Despite Iranian proxies attacking American troops in the Middle East, Joe Biden seems hellbent on easing sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Benny Avni reports in The New York Sun:
As American forces are attacked by the Islamic Republic’s proxies and in the aftermath of Hamas’s unprecedented horrors, the Biden administration is seeking to ease sanctions on Iran — a move that will mean more money for Hamas, though Congress is pushing back.
The administration on Tuesday issued a new 120-day sanction waiver, allowing Iraq to pay Iran $10 billion for electricity provided by Tehran. President Biden’s policies have added between $80 billion and $100 billion to Iran’s coffers through unfreezing of sanctioned funds, ransoming hostages, and failing to enforce the Iranian oil export embargo.
“It is simply insane that the Biden administration continues to allow tens of billions to flow to the Ayatollah, adding up so far to almost $100 billion in the last three years,” Senator Cruz tells the Sun. The Texas senator this week introduced the Hamas Sanctions Act, which would include freezing Iran’s overseas funds released by Mr. Biden.
The Department of State’s spokesman, Matt Miller, dismissed the latest waiver as mere routine, saying Tuesday that since 2018 “there are 20 waivers that have been issued for the payment from Iraq for Iranian electricity imports,” including by the Trump administration.
Yet, the latest waiver’s timing is far from routine. Just since mid-October, Iranian-financed militias have conducted at least 55 attacks on American troops in Iraq and Syria. Iran also finances the Hamas terror machine to the tune of $200 million a year.
“The Iranian regime is filled with theocratic lunatics who openly say they want to murder Americans and who funded and armed the Hamas terrorists who murdered thousands of Israelis and dozens of Americans on October 7,” Mr. Cruz says. “The Biden administration is explicitly enabling Hamas’s war on Israel and terrorism around the world.”
Administration officials disagree. The funds are held in accounts that “can only be used to pay for food, medicine, humanitarian purposes, and other non-sanctionable activities,” Mr. Miller said, insisting that the administration is holding Iran “accountable for its destabilizing behavior in a number of manners.”
Yet, because money is fungible, the waiver is freeing funds that previously have been sanctioned. “The entire premise of U.S. sanctions is to deny Iran access to money,” a former Trump administration official who’s now with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Richard Goldberg, tells the Sun. “Whether they sell oil, petrochemicals, metals or electricity — the whole point is to deny them payments so they have less money.”
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