October 20, 2023 | New York Post

Biden is being played by Hamas, Iran and Qatar — with American and Israeli lives at stake

October 20, 2023 | New York Post

Biden is being played by Hamas, Iran and Qatar — with American and Israeli lives at stake

Despite telling the world Hamas is evil, President Joe Biden is pursuing policies of appeasement toward the terrorist group’s two largest patrons and, in so doing, undermining American and Israeli deterrence.

To secure the release of hostages, enable an Israeli victory over Hamas and hold off a Hezbollah assault on Israel’s northern border, Washington must first put the squeeze on Iran and Qatar.

While Biden Thursday night promised the American people we would hold Iran accountable for its sponsorship of Hamas, the mullahs in Tehran do not today perceive any credible threat of coercion from the United States.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

The Biden administration entered an unacknowledged nuclear arrangement with Iran over the summer, offering upwards of $50 billion for Tehran to delay production of weapons-grade uranium.

That agreement still holds, with billions of dollars available for Iran’s use in Iraq-, Oman- and Qatar-based bank accounts — and billions more generated through oil exports to China.

Indeed, the same day Biden visited Israel this week, he allowed the United Nations missile embargo on Iran to expire.

Nothing prevents the White House from working with the United Kingdom, France and Germany to trigger the “snapback” of all UN sanctions on Iran — something that requires a simple letter to the Security Council and that neither Russia nor China has the power to block.

There are only two reasons the president would oppose restoring all UN sanctions on Iran: He is afraid of Iranian escalation in response, or he wants to leave the door open to future dealmaking.

Either way, Tehran rightly perceives American weakness and fear of escalation — which is one way to guarantee Iranian escalation. 

And escalate Tehran has.

For the last few days, Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria have attacked US forces without any American military retaliation.

A US contractor died of a heart attack.

Biden should not be hesitating to order retaliatory strikes against Revolutionary Guard commanders and proxies responsible for attacking American forces — but he is. 

Enter the Houthis: an Iran-controlled terror proxy in Yemen.

One of the Biden administration’s first foreign-policy moves was to remove the Houthis from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

This week, on orders from Iran, the Houthis launched cruise missiles and drones against Israel.

That Tehran feels so emboldened to light a dozen fires across the Middle East with little to no response from the United States does not bode well for Israel’s northern border. 

Hezbollah escalated its attacks on Israel this week with daily anti-tank missiles and rocket launches.

The Israeli national-security establishment appears to be waiting to enter Gaza until deterrence can be restored against Hezbollah — but on the current strategic trajectory, such deterrence may never be achieved. 

The other delaying factor in Israel launching further operations to destroy Hamas is America’s undermining role in empowering Hamas and its Qatari sponsors to run the table on a hostage negotiation.

Never mind Qatar was the broker of the last US hostage deal, which netted Iran $6 billion for five people.

If Washington believes Hamas is worse than ISIS in its barbarism, why would US policy enable Qatar to provide a base of operations and direct funding to help Hamas commit more savage massacres?

Right now, Hamas wants to buy time — and it’s using its hostages to prematurely end Israel’s military response.

Qatar, which hosts Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, wants to be the Swiss bankers to the Nazis of the modern era: maintaining ties with America, Iran and Hamas simultaneously.

Last weekend, Iran and Hamas met in Doha to coordinate next steps while Qatar’s Al Jazeera spreads Hamas disinformation, vile antisemitism and anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world. 

With Qatar finally facing calls to designate it a state sponsor of terrorism, Hamas unexpectedly released two American hostages Friday — and thanked Qatar for its efforts to win their release.

The United States is now reportedly pressuring Israel to hold off any ground invasion pending further Qatar-led negotiations.

No, Hamas hasn’t grown a heart.

In its own inhumanity, Hamas is leveraging our humanity — and undermining any military campaign to destroy it.

Rather than allow Hamas to leverage America, America should leverage Qatar: threatening tough economic sanctions if all hostages are not released within 48 hours.

And we should make clear every Hamas official roaming Doha is a legitimate military target. 

If America doesn’t get tough with Iran and Qatar, Hamas will survive, and Iran will emerge more dangerous and emboldened than ever.

And that will further eviscerate American deterrence — not just in the Middle East but around the globe. 

Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a former National Security Council official and senior US Senate aide.


Gulf States Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Jihadism