Journalists today pressed the Obama administration on accusations that the administration had downplayed the extent of capital that the Islamic Republic would receive in the wake of the nuclear deal reached in July. Iran claimed on Monday that it now has access to more than $100 billion of previously frozen assets, which is twice what the administration has publicly estimated. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby continued to argue Tuesday that the true amount of money available to Iran in the wake of the nuclear deal is approximately $50 billion, with the other half tied up in debt obligations. Veteran Associated Press journalist Matthew Lee was skeptical of this line of reasoning, stating, “I don't understand why you can say that they're only going to get $50 billion when they get the benefit of the full $100 billion, even if it is [used for] paying down debt.” Lee later said that it can be argued that the administration is being disingenuous “by saying that Iran isn't going to get the benefit of this full $100 billion, because it is.” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew argued shortly after the signing of the Iran deal in July that, although $115 billion would be “theoretically available” to Iran, in reality, after Iran had paid off contractual obligations and non-performing loans, Iran would be looking at $56 billion in unfrozen assets.The sanctions relief windfall to which Iran now has access is likely to burgeon hardliners within the regime.
Reuters reported in mid-January that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Praetorian Guard of the Iranian Revolution, is “destined to become still richer now [that sanctions have] been lifted.” Iran seeks to destabilize the region and expand its influence at the same time, as it has done in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen. Parisa Hafezi of Reuters continued, “Tehran is not about to end these activities just because its relations with the West have thawed with the nuclear deal. On the contrary, it hopes the economy, freed from the sanctions, will create new wealth that can be used for these ends.” Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Associate Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said in July that the sanctions lifting means more funds for the IRGC, “which instantly will be used to fund terrorism around the world, opposing the U.S. and its allies, and oppressing the Iranian people."
Iran will be able to use this windfall to, among other things, finance Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria. Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah said last April, “A rich and strong Iran will be able to stand by its allies and friends and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.” The UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, told Bloomberg View that Iran spends $6 billion a year to prop up the Assad regime, which is responsible for the systematic starvation, bombardment, and gassing of its own civilians.
Thousands of mourners marching at the funeral of a Palestinian Authority police officer who wounded three IDF soldiers during a shooting attack on Sunday chanted “death to Israel” and called for killing hundreds of Israelis, the Times of Israel reported on Monday.
“It is time for the machine gun, to shoot 500 people,” a man leading Amjad Sukkari’s funeral procession shouted into a megaphone. “Muhammad’s army will return,” he declared. His words were loudly repeated by the mourners.Many in the crowd, which gathered to celebrate Sukkari in the West Bank city of Nablus, chanted for more terrorist attacks against Jews and Israelis.
Nablus governor Akram Rajoub and several other senior officials from Fatah, the party led by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, were among the mourners.
“It doesn’t mean I agree with what he has done,” Rajoub said. “I’m against policemen carrying out attacks, but we are people who respect their martyrs and dead.”Following news of the attack, the PA’s police force released a statement eulogizing Sukkari’s “brave martyrdom.”
According to Israel’s Channel 2, the hashtag “operation V.I.P.” went viral on Palestinian social media following news of the shooting, with various photos and memes circulating on Facebook and Twitter.