Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Obama administration betrays Christian pastor imprisoned in Iran

Letitia posted this article by Jay Sekulow from Fox News.

Excerpt:

In its quest for a “deal” with the hostile, jihadist Iranian regime, The Obama administration has thrown an American Christian, Saeed Abedini, under the bus – the latest American victim in the administration’s continual, naïve (at best) quest to bargain with Islamic radicals.

[...]Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Idaho resident, last year received permission to enter Iran to help build an orphanage.

Shortly after his arrival, Iran’s radical Revolutionary Guard arrested him, threw him in one of Iran’s worst prisons, and tried and convicted him on trumped-up “national security” charges – charges that had nothing to do with national security and everything to do with his Christian faith.

Even after President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case directly to the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Iran responded not by releasing Saeed but by transferring him to an even worse prison — a prison full of murderers and rapists, where his life is in danger at every moment.

The Iranian regime rebuked the president of the United States, and we’re now supposed to believe it’s acting in good faith?

President Obama is now trying to spin our stunning act of weakness as a breakthrough for peace.  In fact, we were so weak that (according to the administration) that the State Department did not even raise Pastor Saeed’s during the nuclear negotiations.

[...]Iran’s record of wrongdoing is long and sordid.

Beginning with the 1979-1981 hostage crisis, moving through repeated terrorist attacks – from the deadly Marine Barracks bombing in 1983, to the Kobar Towers bombing in 1996, to the direct intervention of Iran’s Quds force against American forces in Iraq – and including ongoing deadly support for terrorists fighting American forces in Afghanistan, Iran has proven by its deeds and words that it is America’s enemy.

If Iran had released Pastor Saeed we would have at least one concrete action to give Americans confidence that this deal was anything other than a disaster.  Instead, we are left with nothing but “commitments” from a regime that has proven itself committed only to killing and imprisoning Americans.

To make matters even worse, we have squandered a position of strength.

Iran was suffering under sanctions that were finally beginning to truly bite — wrecking its economy and causing deep discontent within Iraq. This was our opportunity to drive a hard bargain, to reach a deal that didn’t depend solely on Iranian “commitments.”

But we squandered that opportunity and left an American behind.

The Obama administration has betrayed Pastor Saeed.

One country that’s done a good job on promoting human rights and religious liberty is Canada, because they have a Conservative government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Here’s what Canada said about the deal: (H/T Dennis Prager)

The Canadian government was “deeply skeptical” on Sunday of Iran’s agreement to temporarily freeze its nuclear program, saying Ottawa’s sanctions against the regime would remain firmly in place until the new deal’s words turned into actions.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird appeared to take a stronger stance on the newly brokered deal than the United States and other allies, saying Canada would be watching Iran closely over the coming weeks and months.

“We have made-in-Canada foreign policy,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“We think past actions best predict future actions. And Iran has defied the United Nations Security Council, it has defied the International Atomic Energy Agency. Simply put Iran has not earned the right to have the benefit of the doubt.”

It’s striking to me that the American government is now to the left of Canada on foreign policy – making deals with dictators that actually set back the cause of freedom and universal human rights. I would not be surprised to see a full-scale war in the Middle East because of this deal. I guess that the Obama administration is so anxious to appear as if they are doing something that they don’t care if Iran nukes Israel in a few months. Because that’s what’s going to happen unless Israel attacks Iran first. Iran was threatening to nuke Israel as recently as last week. It’s hard to interpret the Democrat treaty with Iran as anything other than their stamp of approval on that plan.

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John Bolton: U.S. deal with Iran is an “abject surrender”

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

Neville Chamberlain Obama: peace in our time

The Weekly Standard featured a column by foreign policy heavyweight John Bolton.

Excerpt:

Negotiations for an “interim” arrangement over Iran’s nuclear weapons program finally succeeded this past weekend, as Security Council foreign ministers (plus Germany) flew to Geneva to meet their Iranian counterpart.  After raising expectations of a deal by first convening on November 8-10, it would have been beyond humiliating to gather again without result.  So agreement was struck despite solemn incantations earlier that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

This interim agreement is badly skewed from America’s perspective.  Iran retains its full capacity to enrich uranium, thus abandoning a decade of Western insistence and Security Council resolutions that Iran stop all uranium-enrichment activities. Allowing Iran to continue enriching, and despite modest (indeed, utterly inadequate) measures to prevent it from increasing its enriched-uranium stockpiles and its overall nuclear infrastructure, lays the predicate for Iran fully enjoying its “right” to enrichment in any “final” agreement.  Indeed, the interim agreement itself acknowledges that a “comprehensive solution” will “involve a mutually defined enrichment program.”  This is not, as the Obama administration leaked before the deal became public, a “compromise” on Iran’s claimed “right” to enrichment. This is abject surrender by the United States.

In exchange for superficial concessions, Iran achieved three critical breakthroughs. First, it bought time to continue all aspects of its nuclear-weapons program the agreement does not cover (centrifuge manufacturing and testing; weaponization research and fabrication; and its entire ballistic missile program). Indeed, given that the interim agreement contemplates periodic renewals, Iran may have gained all of the time it needs to achieve weaponization not of simply a handful of nuclear weapons, but of dozens or more.

Second, Iran has gained legitimacy. This central banker of international terrorism and flagrant nuclear proliferator is once again part of the international club.  Much as the Syria chemical-weapons agreement buttressed Bashar al-Assad, the mullahs have escaped the political deep freezer.

Third, Iran has broken the psychological momentum and effect of the international economic sanctions. While estimates differ on Iran’s precise gain, it is considerable ($7 billion is the lowest estimate), and presages much more.  Tehran correctly assessed that a mere six-months’ easing of sanctions will make it extraordinarily hard for the West to reverse direction, even faced with systematic violations of Iran’s nuclear pledges.  Major oil-importing countries (China, India, South Korea, and others) were already chafing under U.S. sanctions, sensing President Obama had no stomach either to impose sanctions on them, or pay the domestic political price of granting further waivers.

Seven billion dollars in funding for a nation that is a known sponsor of anti-American terrorism. What kind of moron makes a deal with a regime that is on record for wanting to attack Israel with nuclear weapons? Some sort of reincarnation of Neville Chamberlain, that’s who.

Previously, the Obama administration had been accuesed of leaking details of a strike plan by Israel against Iranian nuclear facilities.

From ABC News.

Excerpt:

Two reports today about Iran’s nuclear program and the possibility of an Israeli military strike have analysts in Israel accusing the Obama administration leaking information to pressure Israel not to bomb Iran and for Iran to reach a compromise in upcoming nuclear talks.

The first report in Foreign Policy quotes anonymous American officials saying that Israel has been given access to airbases by Iran’s northern neighbor Azerbaijan from which Israel could launch air strikes or at least drones and search and rescue aircraft.

The second report from Bloomberg, based on a leaked congressional report, said that Iran’s nuclear facilities are so dispersed that it is “unclear what the ultimate effect of a strike would be…” A strike could delay Iran as little as six months, a former official told the researchers.

“It seems like a big campaign to prevent Israel from attacking,” analyst Yoel Guzansky at the Institute for National Security Studies told ABC News. “I think the [Obama] administration is really worried Jerusalem will attack and attack soon. They’re trying hard to prevent it in so many ways.”

[...]Thursday’s reports come a week after the results of a classified war game was leaked to the New York Times which predicted that an Israeli strike could lead to a wider regional war and result in hundreds of American deaths. In a column this afternoon titled “Obama Betraying Israel?” longtime defense commentator Ron Ben-Yishai at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper angrily denounced the leaks as a “targeted assassination campaign.”

“In recent weeks the administration shifted from persuasion efforts vis-à-vis decision-makers and Israel’s public opinion to a practical, targeted assassination of potential Israeli operations in Iran,” Ben-Yishai writes. “The campaign’s aims are fully operational: To make it more difficult for Israeli decision-makers to order the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] to carry out a strike, and what’s even graver, to erode the IDF’s capacity to launch such strike with minimal casualties.”

Maybe in the next election, Jewish-American voters will think a little more about who to vote for, in view of these facts. Or maybe it will take the actual nuclear destruction of Israel by Iran to get over their prejudices. As a supporter of peaceful democracies like Israel, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

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Israel PM calls Democrats’ proposed deal with Iran “a very bad deal”

The Weekly Standard reports.

Here’s what BB Netanyahu said about a U.S. proposal on Iran’s nuclear ambitions:

“I met Secretary Kerry right before he leaves to Geneva,” said Netanyahu. “I reminded him that he said that no deal is better than a bad deal. That the deal that is being discussed in Geneva right now is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. Iran is not required to take apart even one centrifuge. But the international community is relieving sanctions on Iran for the first time after many years. Iran gets everything that it wanted at this stage and it pays nothing. And this is when Iran is under severe pressure. I urge Secretary Kerry not to rush to sign, to wait, to reconsider, to get a good deal. But this is a bad deal–a very, very bad deal. It’s the deal of a century for Iran; it’s a very dangerous and bad deal for peace and the international community.”

Foreign Policy Initiative says that the deal will weaken sanctions against Iran.

Excerpt:

As the United States and other world powers resume nuclear talks with Iran this week, a senior official in the Obama administration recently told reporters in Geneva that they seek a short-term interim agreement that gives Iran partial and reversible relief from U.S.-led international sanctions, with the goal of getting a package of short-term Iranian concessions that “stops Iran’s nuclear program from moving forward for the first time in decades” and “potentially rolls part of it back.” While this is a laudable goal, the potential package of Iranian concessions that has been discussed in the media would fail to fully freeze Iran’s nuclear program, let alone roll it back.

[...]If it costs the United States nothing to persuade Iran to implement the rumored package of short-term Iranian nuclear concessions, then we should welcome that outcome.   But while U.S. diplomats have not publicly said what they will offer in Geneva, they reportedly are considering relaxing restrictions on Iran’s oil revenues held in overseas accounts and perhaps also on trade in gold and petrochemicals.  Given the difficulties faced at times by the United States in getting allies and partners to support the sanctions regime against Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration’s potential forms of sanctions relief could be too dear a price to pay for the rumored package of Iranian concessions.

I was listening to the latest episode of the Weekly Standard podcast this morning and Lee Smith said the real reason that the Obama administration is doing this is to justify an American withdrawal from the Middle East and to abandon our allies in the region – not just Israel, but Saudi Arabia as well.

The Republicans are moving to block the Democrats from lifting sanctions on Iran.

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Kirsten Powers: American churches silent as Christians in Middle East face persecution

Moderate Kirsten Powers writes about the persecution of Christians by Muslims in the left-leaning Daily Beast. (H/T Mysterious Chris S.)

Excerpt: (links removed)

Christians in the Middle East and Africa are being slaughtered, tortured, raped, kidnapped, beheaded, and forced to flee the birthplace of Christianity. One would think this horror might be consuming the pulpits and pews of American churches. Not so. The silence has been nearly deafening.

As Egypt’s Copts have battled the worst attacks on the Christian minority since the 14th century, the bad news for Christians in the region keeps coming. On Sunday, Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 85 worshippers at All Saints’ church, which has stood since 1883 in the city of Peshawar, Pakistan. Christians were also the target of Islamic fanatics in the attack on a shopping center in Nairobi, Kenya, this week that killed more than 70 people. The Associated Press reported that the Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab “confirmed witness accounts that gunmen separated Muslims from other people and let the Muslims go free.” The captives were asked questions about Islam. If they couldn’t answer, they were shot.

In Syria, Christians are under attack by Islamist rebels and fear extinction if Bashar al-Assad falls. This month, rebels overran the historic Christian town of Maalula, where many of its inhabitants speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. The AFP reported that a resident of Maalula called her fiancé’s cell and was told by member of the Free Syrian Army that they gave him a chance to convert to Islam and he refused. So they slit his throat.

Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer and expert on religious persecution,testified in 2011 before Congress regarding the fate of Iraqi Christians, two-thirds of whom have vanished from the country. They have either been murdered or fled in fear for their lives. Said Shea: “[I]n August 2004 … five churches were bombed in Baghdad and Mosul. On a single day in July 2009, seven churches were bombed in Baghdad … The archbishop of Mosul, was kidnapped and killed in early 2008. A bus convoy of Christian students were violently assaulted. Christians … have been raped, tortured, kidnapped, beheaded, and evicted from their homes …”

Well, we are pulling out of Iraq, so there is nothing we can do to protect anyone once we are gone.

Has anyone done anything about this?

Yet so many Western Christians are silent. In January, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) penned a letter to 300 Catholic and Protestant leaders complaining about their lack of engagement. “Can you, as a leader in the church, help?” he wrote. “Are you pained by these accounts of persecution? Will you use your sphere of influence to raise the profile of this issue—be it through a sermon, writing or media interview?”
There have been far too few takers.

Wolf and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) sponsored legislation last year to create a special envoy at the State Department to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East and South-Central Asia. It passed in the House overwhelmingly, but died in the Senate. Imagine the difference an outcry from constituents might have made. The legislation was reintroduced in January and again passed the House easily. It now sits in the Senate. According to the office of Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the sponsor of the bill there, there is no date set for it to be taken up.

Wolf has complained loudly of the State Department’s lack of attention to religious persecution, but is anybody listening? When American leaders meet with the Saudi government, where is the public outcry demanding they confront the Saudis for fomenting hatred of Christians, Jews, and even Muslim minorities through their propagandistic tracts and textbooks? In the debate on Syria, why has the fate of Christians and other religious minorities been almost completely ignored?

The House passed the bill, the Senate is blocking it. The House is controlled by Republicans, the Senate is controlled by Democrats. You might think that the United States would be concerned about Christians – there are so many of us who claim to be Christians. But not everyone who claims to be a Christian has thought about how foreign policy affects the lives of Christians in other countries. Sometimes, they are more concerned about empowering the government to steal from their neighbor and give it to them. It really is that simple.

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Russia to supply Iran with state-of-the-art surface-to-air missile systems

From the Jerusalem Post.

Excerpt:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, according to the prestigious Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that the Russian government will revive the transfer three years after it canceled the original transaction.

According to Kommersant, the Kremlin agreed to Tehran’s request to complete the transaction, which will net the Russian treasury $800 million.

In addition to the missile deal, Russia has also agreed to construct another nuclear reactor in Bushehr. According to the Kommersant report, the two sides are expected to finalize the details of the deal this coming Friday, when Putin is expected to meet his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.

[...]The Russian-manufactured anti-aircraft batteries have been a source of concern to Israeli officials who fear that their enemies’ possession of them could have adverse strategic consequences.

The article reports the range of the surface-to-air missile system as 200 km.

The missiles can be used to shoot down incoming missiles or strike aircraft. It would probably make any Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear weapons facilities much more dangerous. If the system is supposed to come online in 2016 then that would mean that the Israelis would have to strike before then.

I blogged before about how missile systems sold to Iran made their way to Syria and then to Hezbollah, where they were used to sink an Israeli ship. Could that happen with these S-300 SAMs?

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