At the time of the Iran Deal’s finalization, there were four Americans held prisoner in Iran: Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Jason Rezaian, and Robert Levinson. They are still there now, unless they’ve secretly died in captivity or been executed. As my RedState colleague Matthew Clark noted, the failure of the Obama administration to secure their immediate release as a precondition for any deal with the Islamic Republic is an outrageous yet all-too-expected display of moral cowardice. Now, we can add a fifth person to that group: Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, who is President of the Crescent Petroleum Company.
As the Washington Free Beacon reports, Namazi was detained a couple of weeks ago while visiting family there. Details are unclear at the moment, but the information we have suggests that he was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence division. It appears that he is being held at the infamous Evin Prison, known for its political prisoner ward and reports of torture and human rights abuses.
What’s most interesting about this story is the fact that Namazi views seem rather friendly to Iran. From the WFB’s article:
Namazi reportedly played a role in the early development of the National Iranian American Committee (NIAC). The U.S.-based organization worked closely with the White House to advocate for the nuclear deal, and has also been accused of lobbying for the interests of a segment of the Iranian regime.
Namazi, whose family has business interests in Iran, has been a vocal advocate for the removal of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic. His family is reportedly well connected in Iran, with close links to a political circle that includes current President Hassan Rouhani and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
A Daily Beast profile of the Namazi family from September, fittingly titled The Shady Family Behind America’s Iran Lobby, notes that Siamak worked for Irans Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning between 1994 and 1996. Furthermore, the NIAC group that he apparently played a role in developing has been a vocal supporter of the Iran Deal. Needless to say, Siamak Namazi and his family have some pretty questionable connections, but what’s important to note here is that Iran has apparently imprisoned someone who is advocating for its interests in the United States.
Namazi is the first American citizen*arrested in Iran since the sham nuclear deal was finalized. As this whole affair shows, the supposed detente with Iran this deal was supposed to usher in has not stopped the country from arresting our people for spurious, if any, reasons. This is how serious Iran is about respecting the deal and our country.
If Obama and Kerry had any moral courage, they’d immediately suspend the implementation of the deal until Namazi and the rest of our citizens held prisoners in the Islamic Republic are released. As we’ve noted here at RedState, this should have been done at start, but if Iran is not going to take the deal seriously enough to stop arresting our citizens, including one advocating for the country’s interests here in the United States, then there’s no reason for them to act in good faith to implement the provisions of the deal.**
Even Congress can still act. Despite squandering its chance to reject the deal thanks to [mc_name name=’Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001071′ ], the Senate Republican Leadership, and most of the Senate’s Democrats, Congress can still use its power of the purse to withhold funding from the deal’s implementation. This arrest is a prime opportunity to do so.
Iran is going to move forward with developing nuclear weapons with or without the deal, so our government should use this opportunity as a chance to make them prove to the world just how much they intend on following this deal. Our citizens must be freed, and this might be the only bargaining chip we have left on the table.
*=He is actually a dual-Iranian and American citizen.
**=As we should know by now, there’s no reason to expect Iran to act in good faith on the deal anyways, but an incident like this ought to show any honest advocates for the deal that Iran is still more than willing to shove a middle finger in the face of the Great Satan.