Filed under: Bureaucracy, Foreign Policy, Intelligence, Iran, Islam, Law, National Security, Politics, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Jason Rezaian, Marine Amir Hekmati, Saeed Abedini
A deal that freed five Americans from Iranian jails at a cost of $1.7 billion in U.S. funds comes with a claim in Tehran that the transaction was a ransom payment. The U.S. Treasury Department wired the money to Iran about the same time that the radical theocracy in Iran allowed three American prisoners to leave Tehran on a Swiss air force plane. The prisoner swap also meant freedom for two other Americans held in Iran, and the U.S. freed seven Iranians who had been charged or convicted of crimes in this country.
The $1.7 billion financial settlement concluded a 35-year legal battle that concerned a purchase of U.S. arms by Iran’s last monarch Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi that were never delivered because of the Iranian revolution in 1979 when the Shah was deposed.
The White House claimed that the settlement was good for American taxpayers because the U.S. was likely to lose in the arbitration at The Hague, and could have been liable for billions more if the case had dragged on.
The release of hostages came at the same time as the implementation of the nuclear agreement with Iran that lifted the international economic sanctions in exchange for Iran ending its nuclear program. They supposedly filled the heavy-water reactor core with concrete, but if the IAEA inspectors actually got to inspect the concrete, I haven’t seen any confirmation. Earlier, there was some talk that inspectors would not be admitted to any Iranian facilities, and they’d just have to take Iran’s word for it. The Wall Street Journal reported:
A senior Iranian military official has publicly stated that the clearing of the $1.7 billion was a key factor in Tehran’s decision to release the imprisoned Americans, most of whom were charged with espionage.
“Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies and doesn’t have to do with the [nuclear] talks,” said Gen. Mohammad Reza-Naghdi, commander of Iran’s powerful Basij militia, in state media on Wednesday. “The way to take our rights back from the arrogants [Americans] is to become powerful, and we must grow stronger and stronger every day.”
Jason Rezaian’s release got the most attention because he was a Washing Post journalist. The others were Marine veteran Amir Hekmati who had just about given up after four years in prison and Christian pastor Saeed Abedini. The fourth was Nosratollah Khosravi-Roodsari. A recently detained student. Matthew Trevithick was separately released. It’s high time we had them all home.
The most important part of the deal was Iran’s claim that the money returned was a ransom — which implies that Iran’s bad behavior, falsely accusing American citizens of Iranian background of espionage, and imprisoning them gets a big ransom from the “arrogants”. When you reward bad behavior you get more of it. President Obama does not seem to understand much about strategy, ransoms, or rewarding bad behavior, which he has been doing a lot of.
Obama’s release of terrorists from Guantanamo, which is part of his unfortunate obsession with closing the detention facility, plays into this deal. Mr. Obama seems to believe that terrorists use Gitmo as a recruiting tool. This was once true some years ago, but no longer is. And Mr. Obama seems to value “world opinion” which he misconstrues, as favoring his end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and an Americas retreat to isolationism as a positive agenda.
Expect all of the released terrorists to return to the war against America and Americans, as so many of those previously released already have. The nations to which we turn them over don’t do a very good job of keeping track of them. These remaining detainees are considered the “worst of the worst,” committed to killing Americans. It is against the law to bring them to this country, but Obama is looking for a way around that.
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