The Iranian government has ostensibly launched a new cash-for-prisoners scheme. Here is how it works: Iran takes foreign hostages, uses them as leverage for future negotiations with Western governments, and receives cash for prisoner swaps. President Joe Biden has seemingly fallen victim to this scam hook, line, and sinker as Tehran will now swim in billions of dollars while promising to be good.
Iran Fools Joe?
Biden and his administration agreed with the Iranian leadership to swap prisoners and release $6 billion in frozen funds. Tehran released five US citizens detained in Iran, while Washington let go of five Iranian citizens situated in the United States. But the arrangement also transfers $6 billion in non-taxpayer funds from South Korea to Qatar without concerns of violating American sanctions. The money can be used only for food and medicine, the White House confirmed.
The Americans include Siamak Namazi, imprisoned in Iran since 2016. The others consisted of environmental activist Morad Tahbaz, detained in 2018; and Emad Shargi, a traveler stuck in the Middle Eastern country since 2018. The two others were not identified.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken approved the deal late last week following a month-long process. Writing in a letter to Congress on Sept. 18, he asserted that allowing the funds to be transferred to accounts in Qatar will ensure that the money is used for “humanitarian trade.” In 2018, then-President Donald Trump abandoned the international nuclear deal and reintroduced sanctions, freezing the $6 billion in crude oil exports.
Biden celebrated the results. “I am grateful to our partners at home and abroad for their tireless efforts to help us achieve this outcome, including the Governments of Qatar, Oman, Switzerland, and South Korea,” he said in a statement. “As we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remember those who did not return.”
But not everyone was happy with what went down. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) called it a “$6 billion hostage deal,” adding that this “creates a direct incentive for America’s adversaries to conduct future hostage-taking.” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) thinks this cash-for-prisoners initiative “will only greenlight Iran’s illicit actions and encourage first hostage ‘diplomacy.'”
Indeed, this is the chief concern moving forward: Tehran will repeatedly take hostages for money. The same type of situation occurred under previous regimes. In 2016, then-President Barack Obama worked out a deal to release five US prisoners in Iran, including reporter Jason Rezaian, in exchange for seven Iranians and the abolition of charges or Interpol red notices for 14 others. Former President Trump also released a couple of Iranian citizens, including a scientist named Masoud Soleimani.
But White House officials contend that the $6 billion belongs to Iran because South Korea had initially paid for the nation’s energy. Plus, according to the deal’s provisions, the funds will be monitored and limited to specific conditions not under US sanctions and could be frozen at any moment. Meanwhile, a senior US official told reporters in a Sept. 17 background briefing that the prisoner swap agreement was not the beginning of new indirect talks. Instead, the actions could help abolish a barrier to potentially resuming negotiations surrounding its nuclear ambitions.
The $6 Billion Question
Despite Democrats and the mainstream media proclaiming that the $6 billion will be used only for humanitarian purposes, the Iranian government has already contradicted this claim. President Ebrahim Raisi told NBC News’ Lester Holt in a recent interview that “we will decide” how the money is used. “This money belongs to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and naturally, we will decide, the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide to spend it wherever we need it,” he said. “How to spend our money, of course, it is under the authority of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” So, there it is: A hostage-taking foreign leader tells a major US news network point blank that all the assurances made by the US government are worthless and that the billions can be utilized for anything, be it terrorism or nuclear ambitions.
Liberty Nation’s Dave Patterson recently asked: “Is someone at the State Department working for Iran?” A famous quote is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” At this point in the president’s term, the administration might fall victim to being scammed by a Nigerian prince.