White House Deadlocked on Saving Iran Nuclear Deal As Protests Rock Islamic Republic

Originally Published in the Free Beacon

White House national security officials are focused on developing strategies to support and foster demonstrations in Iran that have gripped the country for more than a week, but are in a deadlock over whether to preserve the landmark nuclear deal and continue providing a financial lifeline to the hardline Islamic regime, according to multiple sources briefed on the Trump administration’s ongoing discussions.

The White House is facing a deadline that could force the administration to provide continuing sanctions relief to Iran—including to several key entities that bolster the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, or IRGC.

Within the next week, the Trump administration will have to decide whether it will again waive economic sanctions on key Iranian entities, including its Central Bank, which provides the IRGC with a significant portion of its funding. Insiders worry this decision could solidify Iran’s hardline ruling regime at a time when protesters are coming out en masse against it.

Senior White House officials acknowledge they are in a tough position as they continue to focus on supporting the Iranian protesters through a range of measures that include efforts to foster further discontent with Iran’s ruling regime led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, multiple sources told the Free Beacon.



However, administration allies on the outside see a White House torn between backing a nascent revolution in Iran and preserving a nuclear deal that has only solidified the ruling regime’s power.


“If you’re the president and you’re seeing Iranians pouring out into the streets to protest the regime, how do you waive sanctions to keep the money flowing to the regime and the IRGC?” asked Richard Goldberg, a former top official for former senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) and original architect of congressional sanctions against Iran.

“We need a comprehensive strategy to support the uprising and that should include cutting off financial lifelines for the mullahs,” said Goldberg, a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who recently criticized the White House for not doing more to sanction Iran’s financial lifelines.

In private meetings over the past week, White House officials have acknowledged that they were caught by surprise by the demonstrations in Iran, which have now led to the deaths of dozens and imprisonment of hundreds.

While the protests will “have a bearing” on the White House’s future approach to upholding the nuclear deal, senior national security officials in the White House are said to be in a deadlock over how to proceed, multiple sources said.

Many in the West Wing want to continue providing Iran with sanctions relief and preserve the nuclear agreement. But they also realize President Trump feels trapped and embarrassed by the deal, which has repeatedly forced him to publicly waive key sanctions on Iran.

“I think you have a staff that’s feeling squeezed between an obsession with what Europe thinks on one hand and a well-founded fear of walking into the Oval Office with recommendations that the president views as weak,” said one veteran foreign policy insider who is close to the White House and has been briefed on the situation. “That can lead to paralysis until you either get your head chewed off or a pat on the back.”

A second foreign policy insider close to the White House said, “The question is whether the president will realize that his team is using disproven Obama and European arguments about ‘fixing’ a deal that is basically unfixable.”

One senior White House official familiar with internal discussions told the Free Beacon that sanctions are not the only tool the administration is using to penalize the Iranian government.

“The administration is not shying away from this in any way, and I’m sure everybody has a way we could be more perfect, but in this case, it’s important to note we have a president who has been unafraid on a series of things,” the official said.

“The assumption that if we don’t impose precisely the sanctions, [that] we’re doing nothing, that’s just not correct,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak on record.

The administration is still wedded to the nuclear agreement, the administration official said, meaning that some of these decisions are “out of our hands.”

“We’re not trying to tamp anything down or stop anything,” but, “it’s not entirely our call,” the official admitted.

Both the State and Treasury Departments declined to comment on whether the administration would waive sanctions on Iran in the coming week.

“The Trump administration is going to get physical with the Iranians. They’re not sure how yet, they’re not sure when. But it will need to happen,” another source close to the White House told the Free Beacon.

“Their first wave of action involved directly helping the protesters getting shot,” the source said. “Eventually they’re going to have to turn their attention to the people doing the shooting, and that will require drying up regime resources like the Central Bank,” Khamanei’s financial empire.

Jamie Fly, a former senior adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), told the Free Beacon that the protests in Iran provide a good opportunity to reassess ongoing sanctions relief to Iran, the IRGC, and other entities known for supporting regional terrorism.

“The benefits from sanctions relief have been used to line the pockets of Iran’s corrupt leaders and to murder Syrians, threaten Israel, and sow chaos in Yemen,” said Fly, now a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund. “Why should we continue to give the regime a financial lifeline that we know is only going to continue to be used to fund terror and threats against us and Israel and to repress the Iranian people?”

Omri Ceren, managing director at the Israel Project, which has been vocal in its criticism of the nuclear agreement, agreed that the administration is heading towards a crossroad.

“Even doing the bare minimum against the regime will require considering measures that touch the nuclear deal,” Ceren told the Free Beacon. “There’s no way around it. The Obama administration deliberately redefined a range of non-nuclear sanctions as nuclear just so they could lift them in response to Iranian demands. So yes, by definition, considering robust human rights sanctions will bump into the deal. And that’s because the sanctions lifted by the nuclear deal went way beyond nuclear sanctions.”





Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Barack Obama has two faces. After Trump’s victory and Hillary’s defeat, the public Obama has been gracious and diplomatic. His lectures to Trump, directly and indirectly, are couched in praise. He echoed the feeling of millions on both sides when he said, “We are now all rooting for his success”.

That’s a lie. Or rather a disguise.

Obama and his aides had, in one insider narrative, decided to don the “mask of decorum”. The contempt for Trump still seeps through the mask. And the mask hides Obama’s next big move.

President Obama is over. He knows that. There are still some things that he can do before he leaves office, but everything except the most destructive, can be undone by his successor. The next phase of his campaign will not be fought from the White House. It will be fought against the White House .

The other Obama is emerging in conference calls with his supporters. “One of the challenges that I’ve discovered being president is I’d like to be organizer-in-chief, but it’s hard,” he said in one call.

Obama can no longer be commander-in-chief. Instead he’s plotting to become organizer-in-chief.

The infrastructure for the organization was put into place long before anyone thought that Hillary might lose. Organizing for Action gave him his own organizing hub. If Hillary had won, it would have been a pressure group.  Now that Trump won, it’s an axis to build a personal counterrevolution around.

In his post-election conference call with his OFA troops, Obama told them, “I’m giving you like a week and a half to get over it”. Then it would be time to “move forward not only to protect what we’ve accomplished, but also to see this as an opportunity”. What opportunity could there be in Trump’s win?

Obama is now the only major national figure still standing among the Democrats. After Hillary’s defeat, he’s worked hard to attribute the loss to her shortcomings, not his policies and decisions.  That’s not just to soothe his ego. If he’s going to dictate the future of his party, he can’t afford to be blamed for its latest disaster. And Obama is still determined to dictate the future of the party and the country.

In conventional politics, Obama is done. There’s no way back into the White House. And Hillary’s fate won’t leave much enthusiasm for nominating the uncharismatic spouse of a charismatic ex-president.

But Obama is not a conventional politician. He’s an organizer and a campaigner at the vanguard of a radical movement that seeks to control traditional institutions, but doesn’t feel bound by them. Unlike Bill Clinton, his plans don’t begin and end with the White House. As an organizer, Obama is equipped to build bases of power outside traditional institutions. And that is exactly what he is doing.

The demoralization of the Democrats is, as Obama put it, an opportunity. Social chaos is a time for the left to overthrow and undermine traditional institutions. Fear, anger and despair are radicalizing. The left has always operated by throwing bombs and then profiting from the fallout. That’s Obama’s agenda. Having wrecked the country and the Democrats, he sees that not as a setback, but as an opportunity.

“The network that you represent, you’re perfectly poised to do that,” Obama told his OFAers.  “In other words, now is the time for some organizing.”

While the leftist rioters in the streets are garnering the most attention, the real threat comes from the network of staffers dubbed Obama Anonymous which are beginning to organize and coordinate. OFA is Obama’s equivalent of the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons built Clintonworld around staffers, but its goal was harvesting money. Obama Inc. is being built around organizing and activism. Like Clintonworld, it will be a network encompassing a variety of political and non-profit institutions. Unlike them, it will be much less focused on directing money to its bosses in preparation for an election. Instead it will function like a traditional leftist movement, merging influence operations with crowdsourced mobilization.

OFA will be far more dangerous in the wild than the Clinton Foundation ever was. The Clintons hoped to ride back to power on a giant wave of money. Obama is taking a much more radical course.

The staffers exiting government are being wired into Obama Inc. whether or not they take jobs directly working for him. The OFA alumni are building networks across organizations while taking their marching orders from him. They expect Obama to lead them back from the wilderness and into the halls of power.

He’s told them so.

“I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen.  But that’s not so far off,” he assured them. “I’m still fired up and I’m still ready to go.” His next comments promised that radical political change could and would take place.

Obama isn’t going to retire. He’s not going to spend years puttering around with a presidential library. He’s not even going to set up a Clintonesque slush fund and try to make his wife president. Instead he wants to force radical change from outside the White House by using the network he’s built.

While the public Obama wraps up business at the White House, concludes yet another world tour, alternating between praising Trump and offering him condescending advice, the other Obama is preparing to deploy a network that will dominate the Dems and set the agenda on the left.

If Obama succeeds, then he will get another shot at picking his White House successor. But beyond that, he’s been handed the keys to an organizing machine that will allow him to set even more of the agenda for his party than ever before. And he has a cause that is sending the party reeling back into his arms.

Obama believes that he can rule America from outside the White House. And he might be right.

Political norms and old rules have been falling faster than leaves in an autumn wind. If Obama sets out to move the center of power outside the White House and into an organization that will control national politics through the left, it would be dangerous to assume that he can’t and won’t succeed.

The Democrats didn’t respond to their defeat, one of a sequence, by trying to move to the center. Instead there is every sign that they are moving further to the left. Keith Ellison, a radical leftist with an anti-Semitic past, is tipped to head the DNC. Schumer still has the Senate, but Elizabeth Warren may have it before too long. Combine that with Obama as the president-in-exile and the Dems will be more radical and extremist than they were even when Obama was sitting in the White House.

The Democrats are ceasing to be a national party. Instead they are becoming a nationalizing party. They are losing their presence in much of the country, from state legislature to state legislature, and becoming the party of major cities and the national government. Their agenda is to move power from local areas to central ones, from the villages and the suburbs to the cities, from states to D.C. and from locally elected legislators in D.C. to the satellite bureaucracies of the Federal government.

Obama sees Hillary’s defeat as an opportunity to burn the Dem’s last bridges with the larger country and its “bitter clingers”, to double down on nationalizing power and to define the political narrative around the agendas of urban elites. The left crippled the Democrats. Now it wants to utterly consume them.

Barack Obama is still being vague and coy about his plans. He informs reporters that he will attack Trump when it comes to “core questions about our values and ideals”. But the “faithful” are getting much clearer signals. “You’re going to see me early next year, and we’re going to be in a position where we can start cooking up all kinds of great stuff to do.”

The election was a catastrophic disaster for the Democrats, but it opened all sorts of doors for Obama.

Hillary’s defeat removes the Clintons, his only real internal rivals, off the stage. Trump’s triumph in working class areas cuts more ties with the traditional Dem base and transforms it into a party of left-wing urban elites and their radical agendas. And the popular figures on the left, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Keith Ellison, lack his national stature, speaking skills and organization.

Obama will move to consolidate the left. And then the Democrats. He will function as a president-in-exile heading up the opposition to Trump. When it comes to verbally challenging Trump, Obama will be more likely to be interviewed and heard than Ellison or Schumer. And his people will coordinate responses across the left from street level organizing to think tanks and policy moves.

Some of it is ego.

Obama believes that he can find the key to beating Trump in the traditional tactics of the left. But most is ideology and power. Obama is not done transforming America. And America isn’t done with him yet.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag


Why Has Israel Waited So Long to Crush The Palestinian War?

With this morning’s attack at the entrance to Kiryat Arba, the current Intifada continues to creep from knives to guns. In the last few attacks in Jerusalem and now back in Kiryat Arba, Palestinian Arabs have used serious weapons to attack.

These attacks have flipped what appeared to be “random acts of violence” to an armed uprising.  The question isn’t where we are, which has become clear to most people in Israel, but how are we going to deal with it?  

Incitement and Geopolitical Considerations have Slowed Israel’s Reaction

In order to answer that question, it is important to understand that most of what we are witnessing could have been avoided. The government has gone out of its way to try to politicize the attacks instead of crushing them from the beginning.  We can see this most clearly in the ongoing finger pointing at the Palestinian Authority’s use of religious and racial incitement against the Jewish  people.  Yet one has to wonder where the government has been up until this year.  We all know both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, headed up by lifetime President Abbas, utilize children’s TV and radio to brainwash their populace.  In fact this has been going on for sometime. Another thing the government has been aware of is the Palestinian illegal arms build up in much of Judea and Samaria.  

By allowing this Intifada to simmer behind the point of a knife, the government has fed the notion to the Leaders of Fatah and Hamas that guns and bombs could in fact be used.  If the government had crushed the knife attacks in the beginning by going after the leaders’ livelihood and in fact their lives, the Arab street in Judea and Samaria would have gotten it. However, that would have required Bibi Netanyahu and Bogie Yaalon to treat this as a war.  They have not been ready to do that yet.  Understandably, their hands are tied into a larger geopolitical maneuver and declaring war on the Palestinian Authority would derail in their minds from dealing with Iran, while fending off a hostile White House and State Department.

Given the balance that needs to be struck between geopolitics and a homegrown war within Israel by Arabs who migrated to the Land within the last 150 years, a new approach must be undertaken to withstand the growing violence in Israel.

Implosion of the Palestinian Authority will Bring About a Paradigm Shift

Hints to a new course of action and trajectory by the government has been bubbling up into the media over the last few months. It is no secret that the PA is in the midst of an internal crisis.  Most Arabs and others dwelling within the Palestinian Authority areas have grown to hate the leadership as both ineffectual as well as corrupt.  Violent Palestinian Authority cops and officials use their power to steal public funds and shake down opponents.  With the above facts, the Israeli government seems to be inching towards allowing the Palestinian Authority to collapse on its own in a staged manner.  After the collapse local forces from within the various clans that make up the multi faceted Palestinian society can rebuild their relationship with Israel in the proper way.

In that approach, Israel will increasingly move towards a one state solution in a phased manner, all the while ensuring violent elements are removed and reinforcing local leaders.  

Crushing the Terror Groups Should Begin Now

Considering the fact that the PA is ineffectual as well as in a free fall, the Israeli government should make it clear that there is no longer any tolerance for any sort of attack.  By beginning now it can set the stage for lessening a chance  for a complete explosion when the Palestinian Authority’s collapse enters its final phase.

Geopolitics aside, the government in Israel must not only prepare for the day after a Palestinian Authority collapse by speaking about it, but it must be proactive ensuring the violence we have witnessed not only does not increase towards anarchy, but firmly puts it back in its place.