The five American citizens who have been held captive in Iran for an extended period of time and are generally considered to be hostages are currently on their way back to the United States.
When $6 billion (£4.8 billion) in Iranian funds that had been held in South Korea arrived at banks in Doha, the final pieces of a controversial swap that had been arranged by Qatar came into place.
It resulted in the following step, which was to enable five Americans, four men and one woman, all of whom are also citizens of Iran and are currently in Tehran, to board an aircraft to the capital of Qatar.
They will first be greeted by senior officials from the United States, and then they will be flown to Washington.
According to reports, the Americans include a businessman named Siamak Namazi, who is 51 years old and has been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin jail for nearly eight years; another businessman named Emad Shargi, who is 59 years old; and an environmentalist named Morad Tahbaz, who is 67 years old and also holds British citizenship.
The United States of America has stated that its people were detained on false charges in order to gain political power.
Midway through the month of August, they were relocated from Evin to a safe house in Tehran, which served as the first sign that a bargain had been reached.
As part of this exchange, clemency will also be granted to five Iranians who have been detained in the custody of the United States, primarily on charges of breaking US sanctions. It is not anticipated that all of them will travel back to Iran.
Reza Sarhangpour, Kambiz Attar Kashani, Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi, Mehrdad Moein Ansari, and Amin Hasanzadeh are the individuals that Iran has identified as being responsible.
Who are the people in Iranian prisons who hold dual citizenship?
“The nightmare that the Americans have endured is finally finished. “The solitary confinement, the not knowing, the lost days, and the extraordinarily challenging disruption to the rhythm of life,” recalled Professor Mehran Kamrava, who was born in Iran and now teaches at Georgetown University in Qatar. Kamrava is currently based in Qatar.
The agreement is the culmination of months of indirect discussions that Qatar has been mediating since February of the previous year.
There were at least nine rounds of difficult conversations in Doha, according to a source who was briefed on the negotiations. The American and Iranian delegations stayed in separate hotels during the course of the negotiations. In addition, senior Qatari officials traveled back and forth between Washington and Tehran.
Prof. Kamrava told the BBC in Doha, “I think there’s a little bit of a win for both sides,” which he believes is possible. “For [US President Joe] Biden, heading into the election, he’s bringing Americans home,” and “for Iran, there’s the release of Iranians in prison in the United States, but it’s that six billion [dollars] that’s a big win.” “For Iran, there’s the release of Iranians in prison in the United States, but that’s the release of Iranians in prison in the United States,”
Officials in Iran have stated on multiple occasions that they will spend their money however they see fit. However, insiders connected to this procedure claim that stringent control would be exercised over these money.
They emphasized that there will be no transfer of monies to Iran. “Only transactions involving humanitarian needs, such as food, medicine, and agriculture, will be paid to third party vendors on a transaction-by-transaction basis.”
The BBC was told by their sources that these funds were not part of the Iranian assets that were frozen as a result of the sanctions. Tehran had the ability to use the funds in South Korea, which were generated from the sale of Iranian oil, for bilateral and non-sanctioned aid; but, they were not used for a variety of reasons, including the difficulty of converting currency.
The transaction has been criticized by prominent Republicans in the United States as a form of ransom payment and sanctions relief. Michael McCaul, a Republican and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the United States government for sending money to “the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism.”
The thought that additional convicts may be taken into custody in the near future mitigates the tremendous sense of satisfaction that comes from learning that certain prisoners will finally be released. There are still additional people with dual nationalities being held in custody in Tehran.
“The Iranian government has become a hostage-taking government,” observes Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, which is a think tank based in London. “They have been using people as pawns, and that is part of their leverage against the West,” the speaker said.
Qatar is hopeful that this unusual moment of cooperation would help to catalyze progress on other long-standing disagreements and conflicts, including the nuclear deal that was reached in 2015 but is considered to be essentially dead when the then-US president, Donald Trump, withdrew from it five years ago. Others continue to have doubts about it.
“There is no deal or even serious talks, even though the Iranians claim they want to begin a serious diplomatic process,” claims a Western official who is familiar with this file with hardly veiled annoyance. “There is no deal or even serious talks,” says the official. “There is no deal or even serious talks.” “They have taken some steps, but we have told them, through the Omanis, what they should do to set conditions for diplomacy to have a chance,” the speaker said.
Iran appears to have reduced its production of 60%-enriched uranium, according to sources, which is a step back from weapons-grade levels of 90%, but greater than the limitations agreed upon in the 2015 pact. This news comes from the front of the nuclear issue.
Despite this, there is a growing level of concern regarding Iran’s lack of transparency on its nuclear aspirations.
Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), published a statement on Sunday strongly denouncing Iran’s “disproportionate and unprecedented” withdrawal of further IAEA inspectors. Grossi’s statement was delivered in response to Iran’s decision to withdraw more inspectors. It was referred to as “yet another step in the wrong direction,” despite the fact that the action was technically allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A statement denouncing Iran’s lack of cooperation with the NPT Safeguards Agreement was co-signed by 63 different countries and released in Vienna the week before last.
“Nobody should have any illusions that this deal will positively transform the US-Iran relationship,” emphasizes Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which is a think tank based in Washington, D.C.
“As long as Khamenei rules Iran, the Islamic Republic will continue to maintain strategic enmity with the United States,” he declares, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran. “Having an external adversary is integral to the identity of the regime, and it also serves his personal interests to do so.”
For a very long time, people have been urging President Biden to bring the Americans back home.
Earlier this year, Siamak Namazi wrote to him from prison, pleading with him to do more to honor the pledge made by the previous administration of Barack Obama to send him “safely home within weeks.” He said that he had the “unenviable title of the longest held Iranian-American hostage in the history of the situation.”
In 2015, he was detained during a business trip to Tehran and later found guilty of collaborating with an adversarial government, which is another way of saying the United States of America. When his father Baquer flew to Tehran to try to arrange his release, he was also arrested on the same charge and sentenced to the same amount of time in prison. However, he was released from jail in October of last year, reportedly due to medical reasons. According to the United States, neither of them should have been arrested.
After obtaining assurances from the British government that he and two other British-Iranians who were jailed arbitrarily, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, would return to Britain the previous year, Morad Tahbaz and his family were left feeling outraged and abandoned. Anoosheh Ashoori and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe were also among those detained.
This exchange takes place at a time when Iran is facing increasing pressure as a result of the economic impact of international sanctions and a year of extraordinary protests that were prompted by the death in detention of Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by Iran’s morality police after she was accused of violating Iran’s strict dress code.