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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Strange Bedfellows of U. S.–Iranian Animosity

The Strange Bedfellows of U. S.–Iranian Animosity

by Mansour Farhang
A semi-irony of the 37-year-old animosity between Iran and the United States is the repeated convergence of short-term interests between hard-liners in the Iranian theocracy and right-wing political forces in America. The latest example is the dispute over the U. S. government’s $400 million payment to Iran. This money belonged to Iran as part of a $1.7 billion settlement to resolve a disagreement concerning Iran’s pre-revolutionary deposit in U.S. banks for the purchase of arms. After the 1979 hostage-taking at the U. S. embassy in Tehran, Washington froze the funds and the issue was finally resolved in 2015 along with the nuclear agreement.
The first man to refer to the settlement payment as ransom for release of “U.S. spies” was Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the commander of basij (Iran’s militia organization). His purpose was to discredit President Hassan Rouhani and the negotiations that resulted in the nuclear agreement. Virtually every hardline newspaper, website, and Friday prayer leader in Iran “confirmed” Naghdi’s assertion.
Now, six months later, right-wing politicians in America, including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, have decided to echo Naghdi’s words. Both in Iran and in the US, these men have misrepresented the truth in order to discredit their domestic political rivals.

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