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January 2, 2004
Damned If You Do ...

It didn't take long for Iranian expressions of gratitude for the 150,000 pounds of relief materials given by the US to quake victims in Bam to turn into this:

Hardliners in Iran's government criticized U.S. relief efforts after the devastating earthquake that killed more than 30,000 people and flattened the ancient city of Bam, accusing Washington of trying to meddle in Tehran's affairs. ... Khatami has thanked Washington for its support but hardline clerics within the government expressed suspicion about the motives behind U.S. aid:

State radio, a mouthpiece for Iran's clerics, on Friday charged that Bush had "once again demonstrated that America's interfering and hostile policy against Iran has not altered at all."

And if we hadn't sent aid, we'd be vilified as demons who won't share our wealth to save unfortunate victims of disasters. The issue? President Bush reaffirmed his commitment to ensuring Iranian nuclear programs be brought under control and not used for military weaponry and for freedom for the Iranian people. He also insisted, although not as a condition of the aid, that Iran turn over al-Qaeda operatives known to be sheltered by the Iranian mullahs that run the country. This should not even be negotiable; the Bush Doctrine is clear that those governments that shelter terrorists are in opposition to the US.

While Bush is taking a cautious and (mostly) conciliatory tone, the response has been less than helpful:

"One should therefore not trust the expression of opinion, speeches and other optimistic signals that are sent by the American foreign policy authorities toward Iran from time to time," the radio said.

Instead of sending "meager aid" to help quake victims, Washington should unfreeze billions of dollars of Iranian assets, the radio commentary said.

Those billions need to stay frozen until Iran coughs up its al-Qaeda "guests" and complies with its treaty requirements. Until then, the mullahs can make all the statements it wants, and we'll keep making ours, too. We'll see who lasts longer.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 2, 2004 11:18 AM

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