The Biden administration and Qatar have agreed to freeze the infamous $6 billion given to Iran in a controversial prisoner swap. That comes after the White House spent days defending its decision, insisting that the money was not fungible and could not be used to fund terrorism.
Apparently, the avalanche of criticism won the day given this sudden reversal. CBS News and The Washington Post have confirmed the story.
CBS News has learned that the US reached a “quiet understanding” with Qatar not to release any of the $6b in Iranian oil money that was transferred as part of a U.S.-Iranian prisoner swap. This news comes as the US and Israel scrutinize Iran’s role in funding and training Hamas.— Nancy Cordes (@nancycordes) October 12, 2023
This will be welcome news to the many people who pointed out Iran’s long history of supporting terrorism and that even an indirect infusion of cash would allow them to spend their own reserves on that quest. There is every reason to believe Hamas did not have the financing to pull off its recent invasion of Israel by itself. Iran has expressed support for the massacres that occurred, though it has denied direct involvement.
That brings us to the major question raised by this news. Would the administration have backtracked if it didn’t have direct intelligence that Iran did help plan and finance the Hamas attacks? I’m skeptical given how dutifully they defended the release of the $6 billion until now. It seems possible, perhaps even probable, that something has changed behind the scenes.
Qatar’s involvement is even more telling. While ostensibly an ally (or at least a friendly nation), Qatar has protected Hamas and worked with Iran to undermine U.S. interests for decades. If the Qataris agreed to help freeze this money, there is likely something more going on than just a sudden change of heart.
Regardless, every cent that is kept away from Iran and its “supreme leader” is one less cent spent on terrorism against Israel and the rest of the world. For that, the administration deserves some modicum of credit, though they never should have released the money to begin with. We’ll have to see how this is spun at the next White House press conference.