Nov 16, 2023
$10 Billion for Iran: Just Another Day at Foggy Bottom
By National Review Editor
On Tuesday, the White House did the indefensible, again — it issued a waiver allowing the Iranian regime to access another $10 billion in funds that had previously been unavailable to it.
Even before Hamas’s brutal massacre of Israeli civilians, that move would have been national-security malpractice.
But given everything we know — and everything the White House has acknowledged — about Iran’s long-standing support for Hamas and its likely role in helping to prepare the group for October 7, this move is unfathomable, except from the warped perspective of the Obama-Biden fixation on accommodating Iran.
The State Department–issued waiver allows Iraq to pay its bills for electricity generated by Iran. Under a previous arrangement that had been around under the Trump administration, Iraq paid an escrow account that Tehran was not allowed to access; the State Department granted Iran access for the first time this past July. This week, it reissued the waiver to the tune of more than $10 billion.
The administration’s stated justification for it is incredibly cynical. They echo the spin used to defend the deal for $6 billion in sanctions relief it advanced earlier this year, in the weeks leading up to October 7 — that none of the money in question can be used for purposes other than paying for humanitarian goods.
The obvious problem with that explanation also applies here: Money is fungible, and Tehran will no doubt adjust for the new humanitarian funds by diverting more spending for malign purposes.
We’ve seen Iran-backed hostile activity escalate in recent weeks, with Tehran’s proxy forces across the region launching dozens of attacks on U.S. positions. And we’ve seen the feckless U.S. response: three pinprick responses, only one of which resulted in casualties among the groups targeting Americans.
In an alternate universe, October 7 would have shaken the Biden national-security team out of its obsession with trying to placate Iran, spurring Washington to drastically increase the pressure that it’s placing on the Islamic Republic.
Instead, the White House is delivering more of the same. It granted a visa to Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to visit New York for meetings at the U.N., a propaganda tour during which he leveled threats to America in his interviews with American news outlets.
It ducked sending even a single official to sit for an interview with 60 Minutes for the program’s recent special on Iranian assassination plots targeting the likes of John Bolton and Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad.
And it has not done anything of consequence to suggest that Iran’s backing of Hamas — which murdered more than 30 Americans on October 7 — should lead to severe ramifications.
Recall what the Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted that day as Hamas terrorists mowed down innocents: “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region.”
The $10 billion is an outrageous move that will materially assist Iranian terrorism. The sad thing is, at this point, it can hardly be regarded as an outlier. It’s just another day at Foggy Bottom.