WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a significant diplomatic development, five American citizens who were detained in Iran have been successfully released and are on their way back to the United States.
The five Americans, along with two family members, arrived safely in Doha, Qatar on Monday after departing from Iran. This release comes as part of a prisoner exchange agreement between the United States and Iran, accompanied by the return of $6 billion in frozen funds to Iran.
A White House official commented on this, stating, “The president is making five families whole again.” The $6 billion in frozen funds, a substantial part of this exchange, arrived in Qatar on Sunday night, leading to Iran’s decision to release the American detainees. Qatar has played a crucial role as an intermediary for negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.
President Biden, in a statement on Monday, expressed his satisfaction with the successful exchange and revealed that two of the American citizens involved had requested that their identities remain undisclosed. He also used the opportunity to call upon the Iranian regime to provide a full account of the disappearance of Bob Levinson, a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran.
“The Levinson family deserves answers,” President Biden stated. He further announced sanctions against former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence under the Levinson Act for their involvement in wrongful detentions.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken held a press conference later on Monday to address the release and answer questions from reporters. Blinken expressed his relief at the return of the American citizens and emphasized the U.S. government’s dedication to punishing countries that unlawfully imprison U.S. citizens.
He clarified that the prisoner swap was negotiated separately from discussions regarding the Iran nuclear deal, cautioning against interpreting the exchange as an indicator of progress in the nuclear negotiations, though there are many skeptics raising concern across social media platforms.
The Biden administration has underscored that Qatar will retain control of the $6 billion that is being unfrozen and will allocate it to Iran exclusively for humanitarian purposes. However, some Iran watchdogs have voiced concerns, claiming that this move is insufficient.
According to reports from Fox News, Benham Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, stated, “The Islamic Republic must be beaming now. Despite rhetoric from Washington about supporting the Iranian people, in practice with the waiver and random payment, the Biden administration is now effectively helping Tehran signal that no matter what the regime does, it will not be met with meaningful pressure.”
Furthermore President Donald J Trump took to Truth social Monday commenting on the deal current President Joe Biden made stating, “This absolutely ridiculous 6 Billion Dollar Hostage Deal with Iran has set a terrible PRECEDENT for the future. Buckel up, you are going to see some terrible things start to happen. The 3 years ago highly respected USA has become a laughingstock all over the WORLD. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. VOTE TRUMP!!!”
The release of these American citizens and the accompanying fund transfer mark a questionable development in U.S.-Iran relations. The path forward remains complex and uncertain as both nations grapple with long-standing issues and ongoing negotiations surrounding the Iran nuclear deal.
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Mental health crisis spikes among Afghan women after Taliban regained control two years ago
The women of Afghanistan are suffering a mental health crisis since the Taliban regained power two years ago. According to a joint report from three U.N. agencies released Tuesday, approximately 70% of women experience feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression.
The numbers continue to rise, as there has already been a significant jump between April and June of this year alone, with an increase from 57% the preceding quarter.
The report, conducted by U.N. Women, the International Organization for Migration and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, interviewed women online, in-person and in group consultations as well as individual telesurveys.
592 Afghan women in 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces took part in the study. The Associated Press reports:
They have barred women from most areas of public life and work and banned girls from going to school beyond the sixth grade. They have prohibited Afghan women from working at local and non-governmental organizations. The ban was extended to employees of the United Nations in April.
Opportunities to study continued to shrink as community-based education by international organizations was banned and home-based schooling initiatives were regularly shut down by the de facto authorities — a term use by the U.N. for the Taliban government.
Afghanistan is the only country in the world with restrictions on female education and the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
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