JAFFA, Israel – Arab social media users were fuming at reports that the Obama administration gave the Iranian government $400 million in cash while it was negotiating the release of captive American soldiers.
The Obama administration has denied it was paying ransom money. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the cash transfer was part of a resolution to a longstanding financial dispute, and the cash was used because Iran and the U.S. at the time didn’t have a banking relationship due to sanctions.
On Thursday, Obama himself flatly denied that the payment amounted to ransom, calling the charges “the manufacturing of outrage” and stating his administration publicly disclosed the transfer in January.
The response on Sunni Arab social media was scathing.
“Maybe the pig is Shi’ite,” Zizal tweeted, referring to President Obama. “He clearly sympathizes with them, that’s why he turns a blind eye to their violations of the nuclear deal.”
— zilzal (@zilzal01) August 3, 2016
“His brother-in-law is Iranian originally,” Abu Omar replied.
— ابو عمر (@oommaarr14091) August 3, 2016
Ali Abu Yassin tweeted: “They don’t need excuses to give Iran some cash so that it could do their bidding.”
@cnnarabic ليسوا بحاجة لحجج لدفع أموال نقدا لايران
من أجل تنفيذ ما يريدون
— علي ابو ياسين (@aliabuyassin) August 3, 2016
“It’s outrageous,” Abu Mubarak tweeted. “These funds give Iran tailwind and enhance world terror.”
@cnnarabic فضيحه هذه الأموال تشجع إيران وتدعم الاٍرهاب الدولي.
— Abu Mubarak (@suhail8054) August 3, 2016
“We used to say jokingly that Obama was a Shi’ite, but I think it’s true,” Ahmad Alomar tweeted. “We’ve never seen America so weak, it happened only during his presidency, and because of his support for the Shi’ites.”
@cnnarabic كنا نسمع ان اوباما شيعيا ونضحك يبدو ان اﻷمر صحيح فما وجدنا امريكا بهذا الضعف اﻻ بعهده و ذلك بسبب دعمه للشيعة وقضاياهم
— احمد العمر (@shmm2567) August 3, 2016
“If he paid Iran $400 million, why doesn’t he just pay North Korea another $400 million to help her develop her nuclear arsenal?” Muhamad wrote.
بعد ال 400 مليون دولار لإيران يا ليت أوباما كملها ومنح 400 مليون دولار لكوريا الشمالية لتطوير ترسانتها النووية #أوباما_رئيس_العار
— صقور السعودية (@Epic_moi) August 4, 2016
Yasser Aldiri wondered: “America pays Iran $400 in ransom for four American prisoners. If Iran is a terrorist country, why put up with it?”
امريكاتدفع 400 مليون دولار لايران مقابل فدية 4 أسرىأمريكيين في إيران السؤال
ان كانت ايران ارهابيه وتخطف لماذا السكوت عن فضحها # رتويت
— الشيخ ياسر الديري (@Tjvip4rMoot8wvt) August 3, 2016
“Everybody knows that they are allies and lovers,” tweeted another. “It’s a well-known fact.”
@AlMnatiq مكشوفين من زماااااااااااااااان
وكل الناس تعرف
— القلعة (@alqal3ah_) August 3, 2016
“So Obama outrageously pays Iran $400 million in ransom,” Latif wrote. “Why don’t we find a couple of Americans to abduct?”
— Latif Yahia (@latifyahia) August 3, 2016
The news media in the Persian Gulf didn’t spare Obama either.
The Saudi news site SABQ wrote: “Obama’s greatest scandal… $400 million airlifted in boxes to the Revolutionary Guards. And in return for what?”
Readers lambasted the American government, blaming them for Iran’s “ruthlessness” in the region.