Wednesday, April 04, 2007


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."

Former Spook had quoted an Iranian diplomat as saying the Iranians wanted to swap the "Irbil 5" for the "British 15" and guessed a swap was imminent. On March 24, in A British Tar, I wrote:

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.


Blogger Peter Grynch said...

One of the cute little items in the Al Quada handbook is the advice to always claim you've been tortured when released from captivity.

Too bad the Brits are undoubtedly unable to follow this advice.

That would put a spike in Iran's moral superiority argument...

4/04/2007 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Shoulda just started sinking their shit and assassinating people.


Too bad we couldn't somehow prod Russia to invade. The Russians sure seem to be able to do catastrophic damage indifferently, and the Euros might start getting a little more friendly.

God is this the stupidest geopolitical situation ever or what.

4/04/2007 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

It's certainly no gift. I think they made a mistake taking the hostages in the first place, but they have turned it to their political advantage. Just as the West was beginning to gear up psychologically for another 444-day standoff, just as a certain amount of resolve begins to infuse our spirits, then they take off the pressure. Moderate anti-war types breathe a sigh of relief and say to themselves, see they're reasonable people after all. A punch followed by a caress. Think of it as Stockholm Syndrome by proxy. A-jad's timing is amazing.

I'm only hoping that we didn't give up anything substantive to get this. We should find a way to return the favor so we can look magnanimous too.

4/04/2007 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

One good thing--the mullahs have revealed themselves once again.

Someday somebody is gonna get pissed off.

4/04/2007 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Steve M said...

I'm just happy that we got our people back. It would seem that diplomacy with a hint of menace achieved a result.

There's much nonsense spoken about who won. The issue of Iranian nuclear weapons should put this affair into perspective. Its significance is therefore embodied in the question, do the events of the last few days make it more or less likely that the international community will allow Iran to develop nukes?

4/04/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

The issue of Iranian nuclear weapons should put this affair into perspective.

Yes, that is the big issue here. I am in the camp that believes we lost ground here precisely because the Iranian government is managing western public opinion so well. Whereas we seem remarkably inept at convincing anyone that mullahs with nukes are more dangerous than a Bush with a Bible.

4/04/2007 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Tehran bloggers see through smoke and mirrors

4/04/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

As I have said before...

Eye on the prize...

Thousands of palestinians & more are using damascus as a transit point to iran for training..

this aint over by a long shot...

3rd carrier group should be in area in a week

french carrier already there

british, where are they?

iran holding missing fbi agent?

how many iranian GENERALS have defected?

1000 more centrifuges online in Iran...

hezbollah reloaded?

hamas reloaded?

get the popcorn ready

4/04/2007 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Notice how vocal they were about the Brits and how quiet they are about the former FBI agent? The Brits are for show, the FBI guy is for interrogation.

4/04/2007 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Ye of little Faith!
President (Newspeak) Bush
""... This time of adversity offers a unique moment of opportunity -- a moment we must seize to change our culture.

Through the gathering momentum of millions of acts of service and decency and kindness, I know we can overcome evil with greater good. (Applause.)

And we have a great opportunity during this time of war to lead the world toward the values that will bring lasting peace

-ht, desert Rat

4/04/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"change our culture. "
Open Borders seem to be doing a fine job of that.

4/04/2007 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...


4/04/2007 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

The bad guys now have fifteen official-issue British uniforms.

4/04/2007 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

and boats, and gps and weapons

just like last time...

4/05/2007 04:19:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

Put me down in the column that says that Iran didn't achieve anything with this latest stunt. Victor Davis Hansen has a piece up today at NRO that suggests that the Iranian regime is in a bad way and is engaging in almost random provocations hoping to get the west to react -- specifically the Brits and Americans -- so they can hide their blatant incompetence behind a veil of victimization.

I think they let the British sailors go to cut their losses. As far as I can tell the only quid pro quo they got was one fairly-long-held Iranian "diplomat" and the right to visit the "Ibril 5". Intelligence assets are like fish -- wonderful when they are fresh but with a limited shelf life -- and we've probably gotten most of what we are going to get from the six Iranians in question. Giving one back and allowing access to the other five is a small concession and a good deal for our side if it means we can just go back to the slow squeeze from which the Iranian regime was trying to escape.

4/05/2007 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I like the VDH point of view better than my own, but we have precedent here. Why do we imagine that a containment strategy is working any better against Iran than it worked against Saddam? I agree that we should not be bombing Iran, at least not now, but it seems to me that the biggest part of this contest involves public opinion in Europe and America. I would like to think that we can maintain consistent long-term strategies, but I don't see it happening.

4/05/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Captain USpace said...

Of course, Iran is a peaceful nation...

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
kidnap some sailors

trump up some charges
distract the world buy more time

4/05/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger BigLeeH said...

Why do we imagine that a containment strategy is working any better against Iran than it worked against Saddam?

For now we can only hope it will work -- because the Iranian regime does seem to fear it, and because it is the best tool available to us right now. This means, sadly, we must continue fishing for a bottom in the European pool of self-deception. The EU likes to comfort itself over its lack of hardened military resources by talking about their economic "soft power." One can only talk about ones soft power for so long without some sort of demonstration without looking silly. There comes a point where the difference between impotence and 'soft' power comes down to the ability to perform certain necessary functions.

If England or the US had taken the bait and responded militarily then the rest of Europe would have considered themselves "off the hook," saying, "if Blair and Bush hadn't flown off the handle we would have dealt with the problem with diplomacy and economic sanctions which would have quickly brought the Iranians to heel."

I think Blair took exactly the right tone when he said, in effect, "thanks for returning our sailors ... now, about your nuclear program." It leaves the rest of the EU standing with their soft power in their hands and with a now or never opportunity to use it.

4/05/2007 11:04:00 AM  

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