Wednesday, July 22, 2015

US hostages in Iran, Obama and packing for Israel

In March 2015, US President Hussein Obama called for Iran to release three US citizens held hostage by Iranian officials (Emma Hinchliffe, “Obama calls for release of Americans held in Iran”, USAToday, March 20, 2015). One of the hostages has been held for three years. In addition, a fourth US citizen was (and is still) considered ‘missing’ in Iran. Obama also called on Iran to help find him.

That call for release occurred during nuclear talks with Iran. But the call wasn’t linked to the talks. It was simply a plea for mercy as a way for Iran to honor the Persian New Year celebration which was taking place at that time.

A couple of weeks later, however, after negotiations officials announced that the talks would continue after a March 30, 2015 deadline, US TV personality Montel Williams, who had been trying to secure the release of one of the hostages, severely criticized the Obama administration for contemplating signing a deal with Iran without bringing home these US citizens (“Fiery  Montel: How Dare We Make a Deal With Iran While Americans Are Still Held?!”, FoxNewsInsider, April 3, 2015). Williams said that Obama had just announced that his ‘deal’ with Iran had satisfied the United States' ‘core objectives’. But Williams’ reaction to that was, how could Obama do that while these Americans remained imprisoned? (ibid).

US Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, had declared that ‘conversations are continuing on the release of American prisoners’ (ibid). But, Williams added, based on his personal interactions with the US State department, he had ‘no idea what Kerry meant with that statement’ (ibid).

He said the State Department had told him he was ‘pompous’ for speaking out about this issue.

He seemed particularly upset that Kerry hadn’t even called the family of the hostage he (Williams) was concerned about to tell them what was happening. His comments suggested that he believed the State Department wasn’t doing anything for this hostage; he suggested Kerry lying.

Two months later, a couple of US Congressman announced that the White House should link the success of the Iran negotiations to the fate of the Americans who remained in Iran (Felicia Schwartz, “Lawmakers: Americans Held In Iran Complicate Nuclear Talks”, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2015). Their attitude was, there should be no agreement, period, until the hostages were released (ibid).

The State department said negotiators had raised this issue in every round of nuclear negotiations, but “those discussions aren’t working” (ibid). One inference from this assertion was, the US simply wasn’t persuasive enough to move the Iranians on this point. A second inference was, the US simply wasn’t interested in hostages while it focused on Iran’s nuclear program.

We learned more about the true US position on these captives after the July 14-15, 2015 agreement was completed. During a post-deal news conference, Obama was asked how he could celebrate the deal while abandoning hostages who were imprisoned and reportedly tortured  (Brian Hayes, “After Leaving American Hostages to Rot in Iran, Obama Just Did the UNTHINKABLE”, TopRightNews, July 18, 2015). Obama justified his neglect of the captive Americans by suggesting that the US had deliberately not tied the nuclear negotiations to the Americans’ release (ibid). The US didn’t do that because, he said, Iran would then have seen the hostages as a chance to get ‘additional concessions from the Americans’ (ibid).

That’s an interesting statement. It suggests that the US had no courage whatsoever in these negotiations. It was afraid of Iran.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. After abandoning the hostages, the US ‘did the unthinkable’ (ibid). Obama ordered the release of a top Iranian scientist who had been arrested in California (in 2011) for attempting to acquire equipment for Iran’s military nuclear program (ibid). The US explanation for this release was that a series of prisoner releases had been done through ‘secret back-channel’ talks that had begun long before. These talks had led to the current nuclear negotiations.

That suggested that prisoner/hostage releases were in fact connected to the nuclear talks.  Brian Hayes (above) wrote, “I thought Obama said any talk of releasing our hostages would kill the deal. But his ‘negotiators’” had instead arranged the release of their prisoners [emphasis his]” (ibid).

Hayes couldn’t believe this had happened. He felt Obama had betrayed America (ibid).  

Of course, the US suggested that these secret talks were about “a series of prisoner releases by both sides” (ibid). But no one has stepped forward to identify any Americans who had benefitted from this arrangement.

The only prisoners connected to these ‘back-channel’ talks to be released were Iranians held by the US.

A week after the ‘agreement’ was announced, Obama gave a speech at a Pittsburgh, Pa. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Convention (Andrew Husband, “Obama Demands Release of Detained Americans While Defending Iran Deal”, mediaite, July 21, 2015).  Obama said, “We are not going to relent until we bring home our American who are unjustly detained in Iran” (ibid).

Such post-deal determination rings hollow. During the talks, Obama had a bargaining position against Iran. Iran wanted a deal. It wanted its frozen 100+billion dollars.

But Obama hadn’t been relentless about the hostages. He’d caved in. Becoming relentless now seemed irrelevant.  

Hussein Obama fails to help America. He fails to help Americans. He helps Iran.

He’s the anti-Churchill. America—and these four Americans—will suffer.

If you’re thinking about making aliyah, do it now. America will betray your trust.
The time has come to pick up, pack up and leave.

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