1. Emboldens the Regime
While there’s much to celebrate about the release of Americans that were imprisoned in Iran, the United States unfreezing billions of dollars of Iran assets emboldens the regime to repeat their hostage diplomacy scheme. Since the very foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the Islamist supporters in Iran, Lebanon, and other parts of the world have been able to make demands of the U.S. and other western countries by kidnapping government officials and civilians. Despite international condemnation against kidnapping citizens, Iran continues to be emboldened and incentivized in their kidnapping diplomacy, facing no credible consequences and even gaining rewards. While the Biden administration may claim that the U.S. is providing relief to the people in Tehran, the fact is that much of the funds will go to strengthen the Ayatollahs and allow the Islamic government to continue its campaign of repression against Iranian citizens and sponsor terrorism abroad.
2. Worries Allies
As the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to fund Islamic-terrorist groups in the Middle East, the latest hostage transfer for funds has allies in the region worrying. Following the hostage transfer, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu sounded off on the exchange, stating that the latest actions “do not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, will not stop its nuclear program, and will only provide it with funds that will go to terrorist elements sponsored by Iran.” Israel’s Prime Minister and other experts see the funds going to groups like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, using the money to train more terrorist fighters, purchase lethal arms against Israel, and lead to more rocket attacks against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. In the Persian Gulf, terrorist groups like the Houthis in Yemen and other proxies will have the means to continue launching attacks.
3. Strengthens Terror Proxies
The exchange will strengthen the terrorist entities supported by Tehran, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), its own paramilitary branch. Observers of the latest hostage transfer for funds note that the administration’s latest actions are akin to when then-Secretary of State John Kerry, under the Obama administration, acknowledged that the billions of dollars in sanctions relief to Iran would go to some terrorist groups. Despite promising to use the funds for the Iranian people, the regime in Tehran has had a history of lying to the international community about its true intentions, transferring vast amounts of funds from its domestic and international coffers to use for terrorism against America, the West, Israel, and Arab monarchies. In the past few months, terrorist proxies like Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis in Yemen, and Iranian-backed Iraqi groups have been able to receive weapons from the regime to sow chaos, and now thanks to billions in unfrozen assets, such groups will be able to have more financial resources than ever before.
4. Provide Relief to the Regime
With the Ayatollahs receiving around $6 billion (about $18 per person in the U.S.) in sanctions relief from the U.S., many Iranian experts say such funds will assist the mullahs and their cronies. Following the major protests in Iran, ranging from the 2009 Green Revolution to the ongoing revolution which began in September following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s morality police over her hijab wear, the Islamic Republic has relied on its security forces to crush these movements. As a result of the Biden administration’s latest actions, the Islamic Republic will now have financial resources to continue to provide plainclothes, proxies, and supporters to crackdown on dissidents, target women who defy Islamic law, and purchase more military equipment to defend against any potential strikes. According to Iranian experts, the unfrozen assets will also most likely help the regime in its nuclear program, providing Tehran with the financial resources to possibly build more underground centrifuges, purchase material for atomic enrichment, and strengthen the security of its nuclear program. Subsequently, family and friends closely associated with the Ayatollahs will also gain a significant financial boost, given that they will most likely be able to transfer such funds overseas and secure their financial safety net.
5. Diminishes American Strength
In the past few months, America’s presence on the global stage has been devastating following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s brokering peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and international economic turmoil. While the Biden administration continues to tell Americans that the country is strong and secure against foreign threats, the latest hostage transfer suggests that the administration is kowtowing to enemies, displaying weakness. From Republican to Democrat administrations, Iran and other threats have been able to diminish America’s strength through hostage diplomacy and terrorist attacks, devastating the lives of military and civilian personnel at home and abroad. At a time when China, Russia, and Iran are consolidating their strength and power against the US, the latest actions are a boost to the rising axis that sees itself expanding in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East.