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Americans to White House: Stop Hiding the Ball on Iran
Flag of China in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. (WIkimedia Commons)

Americans to White House: Stop Hiding the Ball on Iran

Here’s a question we have for the Biden administration: How do you think American voters would respond if they learn the Chinese Foreign Ministry is our primary mediator with Iran?

The truth is that Congress and the 331 million citizens it represents, would be clueless, had the Chinese Foreign Ministry not released its own readout of a call last month between US President Joe Biden’s Iran envoy, Robert Malley, and China’s vice foreign minister. That readout made a strong case that the Chinese is our intermediary with Iran.

These are the same Chinese communists who brazenly served as Iran’s primary helper in evading US sanctions after the first Iran deal was reached with President Barack Obama, and after President Donald Trump exited the deal.

In normal times, the mere rumor of such a Chinese triple play would have ignited a national debate with wall-to-wall coverage in the media.

But these are not normal times.

Worse, this wasn’t the first time Biden’s Iran negotiators have attempted to hide their lateral pass to China on Iran from Congress and the American people.

Only three weeks into the administration some members of Congress were shocked when they learned from a Chinese-language readout from Beijing about a call on February 15, 2021 between Biden’s Iran envoy and the same vice foreign minister in Beijing whom Malley spoke with again last month.

Why hasn’t the State Department issued the readouts of these calls itself?

It’s safe to assume it’s because the administration doesn’t want scrutiny from the public or from lawmakers.

In an eerie echo of the Afghanistan debacle, the administration simply wants Americans and Congress to comply with what Special Envoy Malley calls a “privileging path of diplomacy with Iran.”

Or, in plain English, the US has decided to hide the substance of its negotiations with Iran from its own people and its allies.

This scenario will not go down well with the American people who haven’t forgotten the pallets of cash delivered by the Obama administration to seal the first ill-fated deal. We have every right to ask how exactly has the Mullahcracy changed since then.

If anything, the regime has become more threatening. In the last few days alone, during the height of the Vienna nuclear talks, an Iranian newspaper ran a front-page map showing Israeli cities that will be targeted by Tehran in any future conflict.

Under the Constitution, the president of the United States determines US foreign policy.

The secretary of state, appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate, is the president’s chief foreign affairs adviser. That presupposes a degree of honesty and transparency – tempered by the advice and consent from the legislative branch – and always under the scrutiny of a curious public and press.

Instead, it appears that President Biden has empowered his unelected envoy, who could not be successfully confirmed by his own party in the Senate, to inflate China’s clout.

But that’s not all.

Malley has also been in the habit of stripping away sanctions, hidden from the prying eyes of Congress.

It happened only ten days before the recent round of negotiations in Vienna when the Biden administration chose to waive sanctions on Iran selling electricity to Iraq. Absurdly, the sanctions relief came only days after Iran’s proxies tried to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister!

If that wasn’t enough, Malley played a cute trick on Congress.

Instead of immediately fulfilling a legal requirement to notify Congress of any sanction relief, Malley’s team waited until the morning the Vienna talks began to tell them.

He did it because he knew, if he followed the spirit of the law, there would have been a bipartisan uproar in Congress.

Well, Malley got the trouble he was trying to avoid anyhow.

Enraged by Malley’s antics in Vienna, Democrats and Republicans in Congress last week overwhelmingly passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 and included a direct rebuke of President Biden’s Iran policy.

The bill reads: “None of the amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense may be made available to transfer or facilitate a transfer of pallets of currency, currency, or other items of value to the Government of Iran, any subsidiary of such Government, or any agent or instrumentality of Iran.” 

In the same bill supported by 89 senators, Congress instituted a new requirement that all future envoys would require Senate confirmation. It also demanded a report in six months detailing exactly how sanctions relief for Iran would advance “the military capabilities of Iran.”

We already know the results of that report.

They could be heard from Iranian-supplied rockets crashing down near the US Embassy in Baghdad only a few nights ago.

The stunning bipartisan rebuke to President Biden at home, already reeling from low poll numbers and a resurgent pandemic, demands a change of course.

The president should reassign Malley, leave the faux drama in Vienna for good, reinstitute maximum economic pressure on Iran, and flex stronger military muscle in the Gulf.

Nothing less will deter the human rights-abusing, terrorism-sponsoring, genocide-threatening, Holocaust-denying bully in Tehran.

If the president does so, he’ll find bipartisan support among the public and in Congress, whatever their politics.

In the past few weeks, we have traveled to the region and spoken with friends from the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Whatever they say publicly, these nations – along with the Jewish state – feel the clock is ticking.

Frankly put, there is little room for any more miscalculation.

They all expressed one fear, namely: “How are we supposed to formulate our policies and actions when we have no idea what the US endgame is?”

It’s a fair question.

The world shouldn’t learn from a Chinese foreign ministry read out.

The author of this blog or other opinion piece is a third-party contributor who is independent of The Media Line Ltd and its partners or supporters. All assertions, opinions, facts, and information presented in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and are not necessarily those of The Media Line and/or all parties related thereto, none of whom assumes any responsibility for its content.

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