Tag Archives: Assad

Obama administration sent $400 million cash ransom to Iran for hostage release

Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people?
Is Barack Obama focused on protecting the American people and our allies?

Why do civilized countries have a policy of not paying ransom to terrorists for hostages? Because if you pay them once, then it emboldens them to kidnap again and again. Anyone who knows anything about national security and foreign policy knows this: we do not negotiate with terrorists.

But what happens if you elect a drugged-up community organizer who never released his college grades to be the first “affirmative action President”?

The Wall Street Journal explains:

The Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran that coincided with the January release of four Americans detained in Tehran, according to U.S. and European officials and congressional staff briefed on the operation afterward.

Wooden pallets stacked with euros, Swiss francs and other currencies were flown into Iran on an unmarked cargo plane, according to these officials. The U.S. procured the money from the central banks of the Netherlands and Switzerland, they said.

[…]“With the nuclear deal done, prisoners released, the time was right to resolve this dispute as well,” President Barack Obama said at the White House on Jan. 17—without disclosing the $400 million cash payment.

[…]Iranian press reports have quoted senior Iranian defense officials describing the cash as a ransom payment. The Iranian foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

[…]Since the cash shipment, the intelligence arm of the Revolutionary Guard has arrested two more Iranian-Americans. Tehran has also detained dual-nationals from France, Canada and the U.K. in recent months.

[…]The Obama administration has refused to disclose how it paid any of the $1.7 billion, despite congressional queries, outside of saying that it wasn’t paid in dollars. Lawmakers have expressed concern that the cash would be used by Iran to fund regional allies, including the Assad regime in Syria and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization.

[…]Iran has acknowledged providing both financial and military aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and deploying Iranian soldiers there.

Of course. Because appeasement of tyrants emboldens tyrants to be more aggressive. Anyone with the basic moral sense of a functioning adult knows this.

Republicans called the entire $1.7 billion Iran deal a ransom for hostages:

Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas and a fierce foe of the Iran nuclear deal, accused President Barack Obama of paying “a $1.7 billion ransom to the ayatollahs for U.S. hostages.”

“This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures” of Americans, he said.

[…]Members of Congress are seeking to pass legislation preventing the Obama administration from making any further cash payments to Iran. One of the bills requires for the White House to make public the details of its $1.7 billion transfer to Iran.

“President Obama’s…payment to Iran in January, which we now know will fund Iran’s military expansion, is an appalling example of executive branch governance,” said Sen.James Lankford (R., Okla.), who co-wrote the bill. “Subsidizing Iran’s military is perhaps the worst use of taxpayer dollars ever by an American president.”

Republicans are trying to get answers, but the Democrats are hiding everything – just like they did with the gun-running to Mexican drug cartels, the unsecure Hillary e-mail server, the Benghazi cover-up, the IRS persecution of conservatives, and so on.

The Washington Free Beacon explains:

“It has been seven months since President Obama announced that he was giving the Islamic Republic of Iran almost $2 billion,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.  “And we are just now finding out damning details about how $400 million, which is less than half of the total, was sent to Iran using foreign aircraft and foreign currencies.”

Pompeo led several unsuccessful inquiries into the cash payout. He said the administration has been stonewalling efforts to obtain a full readout of the exchange in both classified and unclassified settings since January.

[…]“That is far too long of a timeline, especially as it is in the face of the Obama administration totally stonewalling congressional inquiries into this matter since January,” Pompeo said.

None of this is surprising, given Obama’s other anti-American actions. We’ve already seen Obama release dozens of known Islamic terrorists who were captured on the battlefield – many of whom returned to battlefield to kill more Americans and innocent civilians.

Obama spokesman admits that the money is being given to a nation that supports terrorists:

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during Wednesday’s press briefing it is possible the $400 million that the Obama administration airlifted to Iran could have been spent on funding terrorism.

“The president was quite forward-leaning in advance of the nuclear deal even being completed in acknowledging that we know that Iran supports terrorism,” Earnest said. “We know that Iran supports Hezbollah and the Assad regime, and it is certainly possible that some of the money that Iran has is being used for those purposes, too.”

What does Obama care? It’s not his money, it’s your money. Pass the selfie stick and the golf clubs.

Report: Iran shipping arms and personnel to Syria through Iraq

From left-leaning Reuters.

Excerpt:

Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly military personnel and large quantities of weapons across Iraqi airspace to Syria to aid President Bashar al-Assad in his attempt to crush an 18-month uprising against his government, according to a Western intelligence report seen by Reuters.

Earlier this month, U.S. officials said they were questioning Iraq about Iranian flights in Iraqi airspace suspected of ferrying arms to Assad, a staunch Iranian ally. On Wednesday, U.S. Senator John Kerry threatened to review U.S. aid to Baghdad if it does not halt such overflights.

Iraq says it does not allow the passage of any weapons through its airspace. But the intelligence report obtained by Reuters says Iranian weapons have been flowing into Syria via Iraq in large quantities. Such transfers, the report says, are organized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“This is part of a revised Iranian modus operandi that U.S. officials have only recently addressed publicly, following previous statements to the contrary,” said the report, a copy of which was provided by a U.N. diplomatic source.

“It also flies in the face of declarations by Iraqi officials,” it said. “Planes are flying from Iran to Syria via Iraq on an almost daily basis, carrying IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) personnel and tens of tons of weapons to arm the Syrian security forces and militias fighting against the rebels.”

It added that Iran was also “continuing to assist the regime in Damascus by sending trucks overland via Iraq” to Syria.

I was recently having a conversation with someone who was all in favor of regime change in the Middle East, but thought that the best way to achieve that was by abandoning our military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. I didn’t say anything to him about it, but I do think it’s important to understand that any kind of intelligence gathering, covert operations, interdiction, espionage, etc. depends on having military bases nearby to support such operations. In particular, covert operations often require military support. You can’t wish the Middle East well, and then pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq. We need to be there to stabilize the region, just like we did in Japan, South Korea, etc. after other wars.

Related posts

Top Iranian official assisting Syria to crackdown on protestors

Map of the Middle East
Map of the Middle East

From Haaretz.

Excerpt:

A top Iranian military official is activily aiding the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in suppressing popular unrest throughout the country, a top member of the National Syrian Council said on Monday.

According to the Syrian official, Kassam Salimani, commander of the Quds Force, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard special forces unit, has arrived in Syria recently and has taken up a spot in the war room which manages army maneuvers against opposition forces.

[…]The Quds Force includes 15,000 elite soldiers who operated, among other locations, in Iraq during the war, and the specialty of which is engaging in unconventional warfare on foreign soil. Among other duties, the Quds Force is in charge of traning and funding Hezbollah.

Salimani’s presence in Syria serves as an indication of the kind of battle that Assad is planning against opposition forces, with the Syrian army reportedly planning to wage all out war against the rebel city of Homs.

[…]The report also claimed that the Syrian army for the first time has been using rockets in order to target houses as well as mortars to hit populated areas. So far, 60 people were reportedly killed and hundreds wounded in this battle, as well as reports of the demolition of seven houses, residents and all.

[…]Syrian opposition organizations that are active internationally are currently trying to gain a political front bypassing the UN Security Council, where a resolution underwritten by the Arab League failed due to Russian and Chinese vetoes on Saturday.

At this stage, opposition leaders are trying to find a way forward, as it is clear that Turkey and the Arab states oppose military action against the Assad regime, and the imposing of economic sanctions will not stop Assad.

Facing Russia and Chinese opposition, and the Iranian threat to open a new front, there is doubt whether a western coalition will agree to act directly against Syria. The question is whether the Free Syrian Army will be able to get additional military assistance, and to arm itself with heavy artillery, tanks and shells so that it will be able to pose a real challenge to the Syrian army, and change the civilian resistance into a real military struggle, much like the rebel forces in Libya.

Where’s Obama? Why isn’t he supporting the civilians and the Syrian resistance?

Well, Obama only commits the US armed forces to wars that are likely to result in radical Islamist governments – as in Libya and Egypt. That’s “smart diplomacy”. America would benefit if the Assad regime were replaced in Syria – and that’s why Obama isn’t going to lift a finger to make that happen.

Exceptional speech on foreign policy by Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty delivered this must-read speech on foreign policy to the Council on Foreign Relations today.

Excerpt:

President Obama has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to these events.  He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles.

And parts of the Republican Party now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments.  This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party.  The stakes are simply too high, and the opportunity is simply too great.

No one in this Administration predicted the events of the Arab spring – but the freedom deficit in the Arab world was no secret.  For 60 years, Western nations excused and accommodated the lack of freedom in the Middle East.  That could not last.  The days of comfortable private deals with dictators were coming to an end in the age of Twitter, You Tube, and Facebook.  And history teaches there is no such thing as stable oppression.

President Obama has ignored that lesson of history.  Instead of promoting democracy – whose fruit we see now ripening across the region – he adopted a murky policy he called “engagement.”

“Engagement” meant that in 2009, when the Iranian ayatollahs stole an election, and the people of that country rose up in protest, President Obama held his tongue.  His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels.

While protesters were killed and tortured, Secretary Clinton said the Administration was “waiting to see the outcome of the internal Iranian processes.”  She and the president waited long enough to see the Green Movement crushed.

“Engagement” meant that in his first year in office, President Obama cut democracy funding for Egyptian civil society by 74 percent.  As one American democracy organization noted, this was “perceived by Egyptian democracy activists as signaling a lack of support.”  They perceived correctly.  It was a lack of support.

“Engagement” meant that when crisis erupted in Cairo this year, as tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square, Secretary Clinton declared, “the Egyptian Government is stable.”  Two weeks later, Mubarak was gone.  When Secretary Clinton visited Cairo after Mubarak’s fall, democratic activist groups refused to meet with her.  And who can blame them?

The forces we now need to succeed in Egypt — the pro-democracy, secular political parties — these are the very people President Obama cut off, and Secretary Clinton dismissed.

The Obama “engagement” policy in Syria led the Administration to call Bashar al Assad a “reformer.”  Even as Assad’s regime was shooting hundreds of protesters dead in the street, President Obama announced his plan to give Assad “an alternative vision of himself.”  Does anyone outside a therapist’s office have any idea what that means?  This is what passes for moral clarity in the Obama Administration.

By contrast, I called for Assad’s departure on March 29; I call for it again today.  We should recall our ambassador from Damascus; and I call for that again today.  The leader of the United States should never leave those willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom wondering where America stands.  As President, I will not.

I blogged quite a bit about the peaceful protestors in Iran. Remember Neda Soltan who was shot down in the streets? And yet Obama had almost nothing to say about the pro-democracy movements. And Obama was on the wrong side in the Honduras election, as well – he backed Manuel Zelaya. It’s good that Tim Pawlenty has something to say about it.

And a bit more  of his speech:

The third category consists of states that are directly hostile to America.  They include Iran and Syria.  The Arab Spring has already vastly undermined the appeal of Al Qaeda and the killing of Osama Bin Laden has significantly weakened it.

The success of peaceful protests in several Arab countries has shown the world that terror is not only evil, but will eventually be overcome by good.  Peaceful protests may soon bring down the Assad regime in Syria.  The 2009 protests in Iran inspired Arabs to seek their freedom.  Similarly, the Arab protests of this year, and the fall of regime after broken regime, can inspire Iranians to seek their freedom once again.

We have a clear interest in seeing an end to Assad’s murderous regime.  By sticking to Bashar al Assad so long, the Obama Administration has not only frustrated Syrians who are fighting for freedom—it has demonstrated strategic blindness.  The governments of Iran and Syria are enemies of the United States.  They are not reformers and never will be.  They support each other.  To weaken or replace one, is to weaken or replace the other.

The fall of the Assad mafia in Damascus would weaken Hamas, which is headquartered there.  It would weaken Hezbollah, which gets its arms from Iran, through Syria.  And it would weaken the Iranian regime itself.

To take advantage of this moment, we should press every diplomatic and economic channel to bring the Assad reign of terror to an end.  We need more forceful sanctions to persuade Syria’s Sunni business elite that Assad is too expensive to keep backing.  We need to work with Turkey and the Arab nations and the Europeans, to further isolate the regime.  And we need to encourage opponents of the regime by making our own position very clear, right now:  Bashar al-Assad must go.

When he does, the mullahs of Iran will find themselves isolated and vulnerable.  Syria is Iran’s only Arab ally.  If we peel that away, I believe it will hasten the fall of the mullahs.  And that is the ultimate goal we must pursue.  It’s the singular opportunity offered to the world by the brave men and women of the Arab Spring.

The march of freedom in the Middle East cuts across the region’s diversity of religious, ethnic, and political groups.  But it is born of a particular unity.  It is a united front against stolen elections and stolen liberty, secret police, corruption, and the state-sanctioned violence that is the essence of the Iranian regime’s tyranny.

So this is a moment to ratchet up pressure and speak with clarity.  More sanctions.  More and better broadcasting into Iran.  More assistance to Iranians to access the Internet and satellite TV and the knowledge and freedom that comes with it.  More efforts to expose the vicious repression inside that country and expose Teheran’s regime for the pariah it is.

And, very critically, we must have more clarity when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program.  In 2008, candidate Barack Obama told AIPAC that he would “always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel.”  This year, he told AIPAC “we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”  So I have to ask: are all the options still on the table or not?  If he’s not clear with us, it’s no wonder that even our closest allies are confused.

The Administration should enforce all sanctions for which legal authority already exits.  We should enact and then enforce new pending legislation which strengthens sanctions particularly against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who control much of the Iranian economy.

Here’s a clip from the discussion with CFR after the speech:

You know, I was listening to a fiscal conservative being interviewed on the radio the other day and the person was saying that he had more fear of Obama’s foreign policy than of Obama’s economic policy. This was after he had laid out a gloomy economic picture.

Obama restores diplomatic ties with Venezuela and Syria

Venezuela

The extremely left-wing Al-Jazeera reports that Obama intends to reinstate diplomatic relations with Venezuela. (H/T Gateway Pundit)

Excerpt:

The United States and Venezuela are to reinstate ambassadors to Caracas and Washington, setting aside a diplomatic spat that soured ties last year.

The two nations expelled each other’s envoys last September in a dispute involving allegations by Bolivia, a close ally of Venezuela, that Washington was meddling in its internal affairs.

The normalisation of diplomatic ties “will take place in the coming days, and as soon as the ambassadors have resumed their functions we will move forward to a more fluid communication,” Nicolas Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister, said on Wednesday.

Venezuela is a well-known sponsor of terrorism in neighboring Colombia, as well as a communist nation, with all the standard losses of liberty and prosperity that entails.

Syria

Syria is a puppet of Iran and a supporter of Hezbollah, which menaces Israel from the north with terrorist attacks. George W. Bush withdrew the last ambassador after it came out that Syria was involved in the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Lebanon. But Obama thinks it’s a good idea to re-instate relations with them, as well.

The extremely left-wing Associated Press reports:

President Barack Obama plans to return an ambassador to Syria, filling a post that has been vacant for four years and marking an acceleration of Washington’s engagement with the Arab world, the White House said on Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama’s decision was aimed at fulfilling his promise to show more U.S. engagement in the Arab world and not a response to any explicit policy change on Syria’s part.

He cited a series of meetings between Syrian and U.S. officials since Obama took office.

“This strongly reflects the administration’s recognition of the role Syria plays, and the hope of the role that the Syrian government can play constructively, to promote peace and stability in the region,” Gibbs said.

Obama wants to dialogue with ruthless, murdering dictators – the kind of people the left regards as good.

What it means

Briefly, when the US is seen as consorting with terrorist-supporting regimes, it is a blow to all the freedom-loving people in the world. Instead of supporting those who are imprisoned, beaten, tortured and murdered by the dictators, Obama is supporting the dictators, by giving their terrorist-supporting regimes legitimacy in the eyes of the public, and discouraging pro-democracy movements.