Biden’s ‘confidence-building’ for Iran is a huge strategic mistake

In early 2021, the Biden administration implemented the so-called “slices of salami” method, that is, to unleash seemingly unrelated cash flows and allow the money to reach the regime coffers in Tehran, Iran.

The process is sophisticated and avoids an official lifting of sanctions.

Seen as “confidence-building measures”, this decision aims to “encourage” the Iranians (their government) to act more fairly in the negotiations (concerning the Iranian nuclear agreement) and to reach a positive conclusion more quickly. .

Those anticipating a return to the accord, on all sides, reached agreement that the United States would loosen the floodgates in a number of ways, to allow the regime to gradually move toward a resolution.

One of the main ways the bureaucracy applied the “slices of salami” tactic was to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Iran in many forms. to fight against COVID19, to secure basic medical equipment or to provide necessary supplies to the country’s population.

While the American goal was noble, the regime was able to use the financial aid to replace its own funding of these bonds, and then use the replaced funds to fund militias throughout the region.

This means that what was sent to Iran to meet humanitarian needs was actually released as funds to support nefarious activities.

Support for the Iranian regime via “humanitarian and medical aid” has not been limited to US institutions alone, but has also been requested from allied nations around the world who, in turn, too provided Tehran with “logistical assistance”.

Under the coordination of the United States, the Islamic Republic has won support from the European Union (EU), Asia and other allied countries.

For about a year and a half, the Biden administration has staged a large wave of small pushes, almost invisible to the public, from both the United States and its allies, to come to the aid of Iran.

Each step was too small to notice and too “humanitarian” in nature to trigger outrage.

But added together, they made up a big package of direct help supposedly intended for the suffering population of Iran.

However, it was coordinated with the regime and therefore had to go through state institutions—or be supervised by them. Thus, in addition to relieving the powers that be of these obligations, allowing the regime to direct initial resources towards strategic military and security objectives, another negative (but expected) phenomenon has occurred.

The regime had the upper hand in selecting aid recipients and was therefore (and is) able to direct aid to its own supporters and the Revolutionary Guard base first.

Such a strategy has already been implemented by pro-Iranian militias in the region, as seen in Lebanon with Hezbollah’s “NGOs” (non-governmental organizations) with the Houthis in Yemen, and through other armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

The regime’s machine is responsible for irrigating the beneficiaries of these derogations from the sanctions. The limited under-the-radar socio-economic aid to Iran was an appetizer to the return of full US financial support, theoretically after Tehran returned to the new arrangements.

In reality, however, domestic aid has enabled the regime to continue to act belligerently at the regional level.

Another valve was opened allowing cash deposited in several third countries to end up in Tehran.

This money, frozen under the sanctions of the United States and its allies, was to be released only after the conclusion of a complete agreement. And a comprehensive agreement should have guaranteed the security of the region and of the United States, including banning ballistic missiles, disbanding militias and ending population suppression, in addition, of course, to end uranium enrichment.

But the money was transferred to Iranian leaders before they changed their behavior.

Quickly and stealthily, hundreds of millions of dollars were released from several countries, including South Korea, Oman and other places, to be absorbed by Iranian regime-controlled banks.

This means that, for two years, a “sub-Iranian agreement”, an undeclared clandestine agreement was in force by which large transfers took place.

Again, the reasoning in DC and Brussels was that once the decision to engage in the Vienna talks was made, these moves were part of the dance of the negotiations and therefore legitimate.

But such an argument only holds when the party in question (Iran) has made the decision to change its policy, as when Ukraine and South Africa decided to give up their nuclear programs in the early 1990s. , or when Gaddafi dropped his weapons of mass destruction (WMD) after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Iran, despite the $150 billion donation from the JCPOA (in 2015) and despite US pressure, has not only maintained but expanded its strategic programs, expanded its militias, and increased its military alliances around the world.

Thus, offering financial aperitifs to the regime before it changes course only encourages the ayatollahs to resist international pressure and amplify their regional ambitions.

And that is why, when the war in Ukraine broke out in February, Tehran sided with Russia, China and eventually North Korea.

And as he continues to support militias in the region, fire missiles and resist Western pressure, the ‘aperitifs’ he has received over the past 18 months have acted as incitement to increase rogue behavior. . It is time for Washington to step back.

Dr. Walid Phares is a Foreign Policy Analyst at Newsmax – as of April 2022. Since 2009 he has been Co-Secretary of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group. He was also foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump in 2016 and national security adviser (in 2011) to the current senator. Mitt Romney, R-Arizona. Dr. Phares is a renowned author, professor and expert on the Middle East, as well as a former contributor to Fox News and MSNBC. Read the reports of Dr. Walid Phares More here.

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