While Iran has categorically denied any involvement whatsoever in Hamas attacks on Israel early this week, the US announced Thursday that it intends to refreeze Iran’s $6 billion fund it gained access to as part of Tehran-Washington prisoner swap last month.
This Thursday morning, the Biden administration issued a statement announcing that the governments of the United States and Qatar “have agreed to block Iran from accessing any of the $6 billion,” the money which Iran gained access to last month as part of the controversial prisoner swap deal between Washington and Tehran.
The Biden administration was under huge criticism for its decision to show green light to the release of Iran’s own money, with many Republicans accusing Iran of using the money for destabilizing the region. “Iran’s leaders will take the money and run. What on earth did Joe Biden think would happen?” said the Republican senator Tom Cotton on Twitter last month,
Likewise, former US president Donald Trump issued a characteristically scathing denunciation statement a few hours after the conclusion of the deal on his Truth Social website. “This absolutely ridiculous 6 Billion Dollar Hostage Deal with Iran has set a terrible PRECEDENT for the future,” he wrote, adding also that “buckle [sic] up, you are going to see some terrible things start to happen. The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. VOTE TRUMP!!!”
This is while the White House had noted before and after the prisoner swap deal that Iran would use the money freed up by the agreement only for limited purchase of essential goods such as medicine. “The money will only be available for humanitarian transactions, such as purchasing medicine.” The White House said in a statement back then.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, also addressed the issue this Tuesday and said that none of the $6 billion in unfrozen Iranian oil revenue has been spent yet, while he declined to say whether the administration would seek to refreeze it. Jon Finer, the deputy national security adviser also said on twitter that if necessary, “we have options available to us if it is not spent for the purpose to which it is restricted.”
The money was transferred last month from a South Korean bank to a bank in Qatar to finally be used by Tehran. It’s unclear how halting Iran’s access to the $6 billion may affect the administration’s efforts to negotiate future deals for the release of other detained Americans in Iran or even a new nuclear deal with Tehran.
Washington is blind to Israel’s non-stop airstrikes
While both the Biden administration and Congress strongly rebuked Hamas for Saturday’s attack on Israel and explicitly asserted their support for Tel Aviv in the war, they seem to be blind to the non-stop and deadly airstrike by Israel in Gaza.
To read between the lines, casualties in Gaza from Israel’s airstrikes since Saturday have so far reached 1,417 killed, including 447 children and 248 women.
According to the Palestinian Health Ministry which released the latest figures this Thursday, the number of causalities in Gaza is rapidly approaching the more than 2,000 killed in the 2014 war even before the start of the ground invasion by Israeli forces.
This huge number of killed Palestinians, however, seems to be only the tip of the iceberg as Israel appears to plan for even more attacks on Gaza in the coming days.