While the biggest concern to most of us in regards to the Iran nuclear talks remains Obama’s aiding Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons, one of the most important items from Iran’s standpoint was the removal of economic sanctions. Not only were these sanctions hurting Iran’s economy and people — the mullahs could give a fat rat’s patootie about that — and it was hurting members of the Iranian ruling clique.
Among the big winners in the agreement to curtail Iran’s nuclear program, count a notorious and shadowy Iranian general who helped Shiite militias in Iraq kill American soldiers and who has come to the rescue of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
You’ll find his name, Qasem Soleimani, buried in an annex (PDF) of the unremittingly dense Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, along with some of his colleagues from the senior ranks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as its various divisions and corporate fronts. They’ll all be granted some sanctions relief as part of the U.S.-brokered deal to curtail Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
That Soleimani—who runs Iran’s elite paramilitary and covert operations group, the Quds Force—was even on the list appeared to catch some U.S. officials by surprise. A senior administration official briefing reporters on Tuesday morning didn’t have a ready response when asked when and why Soleimani was added. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly denied that the 58-year-old general was on the list to be freed from the sanctions yoke. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, agreed, saying Soleimani—whom the U.S. accused in 2011 of plotting to launch a terrorist attack in the United States—had been confused with someone else with a similar name.
They were all wrong—or maybe didn’t want to be right. Soleimani is, in fact, on the list, a Treasury Department official later confirmed to The Daily Beast. And his presence definitely surprised some powerful lawmakers, who are already sharpening their knives for a filleting of the Iran deal.
“He’s got American blood on his hands,” [mc_name name=’Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001056′ ] said of Soleimani. “I’m not sympathetic to lifting sanctions on him, that’s for sure.”
“Soleimani is the guy that sent the copper-tipped IEDs into Iraq,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ], referring to powerful improvised explosive devices, which Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford testified last week were responsible for the deaths of 500 soldiers and Marines. “That is really unbelievable,” McCain said when asked about Soleimani’s name showing up in the bowels of the Iran nuclear deal.
That 2011 terrorism plot mentioned was one hardly a minor one:
The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of five individuals, including four senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) officers connected to a plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubeir, while he was in the United States and to carry out follow-on attacks against other countries’ interests inside the United States and in another country. As part of today’s action, Treasury also designated the individual responsible for arranging the assassination plot on behalf of the IRGC-QF.
This is reprehensible but in the context of an utterly reprehensible and dishonorable agreement it is to be expected. It is also illustrative of the way these negotiations have been handled that key senators find out about Obama rewarding a man who can only be called a war criminal from a journalist.