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Washington Post: Iran’s Goal is to Take More Hostages and Exchange Them for Money

The cases of American father and son Baquer and Siamak Namazi, two Americans who were recently sentenced to ten years in prison by Iran, show that the Islamic Republic “may hope that its prisoners can eventually be exchanged for lucre,” The Washington Post editorial board wrote Thursday.

The Namazis were convicted of “cooperating with the hostile U.S. government,” as was Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese citizen with U.S. permanent resident status. Their arrest, less than a year after four Americans (including a Post reporter) were released after similarly being convicted and detained, signals that the nuclear deal that the West reached with Iran will not lead to “the broader detente with the Islamic republic that [President Barack Obama] hoped for,” the Post stated.

Ironically, Siamak Namazi was an advocate for better relations and closer economic ties between the two countries, and was likely arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) for that reason—”The Revolutionary Guard wishes to head off Western investments that might infringe on its own business interests,” the Post wrote. They also noted that the arrests may be a money-making opportunity, given that the Obama administration paid Iran $400 million at the same time the IRGC released the four Americans in January.

The U.S. government maintains that the payment was part of a separate settlement under the umbrella of the nuclear deal. However, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of Iran’s Basij militia, said in January that the $400 million payment “was returned for the freedom of the US spy and it was not related to the [nuclear] negotiations.”

The Post added that Iran’s destabilizing foreign policy also “remains unchanged. The regime has dispatched thousands of fighters to Syria to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad and is using Shiite militias to extend its influence across Iraq. It is encouraging Russia’s new bid for influence in the Middle East while doing its best to drive out the United States.”

Although the editors of the Post supported the nuclear deal, they predicted that foreigners would continue to be endangered in Iran. One editor, Jackson Diehl, wrote shortly after the deal was agreed to that engagement with Iran would likely lead “not the implosion of the Islamic republic, but its perpetuation.”

In Why Does Iran Keep Taking American Hostages?, published in the September 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Iran expert Ali Alfoneh described the regime’s detainment of foreign and dual-nationals as “a perfectly normal procedure and political practice in the Islamic Republic. That has been the case since the first day of the revolution and continues until today.”

[Photo: Firouzan Films / YouTube ]