It appears that the Obama administration is inadvertently bankrolling Iran’s military buildup.

The $1.7 billion cash payment that the Obama administration paid to Iran in September 2016 is being used by the Islamic Republic to significantly expand its military might, says Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, senior analyst (emeritus) at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

President Hassan Rouhani’s government this month submitted to the Iranian parliament a draft budget for the fiscal year March 2017-March 2018 for the total sum of $99.7 billion.

The budget envisages a growth in expenditure of 13.9 percent over the upcoming year, but the funds allocated for defense have sharply increased by 39 percent, or $10.3 billion, including a big increase for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which oversees its foreign sabotage and terror operation.

The IRGC is a potent military force accountable to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A branch of the IRGC, the Quds Force Brigade, is commanded by notorious Gen. Qasem Soleimani and is responsible for spreading Iran’s subversive activities, including terrorism, across the Middle East and beyond.

Overall, Iran’s defense budget has increased from $6 billion in 2013 during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to $8 billion in 2014, and in an access of $10 billion for the next Iranian fiscal year.

“While we cannot establish whether the money transferred from the US went directly into the expanded defense budget, it, at a minimum, enabled the government to release an equal amount of money for defense purposes,” Raphaeli said. “It is noteworthy that the increase in the proposed defense budget for 2017 is approximately equal to the amount transferred by the US. Whatever the source of the defense budget increase, the IRGC will have ample resources to expand its nefarious activities far beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic.”

The Islamic Money Machine

The section of the military budget earmarked for the IRGC has registered a far greater increase than the military budget as a whole. The budget allocation for the Revolutionary Guards was $3.3 billion in 2013, increased to $6 billion in 2015, declined to $4.5 billion in 2016 but then increased by 53 percent to $6.9 billion for 2017, which translated into 77 percent of the total defense budget.

In fact, under the Rouhani presidency, the total allocation to the military, the IRGC, the Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed (Basij) and the General Staff of the Armed Forces all rose to almost 80 percent since mid-2013, when Rouhani took office.

Apart from its dominant share in the national defense budget, the IRGC derives vast revenues from its control over energy, construction, banking and marketing, as well as contraband smuggling. Much of this economic activity is carried out by a company known as Khatam Al-Anbiya (Seal of the Prophet), established by Khamenei in the late 1980s as the economic arm of the IRGC.

Upon withdrawal of the major oil companies such as Shell Oil (Anglo-Dutch) and Total (French) from Iran’s oil sector following the implementation of international sanctions, ownership of the oil and gas fields vacated by these companies was transferred to Khatam Al-Anbiya.

In seeking to strengthen the policy of rapprochement with Iran, the Obama administration, though its Treasury Department, has surreptitiously transferred to Iran a total of $1.7 billion, allegedly as the cumulated interest on Iran’s deposits, made during the Shah regime before the 1979 revolution, for the purchase of American weapons

‘Doing [Iran’s] Money-Laundering for Them’

It is a commonly accepted premise that money is fungible, explained Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli, senior analyst (emeritus) at The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

After the Obama Administration made what appeared to be a number of huge cash payments as ransom money to release four American prisoners, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved legislation to prevent future such payments being made without legislative oversight.

American lawmakers have decried the payments as ransom, a charge the Obama administration has rejected. Citing Iran’s status as a leading state sponsor of terrorism, Republicans also have contended the money will be used to finance terrorism around the world.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), said President Barack Obama has made it easier for Iran to funnel money to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups by delivering to Tehran virtually untraceable cash.

“We are basically doing their money laundering for them, in a sense,” Royce said.

By: United with Israel Staff

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