Critics of the Iranian regime expect that a significant portion of that money will be channeled into Iran’s former illicit activities, including its support for global terrorism and its domestic human rights violations. The Obama administration and its supporters, on the other hand, have asserted that the government of President Hassan Rouhani can be expected to dedicate all or nearly all of the money to economic improvements.
A Fox News report on Friday suggested that regardless of what Iran’s own plans are, it appears as if many of the terrorist organizations it has dealt with in the past are expecting an influx of new capital in the wake of the nuclear deal.
Israeli analysts blame this for an apparent surge in attacks and plots by such groups against Israel. In fact, one organization, the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, appeared on Iranian state television on August 18 to show off a tunnel system that it had dug between Gaza and Israel to facilitate terrorist operations.
“This is why we are asking [for money],” the group’s representatives said, “especially [from] Iran, which is a known long-time supporter of the resistance and the Palestinian cause.” Indeed, Iranian officials have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israeli, and an advisor to the speaker of the Iranian parliament used the word “annihilate” in this context as recently as Wednesday.
It is reasonable for Iran’s terrorist affiliates, then, to assume that attacks or threats of attacks against the Jewish state would serve as a means of auditioning for increased Iranian funding in light of the recovery of lost assets and business prospects. And Fox News speculates that the current pace of attacks means that exactly these kinds of auditions are going on at the present moment.
If those auditions achieve their desired goal, opponents of the nuclear agreement can be expected to emphasize that Western investments in Iran have semi-directly contributed to the financing of global terrorism. Activists have already counselled various governments and business entities against rushing to invest in Iran, citing its destabilizing role in the region and its abysmal record on human rights.
Some American critics of the deal still hold out hope that by blocking its implementation and expanding unilateral US sanctions, they can undermine the effects of the apparent surge of foreign interest in Iranian markets. While this is disregarded by many as an overly optimistic assessment of American power, there is considerable evidence that expected intentions of the US government is a factor in the decision-making of major international business, as well as entire governments.
If the first place, it was reported earlier in the week that the oil company BP had declined to participate in a British trade delegation to Tehran, in large part because of fears that doing business with Iran could make it subject to renewed American sanctions enforcement at some point in the future.
And with regard to foreign government policymaking, the Turkish news site Today’s Zaman published an analysis on Friday of the complex and fluctuating state of relations between Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Iran. It pointed out that the Turkish Foreign Minister has been quoted as saying, “all of our decisions are joint decisions with the US.”
Thus, a policy of rapprochement and sanctions relief between the US and Iran has no doubt contributed to the expansion of Iran’s wealth acquisition through some non-Western sources, as well as to the reversal of formerly antagonistic policies, as in the case of Turkey. There, according to Today’s Zaman, the desire for Iranian oil exports have contributed to corruption on both sides, even at a time when the two governments were de facto enemies as a result of their support for opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War.
Thus US support for a policy of rapprochement may be contributing to both legal and illegal gains by the Islamic Republic. And if critics of Iran are correct, those gains will shortly be channeled into the hands of terrorist proxies and into financing of attacks on Israel, the main US ally in the Middle East.