A deal between the Biden administration and Iran has Republicans crying foul. Is the president sealing his own fate, as Jimmy Carter did in 1979? Here is what’s happening.
An Alarming Deal
On September 11th, the Biden administration notified Congress that it was moving forward with an alarming deal that’s been in the works for several weeks.
After a series of negotiations, Iran has agreed to release five Americans it has been holding as prisoners.
In exchange, the United States will also release five Iranians. But the American side of the deal includes another sweetener.
As part of the conditions for releasing the American hostages, Tehran will regain access to about $6 billion in oil revenue. The U.S. had frozen those funds as part of various sanctions against Iran.
Follow the Money
While the Biden administration insists that the U.S. will watch over the money to make sure it’s used appropriately, not everyone is buying that idea.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the money will be moved from South Korea to Qatar. From there, Iran will be allowed to access the funds to buy “food, medicine and other humanitarian items.”
Republicans like Senator John Thune from South Dakota are suspicious.
“Iran will now count pallets of ransom money, putting its leaders in a better position to develop a nuclear weapon and fund terrorists,” Thune says.
Even worse, say many Republican critics of the move, is that President Biden has established a clear precedent of paying cash for hostages.
“A Hostage TRADE?”
But National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson points out that these funds aren’t really a payment since it was Iran’s money to start with. The country is just getting back some limited access.
Watson also says that it was the Trump administration who let Iran make that money in the first place. Even though sanctions were in place, Trump allowed other countries to buy oil from Iran, with the money going into frozen accounts in South Korea.
For his part, Trump took to social media to trumpet his objection to the move. He also made a thinly veiled reference to past Democrat problems in the Middle East.
“So, lets get this straight! We did a hostage TRADE with Iran. We gave them 5 very tough, smart people that they desperately wanted,” Trump posted on Truth Social.
Though most stories center on “captives” or “prisoners,” Trump’s use of “hostage” seems to be a callout to the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis.
History Repeating Itself?
Many political pundits agree that the situation pretty much put the nail in Jimmy Carter’s re-election hopes.
As for the current deal, Republicans aren’t the only ones who think there may be some troubles ahead.
Democrat Senator Joe Munchin from West Virginia says there are no guarantees Iran will use the funds for humanitarian purposes.
And Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi was even more direct in answering such concerns during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt.
“This money belongs to the Iranian people, the Iranian government, so the Islamic Republic of Iran will decide what to do with this money,” Raisi said.
That may not be exactly the sort of post-negotiation victory speech Biden was hoping to hear from his trade partner.
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