And so in the end may have been a prisoner swap after all. The Washington Post reports that the fifteen British sailors have been released. "Ahmadinejad's announcement came after Iran's state media reported that an Iranian envoy would be allowed to meet five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in northern Iraq. Another Iranian diplomat, separately seized two months ago by uniformed gunmen in Iraq, was released and returned Tuesday to Tehran."
While Admiral West remains unsure about Teheran's ultimate motivation, and while Loyola believes it is related to tensions arising from the Security Council resolutions, without any inside information but on general principles, there's a another interpretation one can put on events. It is related to the ongoing intelligence war between Iran and the West. Iran may want hostages it can trade for agents who have been captured by the US or who have defected to the West.
This is already being spun as a moral triumph for Iran. How well they treated the prisoners. How generous they are. The bare history of the case is less flattering. Iranian agents are captured in Irbil, Iraq against a background of Teheran's support for IED attacks on US forces. The Iranians seize British sailors in the Gulf. A swap is arranged. The coin of the realm is paid, with exchange rate as revealed so far, strictly in the Coalition favor. Whether other undertakings were made, of which the public still knows nothing, remains to be seen.
Austin Bay has commentary.