Our Common Enemy
It should be universally understood that the foreign enemy that poses the greatest direct threat to the safety of the US public at this time is the entity known as Deash, sometimes called ISIL, or ISIS. This organization has openly stated that its intention is to kill Americans. Recently in Orlando, an individual who swore allegiance to ISIL opened fire in a nightclub and killed scores of innocent people. In European cities like Belgium, Nice, and Paris, hundreds innocent people have been slaughtered by this bloodthirsty organization of Wahhabi fanatics.
While Americans can sleep peacefully, knowing that the headquarters of ISIL are on the other side of the planet, Iranians know that ISIL’s nest and international base of operations is not too far from their borders.
ISIL has declared that the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are “Shia apostates.” It openly seeks to conquer Iran, topple the Islamic Republic, and absorb all the millions of people within the Persian homeland into their Wahhabi caliphate. According to ISIL, almost everyone in Iran is a worthy recipient of the death penalty. Most Iranians are Shia Muslims, which ISIL calls “Shia Apostates” and routinely subjects to immediate execution upon capture. Iran is also home to thousands of Christians and Zoroastrians, other groups that freely practice their religion within Iran’s borders, but are routinely executed for their religious beliefs in territories controlled by ISIL.
The only group that would be spared immediate death if ISIL were to find its way into Iran would be the small Sunni minority, most of whom are of either Kurdish or Afghan heritage. Even these Sunnis within Iran would not necessarily be spared death, as they would be forced to immediately adopt the extremist Wahhabi interpretation of their faith and swear allegiance to ISIL, or else be executed as well.
It should be no surprise that every day Iranian Revolutionary Guards are on the battlefields of Syria, fighting alongside the government against a group of people Secretary of State John Kerry has called “genocidal.” The Islamic Republic of Iran has been the most steadfast ally of Syria, standing with the recognized government alongside Russia, Venezuela, and other countries who have been working to stop the wave of terrorism afflicting Syria since the dawn of the civil war five years ago.
No Scandal To Be Found
So, the question must be asked—Why is it scandalous that at the close of the P5+1 nuclear negotiations between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran, this country was paid $400 million in cash, just some of the money that was agreed to at the negotiating table?
It should be pointed out that this money is not being coughed up from the US Treasury. This is money from Iranian bank accounts that were frozen in 1979, when the Iranian people rose up and toppled a brutal dictator. In response to the revolution, which ended diplomatic relations with the United States, our government froze all of Iran’s assets within US banks.
This money that was paid to Iran is just a portion of Iran’s money, which is finally being returned to them, almost four decades after their popular revolution against an absolutist monarch.
Right-wing commentators in the United States now pose the question: Will this money be used for terrorism?
The international activities being conducted by the Islamic Republic of Iran across the region simply cannot be described as terrorism. The absolute focus of Iran’s international efforts at this moment is to defend itself from a deadly onslaught of ISIL terrorism. Iran is working to aid the people of both Iraq and Syria as they battle against ISIL, right outside their borders.
“But what about Hezbollah?” the Pro-Israeli the commentators thunder in response. “Iran could use this money to fund terrorism in Lebanon!” This reaction is yet another display of ignorance regarding the situation presently facing the world.
Hezbollah is not engaged in kidnappings or bombings. Right now, the focus of Hezbollah is to defeat ISIL. Hassan Nasrallah has said that even if he must go to Syria himself, the militant Shia organization will ensure that hateful, intolerant Takfiri violence does not continue to spread. Hezbollah’s mosques in Lebanon have already been targeted by ISIL bombers, who have no qualms about killing people as they pray.
Each day Hezbollah’s fighters, alongside Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, are risking their lives on the battlefield to defeat ISIL, ensuring that Syria remains a country where Christians, Sunnis, Alawites, Shia, and Druze are free to practice their faith simultaneously. Hezbollah fighters remain on the battlefield despite Israeli airstrikes targeting them in Syria as they work to stabilize the country and defeat ISIL.
The fact that Iran was paid $400 million of its own long-withheld funds should not be scandalous in the least. Those who welcome the defeat of ISIL should hope that Iran will spend this money on AK-47 rifles, tanks, drones, and other mechanisms with which to eradicate ISIL’s home base.
The defeat of ISIL, which Iran is each and every day making huge sacrifices to achieve, would mean an end to the kinds of terrorist attacks perpetrated in Brussels, Paris, Nice, and Orlando. It would mean that millions of Syrian refugees could return home. It would mean a new level of stability not only in the Middle East but around the world.
This is something that is very much in the interest of both Americans and Iranians. Four-hundred million dollars is a very small price to pay. The delivery of such an amount to ISIL’s greatest foes should be celebrated, not scandalized, by opponents of international terrorism.
Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.