March 24, 2007

Iran: Sailors 'Confess'

Iran upped the stakes in their latest bout of brinksmanship today. Teheran announced that the 15 captured British sailors had undergone interrogation, and that at least some of them had "confessed" to violating Iranian waters:

An Iranian military official said on Saturday "confessions" and other evidence showed that British naval personnel who were detained in the Gulf had illegally entered Iranian waters.

Britain says the 15 sailors and marines were seized Friday in Iraqi waters and have demanded their immediate release.

"The investigation, and confessions that we have, shows they have been arrested in Iranian waters," an armed forces commander told state radio, which only gave his last name Afshari. ...

Iranian forces seized the British sailors and marines on Friday in the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that marks the southern stretch of Iraq's border with Iran, triggering a diplomatic crisis at a time of heightened tension over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Britain says they were detained in Iraqi waters. Asked about the report the group had been transferred to Tehran, a foreign office spokesman in London said: "We haven't had any confirmation of that."

This mirrors their last abduction, in 2004, when the Iranians paraded the British sailors in front of cameras blindfolded before their eventual "confession" -- and their release. They may be hoping for a similar outcome from this capture as well, making enough claims for domestic consumption before backing down from the potential military consequences of the action.

Will the British and the US take any action for this provocation? If the Iranians do not immediately release the sailors, the US should start taking similar action against Iranian ships entering Iraqi waters, and perhaps event start positoning for a blockade. Given the stressed nature of the Iranian economy, that will certainly get Iran's attention, as well as the notice of its citizens.


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Comments (11)

Posted by Tom Holsinger [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 11:36 AM

We will do nothing until the British do, and then we'll obey their wishes. Our own timetable for Iran won't change.

But the British will do nothing.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 12:09 PM

NOpe. Diplomatic pants dancers only "up the stakes," when they do the Russian equivalent of a "Kazatska." Arms folded in front of their chests. Drunk has skunts. They bend at the knees. From where they either jump to the ceiling. Or stick one leg out and jump. The best ones can kick heel, and trip Condi Rice as she's dancing with Chirac.

But don't hold out hope.

Vaudeville will never return.

And, Bush has yet to find his voice that will convince mainstream Americans of anything. Except that he's shallow. And, probably stupid. That's how he got he "C" grades. It wasn't that he failed to pay attention. Though that, too.

While we get to learn a lot about likes. And, dislikes.

Bush? When he tried to maneuver his friend, Harriet Miers, into the supreme's lap, he failed.

Now? He's keeping his usual team of incompetents around him. Because he refuses to "accept Gonzales' resignation." Spending more time with one's family is not a possibility, now. As the Bush family's srubbery business goes up in smoke.

While, I'd bet money most Americans are gonna look for a man who can talk OFF THE CUFF. And, who has no trouble pushing others around. And, being the meanest son-of-a-bitch in the valley.

Of course. We'll know "who" by February 2008.

What can transpire? Well, first you have to account for Mother Nature. And, you can't.

And, then? You have to account for all the ways the UN always fails. And, why bother?

While in Iraq? I doubt Maliki is looking for ways to hand Iraqi cash. Or land! OVer to the idiots in the House of Saud's tent. Even though? Well, James Baker has offices in Dubai. And, he's making a mint of money.

Someday? Baker will take on George Soros? Nah. I wouldn't care.

Whole countries don't actually dissolve. And, the Ahmad-man-in-a-dinner-jacket? What makes you think he's a long term survivor, here?

What makes you think things can't change?

Heck, sometimes things even change for the better.

Bush is probably leaving less of a mark on his presidency, than his predecessor?

Everything changes. Given time.

Posted by ed_in_cda [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 1:10 PM

One question that ought to be asked is why didn't the British 'mother' ship(s) prevent the crews' capture? One obvious possibility is that the boarding parties really really had strayed (or been tempted) into Iranian waters and could not be rescued without their blunder being officially acknowledged. Or the Iranians are upping the ante yet again, perhaps in the hope of influencing British public opinion at a strategic moment and thereby weakening the coalition even further. Or maybe this is part of a behind the scenes power grab by the Revolutionary Guard, meant to send a message to the ostensible leaders in Tehran. Or maybe Britain has purposely baited Iran to provoke and/or justify further interventions. Or maybe, it was a carefully planned smokescreen to enable another ship to slip by in the resultant confusion, with a cargo that could not stand up to scrutiny - something to do with their nuclear program, for instance - from which even the Russians are mysteriously and hastily distancing themselves.
But one thing is a certainty, if Britain had wanted to prevent the Iranians from succeeding, hot pursuit was surely reasonable and possible. However, for whatever reason, they preferred to let their forces be captured instead.
Unquestionably, there is more to this than we are being told.

Posted by unclesmrgol [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 1:28 PM

ed_in_cd mirrors my thoughts, particularly the first and last lines.

Posted by Non Partisan Pundit [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 1:46 PM

It's important to note there are serious disagreements, which are long-standing, of where the border actually is. So it's possible that from the British and Iraqi standpoint they were in Iraqi waters and from the Iranian standpoint they were not. If the British said, "Yes we were at this specific set of coordinates" then that could be the source of the "admission" they were in Iranian waters - at least the Iranian definition of the waters.

It should also be noted that Iran has long claimed it's territorial waters using an illegal baseline system instead of the internationally-recognized 12nm limit. It's possible the Brits could have been in a part of the Gulf Iran claims using the illegitimate baseline method.

Posted by Jack Okie [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 2:19 PM

JPost article linked on PJM alleges the snatch was planned on Mar 18 as a result of the arrest of a "senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil".

I see this as a sign of desperation: The further sanctions looming at the UN will hurt their already creaking economy. This is a little "wag the dog" on their part to divert the people's attention and/or attempt to provoke a reaction.

Looking at all that is happening, including Russia's withdrawal of support for Iran's nuclear program, I'm thinking that our plan for Iran is containment and covert action until the instability in the country leads to regime change. If that is our plan, it makes sense to temper an immediate military response to the kidnappings - they will work against Tehran in the long run as the Iranian people see yet more evidence that their government is leading them over the edge. As the Kennedys said, "Don't get mad. Get even."

Posted by Tom Holsinger [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 2:26 PM


There were no mistakes and the Cornwall could not have stopped it.

It was a deliberate act by the mullah regime. The only British role in this was that of a safe victim.

"... The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.

In addition, a senior Iranian military official said Saturday that the decision to capture the soldiers was made during a March 18 emergency meeting of the High Council for Security following a report by the Al-Quds contingent commander, Kassem Suleimani, to the Iranian chief of the armed forces, Maj.Gen. Hassan Firouz Abadi. In the report, according to Asharq al-Awsat, Suleimani warned Abadi that Al Quds and Revolutionary Guards' operations had become transparent to US and British intelligence following the arrest of a senior Al Quds officer and four of his deputies in Irbil ..."

Wretchard of the Belmont Club says that a subscription-only report of Opfor states:

"Update STRATFOR analyzes why Iran did it and what HMS Cornwall could have done to stop it, which is apparently not much.

posted by wretchard at 3/23/2007 03:27:00 PM"

I agree with both the above reports, and emphasize again that the British were chosen because the mullahs know that the Blair government will do nothing beyond mild disapproval about this.

Posted by krm [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 5:42 PM

We'll see if Britain is going to turn fully to the "cheese eating surrender monkey" direction or whether ther is still a bit of spine left in the last vestige left in the EU nations

Posted by Nick Kasoff - The Thug Report [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 6:54 PM

There were no mistakes and the Cornwall could not have stopped it. It was a deliberate act by the mullah regime.

How can you say such a thing about a peaceful nation, whose leaders are guided by the religion of peace? My guess is that the British soldiers were suffering because of the lousy British healthcare system, and the Iranians are just bringing them in for a checkup. They will be released with blessings and in better health.

Nick Kasoff
The Thug Report

Posted by richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 24, 2007 9:45 PM

Breaking news-- The Iranians say they will try the British for espionage.

Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | March 25, 2007 7:21 PM

Iran is flexing their muscles because georgie is all tied up in Iraq. Just like retired generals have been warning about.Gotta stay in Iraq even if Bin Laden is running free and the Taliban is growing, and Iranian influence is growing. Keeping your army in Iraq limits your options elsewhere in the region. Does anybody in the Pentagon worry about that? Were fools for going in to Iraq, it will keep biting us in the arse, for years to come. Thank God the dems are trying to pull us out of the slaughter house. The rubberstamp gop congress would keep us there till eternity.