Even as talks to lift sanctions against the Iranian regime are advancing in Vienna, Iranian leaders are openly encouraging Hamas to launch more rockets at Israel. The head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, in a phone call with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, recently applauded Hamas for its attacks. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been inciting terrorism on social media. Pictured: Missiles are paraded past a portrait of Khamenei on the occasion of the country's annual army day on April 18, 2018, in Tehran. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
Amidst the Iranian regime's clear role in inciting terrorism against Israeli civilians, talks to lift sanctions against the regime are advancing in Vienna. The Biden administration is apparently offering even more concessions and sanctions relief to Iran's leaders, concessions that "go beyond the nuclear-specific sanctions."
Meanwhile, these leaders from Iran are openly encouraging Hamas to launch more rockets at a longtime US ally in the Middle East, Israel. Additionally, the head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, in a phone call with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, recently applauded Hamas for its attacks.
Separately, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who enjoys the final say in Iran's foreign policy, has been inciting terrorism on social media. He wrote on Twitter:
"Palestinians are awake and determined. They must continue this path. One can only talk with the language of power with these criminals. They must increase their strength, stand strong, confront the enemy, and force them to stop their crimes. #FreePalestine"
Khamenei also labeled the whole nation of Israel a terrorist camp:
"Since day 1, Zionists turned occupied Palestine into a base for terrorism. Israel isn't a country; it's a #TerroristCamp against Palestinians & other Muslim nations. Fighting this despotic regime is fighting against oppression & terrorism. And this is everyone's responsibility."
Twitter's policy indicates that it will suspend users "due to the risk of further incitement of violence." But Twitter appears to be giving Khamenei full immunity. It is worth noting that Twitter banned former President Donald J. Trump while he was in office "due to the risk of further incitement of violence."
Many users on Twitter began slamming the platform for not banning Iran's Supreme Leader for clearly inciting violence. Aaron Klein, a senior adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tweeted:
"How has Twitter not banned Ali Khamenei over the below post outright inciting terrorism against Israelis? His tweet is a virtual signal to Iran-backed Palestinian jihadists."
"Why is @khameni_ir still the fu*k on Twitter? If this isn't incitement, idk wtf is!!!" wrote @JeremyKossen. And @eL3CT10n addressed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, asking: "why on Earth aren't you banning @khamenei_ir and all his other accounts?"
Philip Klein wrote an article on National Review, titled "Why Is Twitter Letting Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Incite Rocket Attacks on Israeli Civilians?"
The Iranian regime's clear incitement of terrorism against Israel has also led many US Senators to write a letter to the Biden administration:
"Over the past couple days, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza, who are funded by Iran, have launched a series of rocket attacks into Israel. They are targeting Israeli civilians and cities, including Israel's capital, Jerusalem. This is troubling as members of your administration are currently in Vienna negotiating with Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism."
The Senators urge the Biden administration to stop negotiations with the Iranian regime:
"The United States engaging in active negotiations with Iran and potentially providing billions of dollars in sanctions relief will no doubt contribute to Iran's support of Hamas and other terrorist organizations who attack Americans and our allies. We call on you to immediately end negotiations with Iran, and make clear that sanctions relief will not be provided."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, quickly dismissed calls by the Senators for the Biden administration to cease its talks in Vienna with Iran due to Tehran's funding of Hamas rockets: "I don't have anything to offer on whether or not there is Iranian involvement in what is taking place [in Gaza]," he said.
The Iranian regime has clearly provided weapons to Hamas. Even Iran's Supreme Leader admitted on May 22, 2020:
"Iran realized Palestinian fighters' only problem was lack of access to weapons.... With divine guidance and assistance, we planned, and the balance of power has been transformed in Palestine, and today the Gaza Strip can stand against the aggression of the Zionist enemy and defeat it."
The Iranian regime also apparently views Hamas's attacks as a retaliation for the killing of General Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general who commanded Iran's extraterritorial Qods Force and was killed by the United States in 2020. A member of Iran's parliament, Ahmad Naderi, in fact, sees the conflict as a "blessing." He stated that the "clock will tick faster for Israel's annihilation," and added, "This is the blessing [brought on] by the blood of our Haj Qasem."
It is mind-boggling that the Biden administration is forging ahead with its plan to revive the nuclear deal and lift sanctions against Iran's mullahs while one of America's strongest allies, Israel, is being attacked by the Iran-backed terror group, Hamas, and Iran's leaders are clearly inciting terrorism against Israel's civilians. For humanitarian purposes and to defend its ally, the Biden administration must immediately halt talks with the Iranian regime. And definitely do not fund it. Any generosity will just be used to enrich Iran's militia, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and target more countries in the Middle East -- in addition to the United States as it did on 9/11 and 1983. This time, however, the attacks may well come from Iranian bases in Venezuela or the Southern Hemisphere.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu