President Donald Trump claimed that $1 billion in cash given to Iran by Barack Obama was used to fund terrorism and corruption. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the president wrote "all of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their 'pockets,"' in a reference to the deal Obama worked out with Iran to temporarily shut down the Islamic republic's uranium weaponization program in exchange for loosening up decades-long U.S. sanctions. Trump has long opposed the deal. In his Twitter message, he wrote, "The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime," the tweet also said. "The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The US is watching!"

Thousands of protesters have hit the streets in Iran over the last five days, demanding redress to charges of corruption in the theocratic regime and an end to economic austerity. At least 13 people were killed in weekend clashes, while Iran's security apparatus has vowed to take back control.

Earlier this week, Israeli Deputy Minister Michael Oren accused Barack Obama of choosing to ignore the abortive 2009 Green protest movement in Iran in order to conclude a deal with the Islamic republic on its nuclear weaponization program that he signed in 2015. Obama’s failure to support the protesters was criticized by Republicans in the U.S., as well as the Israeli government. At the time, Natan Sharansky -- a former Soviet dissident who now lives in Israel -- called it the biggest failure in modern history to support human rights.

Oren was ambassador to the U.S. during the Obama administration. He said that Obama claimed that because the CIA toppled Iran’s prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953, Obama would not come down on the side of the protesters of 2009 so as to show the Iranian people that he respected their sovereignty. Oren said the Obama administration told their Israeli counterparts that the protesters themselves did not want an American endorsement out of fear that it mean losing credibility among other Iranians. 

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Oren said “In retrospect, those explanations are less credible.” Oren added, “The Obama administration’s lack of support for the Green Revolution was part of a pattern in which it did not hold Iran accountable for any provocation. It would seem it was part of a general approach that began in Obama’s first week in office in 2009 of wanting to reach a deal with Iran at pretty much any cost.”

During the Obama administration, Oren said that Obama ignored numerous provocations by the Iranian government. Among them were the deadly crackdowns on protests, abductions of American citizens, the capture of American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf, and support for Hezbollah terrorists importing cocaine into the United States. Among Obama’s other failures, Oren said, were a failure to follow through on his own supposed “red line” in Syria and a failure to respond to an assassination attempt by Iran on Oren and his Saudi counterpart. 

Oren said that Obama believed that Iran held the key to resolving conflicts in the Middle East, as compared to President Donald Trump, who Oren said has shown that Iran is the problem. Trump did not need prompting from Israel, Oren claimed, to see that Obama’s deal with Iran was a bad one. “If the Iranian regime brutally cracks down on its own people peacefully demonstrating, imagine what that regime would do to nations it vows to obliterate,” Oren tweeted. “Under the nuclear deal, the regime could someday produce nuclear weapons. Nix or fix it now.”

What Obama knew

For his part, famed legal expert Alan Dershowitz believes Obama's Iran strategy served to embolden the Islamist regime, which is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. Speaking on Monday on "Fox & Friends," Dershowitz said Obama gave away too much to Iran and gained too little. Dershowitz referred to Obama’s controversial 2015 deal to release in excess of $100 billion in Iranian assets and give away $1 billion in cash in exchange for a promise by Iran to desist in its pursuit of nuclear weapons for ten years. "President Obama made it clear that he was going to stand behind the Iranian regime," Dershowitz said. "He was going to send them lots and lots of money. Of course some of it was their own money, but still they used it to foment terrorism, to export terrorism around the world."

Reports that the Obama administration blocked federal investigators targeting Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering, Dershowitz said, showed the the Obama administration feared jeopardizing the nuclear agreement. "We've learned from North Korea is how difficult it is to negotiate once a country has nuclear power. And if Iran develops nuclear power with its hegemonic interests in the whole Middle East - they want to control all of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon through Hezbollah - and if we let them do that, they will become the most dangerous country in the world, not only to American allies like Israel, but to the United States itself," Dershowitz said.
 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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