The State Department’s annual report on terrorism was released yesterday, and Iran continues to be front and center as a supporter of terrorism.
Strangely, the administration doesn’t seem too concerned about that — or, at least not as concerned as they are about how the report will affect the negotiations with Iran over their nuclear program. In fact, the administration goes out of its way to decouple the nuclear issue from the terrorism issue, despite the fact that lifting the sanctions on Iran would boost their ability to support terrorism around the world.
Obama administration officials said they remain concerned about Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism, but insist the effort should be kept separate from the nuclear talks, which are reaching their climax ahead of a July 1 deadline for a permanent agreement.
“Our very serious and grave concerns about Iran’s support for terrorism remains unabated. And the negotiations that Iran has agreed to with the P5+1, our international community, is solely focused on making sure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Friday.
“So our view is, because of their support for terrorism, that is all the more reason that we need to make sure that they don’t obtain a nuclear weapon. And so that’s where our focus is right now.”
But many lawmakers don’t buy that argument and have been pushing the administration to take a tougher line against Tehran’s actions in the region. They have expressed concern that administration officials are going easy on Iran so as not to disturb the chances for a nuclear deal.
“You’ve got to take into account what Iran is doing and their influences throughout this region. And, by the way, I do not think I got any sort of answer about what’s your plan for dealing with Iran other than the nuclear issue,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, told reporters Wednesday after a hearing on U.S. Middle East policy at which Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the 35,000 U.S. troops in the region were there partly to check Iran’s “malign influence.”
The report notes that Iran continues to support Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, the Shiite extremist group Hezbollah in Lebanon and Shia militias in Iraq that have been accused of abuses against Sunni Arabs there.
Iran also is providing arms, financing, training and travel to foreign fighters helping the Assad regime in Syria, including Afghans, the report noted. The Wall Street Journal reported June 11 that Iran is backing the Taliban in Afghanistan with cash and arms.
Much of the activity is funneled through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force, which are the targets of much of the U.S. sanctions against Iran. Though the administration insists it will lift sanctions only related to the nuclear issue if there’s any deal with Iran, lawmakers have raised concerns that the lifting of any sanctions will provide a cash infusion for those groups to expand their activities.
Iran is backing groups that have killed Americans over the years, but it’s ok to lift sanctions because for sure, they are not going to get their hands on nuclear weapons. That dubious assertion — given what we know about what the Iranians will be able to get away with under a final deal — should be placed in the context that the extra tens of billions of dollars that Iran will earn from oil, gas, and other business interests will find its way into the coffers of terrorists.
For the last year, we have been assured that Iran is in a box and can’t afford to offend the west. But we now know that Iran has enriched more uranium and continues to support terrorism. We are constantly finding out that the assumptions that undergird these negotiations are as wrong as wrong can be and the Obama administration hasn’t a clue about the nature of the enemy they are up against.