National Security Desk / August 23, 2016

Iran Erased Obama’s Syrian ‘Red Line’

Pacifying the mullahs at the drop of a hat.

The Obama administration’s $400 million ransom payment to Iran represented a shrewd and illegal conciliatory act, but it also adds to what has become standard policy — undermining national security to pacify the mullahs. We now have a clue as to why Obama refused to intervene in Syria despite pleading in 2012, “We have been very clear to the Assad regime … that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

The revelation comes courtesy of The Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon, who explained, “When the president announced his plans to attack and then pull back, it was exactly the period in time where American negotiators were meeting with Iranian negotiators secretly in Oman to get the nuclear agreement. U.S. and Iranian officials have both told me that they were basically communicating that if the U.S. starts hitting President Assad’s forces, Iran’s closest Arab ally … these talks cannot conclude.” Put another way: Iran was ready to nuke Obama's proposed Iran deal if America meddled too heavily in Syria. Obama’s highest priority three years ago is both obvious and disconcerting — the nuclear deal trumped all else.

Meanwhile, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest insisted this week, “The notion of a ransom I think is often perceived as paying money in exchange of the release of unjustly detained individuals. That’s not what occurred here.” But as Rich Lowry has written, “The Wall Street Journal noted that senior Justice Department officials objected to flying the cash to Tehran on grounds, in the words of one source, that ‘the Iranians probably did consider it a ransom payment.’” (To cover the tab for $1.3 billion in “interest” on the $400 million, Obama also made 13 payments of $99,999,999.99, all made on the same day — two days after the $400 million in cash.)

The same day Earnest said ransom is “not what occurred here,” State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security released a dispatch that “warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Iran.” It states, "Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly Iranian-Americans, including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics, on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security.“ And why not? The American taxpayers’ pocketbook has been pulled wide open.

(Updated.)

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