But opponents note that Iran’s prior commitment to funding terrorism and its own repressive security forces during the period of sanctions suggests that the same priorities will guide its spending now that sanctions are set to be lifted. This concern seems to have guided the decision-making of the last Senate Republican to announce his intention to vote against the deal next month. Arizona’s Jeff Flake added that he believed the deal would degrade Congress’ ability to impose and enforce sanctions related not only to its nuclear program but also to its regional activities and human rights abuses.
Much recent attention has been given to the fact that the agreement provides for the lifting of sanctions on dozens of individuals and entities associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or otherwise linked to the non-nuclear activities that brought the Iranian regime to the attention of sanctioning bodies in the first place.
On Tuesday, the Weekly Standard reiterated this point, but also emphasized that such provisions are not necessary for the deal to result in the empowerment of Iran’s hardline factions or its most belligerent entities. That is, the power that the IRGC holds over the Iranian economy makes for a situations wherein any unmanaged growth of that economy will result in greater wealth for the paramilitary organization that is responsible both for foreign interventions and much of the domestic enforcement of Iran’s restrictions on political, cultural, and religious activities.
The Weekly Standard especially points to the role of Khatam al-Anbia, an IRGC-owned construction company that has reportedly been referred to as the “undisputed king” of Iran’s private sector. Because of this ownership, it will remain technically sanctioned even after implementation of the deal that strips away Iran’s nuclear-related sanctions. But the influx of new business will certainly give the firm much new local business, especially in light of the demonstrated eagerness of some European countries to exploit the opening of the Iranian economy.
At the same time that some foreign investors are beating down the doors of the Islamic Republic to gain access to new business, various other entities are knocking at those same doors in pursuit of increased financial support. This broadens the expected adverse effects of the nuclear agreement, so as to include the financing of illegal and destabilizing groups beyond Iran’s borders.
As a case in point, Arutz Sheva reported on Tuesday that terrorists from Palestine’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade appeared on Iranian television to discuss their prospects for large scale terrorist attacks against Israel and to ask Tehran for money to finance these efforts. The article also notes that the brigade’s parent organization, Fatah, fired missiles at Israel during last year’s summer war in the Gaza Strip. During that conflict it was revealed that Iran’s partnership with Hamas permitted the latter Palestinian terrorist group to improve the range of its missiles by more than a third.
Iran’s support for both of these groups and the anticipated expansion of this support after implementation of the nuclear deal give support to recurrent statements by Israeli officials and their supporters who expect that the deal will worsen the Jewish state’s security situation. On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the northern command center for the Israeli Defense Force. According to the Times of Israel he used the occasion to again emphasize that Iran has been supporting all major anti-Israeli terrorist groups and that more money will flow into these hands once the agreement is implemented.
“Representatives of the Revolutionary Guards are in fact waiting for the implementation of this bad deal with world powers, in order to bring more money to Hezbollah, more to other terror groups – in both the Golan Heights and the Palestinian arena,” Netanyahu said.
On the previous day, a senior IDF commander declared that Iran had been behind every attack launched on Israel from the Golan Heights over roughly the past two years. Most of these attacks were carried out through Hezbollah, which has established a permanent presence in the Golan area in the midst of the Syrian Civil War.
This speaks to the wider operations of Iran’s proxies, the IRGC, and the Quds Force, or foreign wing of the IRGC. Cooperation among these Iranian entities and proxies contributes to Tehran’s surreptitious management of conflicts against ISIL as well as moderate rebel groups in Iraq and Syria.
On Tuesday, an editorial on the personal website of US military veteran and Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research Allen West pointed out that three Kuwaiti members of a terrorist group were arrested when the cell was broken up by police, who seized a large stockpile of weapons, ammunition, and explosives. All three Kuwaitis have been found to have ties to the IRGC or Hezbollah, and the weapons were evidently part of a smuggling operation originating in Iran.
West uses this news to make the case that war is already the status quo in the Middle East where Iran’s influence is concerned. He adds that this situation undermines President Obama’s argument in favor of the nuclear agreement as an alternative to war. “This may not be a grand-scale combat engagement with massive tank formations, but where there’s violent conflict between ideologies, there is war,” West writes.
What’s more, the prospect of grand-scale combat may not have been eliminated by the nuclear agreement, either. A report published by the New York Times on Tuesday discussed an incident in which an Iranian warship in the Arabian Sea tracked a nearby US helicopter with a heavy machine gun. The report also notes that Iran actually dispatched more warships and jets to the area after the signing of the deal, potentially exacerbating tensions even as they were relaxing in diplomatic circles.
What’s more, an Iranian film crew recorded the navy’s confrontation with the US helicopter, as well as other incidents, signifying the continuing interest that the Iranian regime has in playing up military tensions between the two countries for the sake of its propaganda. If this pattern continues, it is very likely that it will also influence Iran’s continued interactions with anti-Western terrorist organizations.