What is President Obama’s strategy on dealing with the expected increase of Iran’s financing of terror following the nuclear deal?
The Hague, 8 December 2015 – The campaign group Naame Shaam (1) yesterday published the first of two new open letters to the US President Barak Obama in the Washington Post newspaper.
The letter focuses on the Iranian regime’s financing of terrorist activities and groups across the Middle East since the early 1980s. It urges President Obama to tackle the expected increase in what the group describes as Iran’s ‘financing of terror’ after economic sanctions on Iran are lifted in 2016 as part of the nuclear deal sign in July 2015.
The headline reads: “Iran will continue funding terror, Mr. President.”
The open letter continues: “As a result of the nuclear deal signed with Iran last July, the Iranian regime will have access to US$ 100-150 billion in 2016, in addition to new revenue from oil export. Some of this cash will be pumped into the country’s ailing economy. But a lot of the fresh dollars will certainly be used to finance the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities and destabilising policies in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East.”
“In a new report under the title ‘Financing Terror’, we calculated that, since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, Iran has been propping up the killing machine of the Assad regime with US$ 3 billion to US$ 5 billion annually. This ‘aid’ has contributed to the death of over 300,000 people, the displacement of more than seven million inside Syria and about four million to other countries.”(2)
“Additionally, Iran has been providing Hezbollah Lebanon with US$ 100 million to US$ 200 million per year since the 1980s, not accounting for special payments or arms deliveries. Shia militias in Iraq received US$ 10 million to US$ 35 million annually from the mid to the late 2000s. This increased to an estimated US$ 100 million to US$ 200 million yearly as of 2009.”
“Iran also provided the Palestinian Hamas with US$ 100 million to US$ 250 million between 2007 and 2011. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad received US$ 100 million to US$ 150 million annually since 2007. The Houthi militias in Yemen received US$ 10 million to US$ 25 million since 2010.”
“Our findings suggest that Iran’s lavish expenditure on financing terror in the Middle East within the considered periods of time totalled between US$ 20 and US$ 80 billion. We believe this policy will continue in 2016. This cannot be in the interest of the US and its allies.”
The letter then asks President Obama to:
- “Treat the war in Syria as an international armed conflict that involves a foreign occupation by Iran and Russia on the one hand, and a liberation struggle by the Syrian people against this occupation on the other.
- Support referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court to investigate all war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.
- Pressure Russia with more economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation so that it disengages from Iran and becomes part of the solution in Syria.
- Fulfill your promises by arming and training enough moderate Syrian rebels, not only to fight Daesh and al-Qaeda-linked groups, but also Syrian and Iranian regime forces and militias.
- Impose no-fly zones to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access throughout Syria, in line with the international ‘responsibility to protect’ norm.
- Help Syrians set up a democratic state where the rule of law prevails, and where there is no place for al-Assad and his supporters.”
The letter ends with the message: “Mr. President, only the US can save Syria and the Middle East from disintegration.”
The open letter was accompanied by a photomontage of a Syrian bank note, which Naame Shaam had produced to visualize the Iranian occupation of Syria, carrying the counterfeit of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, the de facto ruler of Syria.(3)
Notes for editors:
In May and June 2015, Naame Shaam published four open letters to President
Obama in the Washington Post:
- The first letter, 5 May 2015
- The second letter, 19 May 2015
- The third letter, 23 June 2015
- The fourth letter, 30 June 2015
1. Naame Shaam is a group of Iranian, Syrian and Lebanese activists and citizen-journalists that focuses on uncovering the role of the Iranian regime in Syria. Naame Shaam (نامه شام) means “Letter from Syria” in Persian. For more details about the group and its activities, see www.naameshaam.org.
Naame Shaam is supported by the Netherlands-based Rule of Law Foundation, www.lawrules.org.
2. The open letter to President Obama is based on a new Naame Shaam report titled “Financing Terror – The Economic Impact of Iran’s Nuclear Programme and its Support to Paramilitary Groups across the Middle East”, which was released in Washington DC on 7 December 2015.
Naame Shaam has published two other in-depth reports on the Iranian regime’s role in Syria:
- “Silent Sectarian Cleansing: Iranian Role in Mass Demolitions and Population Transfers in Syria” (May 2015)
- “Iran in Syria: From an Ally of the Regime to an Occupying Force” (November 2014).
3. See here.