This week, President Barak Obama made his final speech to the United Nations General Assembly and overall it was a very good one. In his well-written address, President Obama articulated both the socio-economic successes and struggles seen within our world as well as his vision for a mightier future.
He lauded countries upholding civil rights and functioning under representative governments and berated those rejecting the "model of free societies." The President powerfully warned of the danger of religious fundamentalism and blasted nations responsible for igniting the "proxy wars that fuel disorder," yet did not mention Iran by name--the chief perpetrator of this international crime, as he did North Korea in regards to their nuclear tests. Just last year, President Obama stated that Iran's "support for terrorism" and "its use of proxies to destabilize parts of the Middle East" was problematic despite the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ("Nuclear Deal") reached at that time, that allowed Iran access to millions of previously frozen funds. Yet, bafflingly -- just five minutes after mentioning terror proxies in his address - President Obama seemed to turn a blind eye to Iran's ongoing offenses by saying, "when Iran agrees to accept constraints on its nuclear program, that enhances global security and enhances Iran's ability to work with other nations." Today, Iran is poised to move funds to its global terror proxies more easily due to the infusion of cash created by the unfreezing of their assets. Even John Kerry admitted in 2015 that some of the money going back to Iran through sanctions relief would undoubtedly go to fund terrorism. So, we all know it's happening and yet nothing is being done to stop them or to even state this obvious fact aloud before the very body that is designed to protect against such international violations. The UN Convention that prohibits terrorism financing explicitly outlines the illegality of any government that commits such an offense when it "directly or indirectly, unlawfully and willfully, provides or collects funds with the intention that they should be used or in the knowledge that they are to be used, in full or in part, in order to carry out . . . act(s) intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act" (Article 2(1)). All of which, Iran is guilty of in spades. Additionally, the Iranian government remains the U.S. State Department's top proxy war and terror sponsor. Previous reports from the U.S. State Department note that Iran remains "unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa'ida (AQ) members [and has] previously allowed AQ facilitators to operate a core facilitation pipeline through Iran." The state department has also highlighted Iran's provision of "hundreds of millions of dollars in support of H[e]zballah in Lebanon and has trained thousands of its fighters . . . in direct support of the Assad regime in Syria" as well as terrorist groups in Palestine (Hamas), Yemen (Houthis) and "throughout the Middle East." President Obama's appeals to the oppressive government of Iran have clearly fallen on deaf ears. In a one on one with MSNBC's Chuck Todd merely 24 hours after Obama's UN speech, Iranian President Rouhani stated "if the future administration of the United States wishes to continue animosity, it will receive the appropriate response." The Iranian leader rightfully fears a future administration that may not be willing to tolerate a total disregard for international law or human rights, given that even President Obama's positive nod to Iran at the UN was met with the label of "continued animosity." No amount of vocal, material, or financial appeasement can ease relations with the State Department's leading state sponsor of terrorism. Despite repeated efforts by President Obama, it will not get better until the Iranian regime abandons its practice of funding terrorism, inciting proxy wars throughout the Middle East, and oppressing their own people by using their resources to build and test weapons before providing the infrastructure needed to create a stable economy and free society for their people. While Iranian civilians and citizens were paying $7 for a loaf of bread (according to a personal source in Iran) with very little government reprieve or resource allocation to ease such conditions prior to the Nuclear Deal sanctions relief, the Iranian regime was spending over $6 billion to support the Assad regime in Syria in its efforts to ensure a Shi'a majority in the region. The Iranian regime must be held accountable for its non-adherence to international law and its desire to finance terror globally in places like Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. It must be held responsible for using funds to bankroll violence and oppression instead of providing basic necessities and freedoms for its own people. Iran must "listen to voices of young people everywhere who call out for freedom, and dignity, and the opportunity to control their own lives." Rouhani made it clear that despite all of the steps we've taken, including acknowledging them positively at the Assembly of Nations in NY, nothing we've done has thawed our relationship or helped to improve the security of people living in the areas ruled by Iran or its terror proxies. Our leaders must continue to speak out against Iran's human rights violations and the financing of terror if we ever hope to see change and remain a positive beacon of democracy and freedom.