with Tehran's support.

Renewal of the waiver "allows Iraq to use its own funds to render payment for Iranian electricity imports into restricted Iranian accounts in Iraq," a State Department official told the Free Beacon, speaking only on background. "These restricted funds can only be used for humanitarian and other non-sanctionable transactions." 

The $10 billion was earmarked as payments for Iranian electricity, but it was being held in an escrow account that allowed Baghdad to avoid triggering penalties associated with violating the sanctions against Tehran. The administration maintains the waiver was necessary to preserve Iraq’s electricity supplies, but the cost of that enterprise is steep. Regardless of its motives, the White House is still funding a regime with which it is engaged in active hostilities.

The sequence of events here is utterly bewildering. The United States has come under attack from terrorist militia groups throughout the Middle East that are either aligned with or controlled by elements in Tehran. On no fewer than 56 occasions, U.S. positions in Iraq and Syria have come under drone and rocket attacks from Shiite militias under Iran’s control. Fifty-nine U.S. service personnel have been injured in those strikes. The escalating tempo of attacks eventually convinced Joe Biden to retaliate. Three times in as many weeks, the Pentagon executed precision strikes on targets in Syria explicitly because they were sites used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. At least one of those rounds of strikes produced up to seven fatalities among “Iranian proxy fighters.”

The theater of hostilities is not limited to Iraq and Syria. The Iran-aligned Houthi militia group in Yemen has been firing ballistic missiles in Israel’s general direction for weeks. On at least one occasion, a U.S. Navy missile destroyer intercepted several of those missiles over the Red Sea. American citizens still languish in the captivity of Hamas, a group of Iranian cats’ paws who benefited from Tehran’s assistance in advance of the October 7 massacre. Two carrier groups and one Ohio-class guided missile submarine are parked off the coast of the Levant with the aim of deterring the well-armed Iranian proxy group Hezbollah from opening a second front against Israel. Iran is providing Russia with sophisticated weapons platforms, including drones, for use in its war against Ukraine — a war to which the U.S. has committed weapons, money, and prestige in the effort to beat back the Russian advance. In addition to agents loyal to Iran and Russia, the United States is apparently set on going to war against itself.

What on earth is the White House thinking? It was just over one month ago that the administration sought the transfer of $6 billion in frozen South Korean funds to the Iranian regime — a maneuver that resulted in an eruption of protest from Congress. “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 unconvincingly. Her protest might have landed flat because even the Iranian regime refused to play along. Those funds will be directed “wherever we need it,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi insisted. And, of course, he’s right. Whatever controls the West places on those funds, money is nonetheless fungible — which is to say that whatever Iran had earmarked for humanitarian purposes is now freed up to support its objective of destabilizing the international environment.

What is the logic for giving Iran another $10 billion? Is Iranian electricity somehow more effective at keeping the lights on in Baghdad than the millions of dollars worth of kilowatt hours Iraq imports from Saudi Arabia? Dispassionate observers must conclude that this bizarre decision is an outgrowth of the administration’s addiction to the idea that it can reconstitute some version of an Iran nuclear deal before Biden’s first term is out. If there is another compelling rationale behind the White House’s effort to line the pockets of a declared adversary with whom we are in something resembling a shooting war by proxy, I’d love to hear it. In the absence of that rationale, we’re left to conclude that the administration is prioritizing its ideological objectives over the immediate safety of U.S. troops and America’s geostrategic goals in the Middle East.

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