John on March 29, 2007 at 12:22 am
Update 4: Sky News is already coming to the wrong conclusions about that video:
The letter coincided with the release of new footage of the 15 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines being seized by Iranian gunboats in the Gulf.
Vessels close in on Royal Navy boats then the 15 captured Britons are shown seated in an Iranian gunboat.
But the UK has maintained the crews were in Iraqi waters and were wrongfully seized.
See update 2 below. This isn’t video of them being seized. It doesn’t show them closing in it shows the cameraman zooming in on an empty boat. And this video doesn’t prove anything about UK claims. It proves that the Iranians planned this propaganda from the start.
Update 3: Iran releases another letter supposedly written by Faye Turney.
Representative of the House of Commons,
I am writing to inform you of my situation. I am a British Serviceperson currently being held in Iran.
I would like you to know of the treatment I have received whilst here. The Iranian people are kind, considerate, warm, compassionate and very hospitable. They have brought me no harm, but have looked after me well. I have been fed, clothed and well cared for.
Unfortunately during the course of our mission we entered into Iranian waters. Even through our wrongdoing, they have still treated us well and humanely, which I am and always will be eternally grateful.
I ask the representatives of the House of Commons after the government had promised that this type of incident would not happen again why have they let this occur and why has the government not been questioned over this?
Isn’t it time for us to start withdrawing our forces from Iraq and let them determine their own future? “
Even though our wrongdoing?! This isn’t even a good fake.
Along with the release of the letter, Iran announced that sailor Turney’s release was being deferred because the Brits had “miscalculated.”
Meanwhile the UN is leaping into action and arguing about whether or not the word “deplore” is too strong. I kid you not.
The same story also notes that another Iranian mob has called for hanging all 15 Brits.
Update 2: Big developments. Links courtesy of Allahpundit at HotAir. The Iranians have now shown video of the capture of the Brits. Watch the clip. There are a total of four shots of the capture. Let’s look at each one.
Shot 1: First is this shot of a British boat all alone in the water. I’ve watched this several times and this is not a shot of the Iranians approaching the vessel. The cameraman is zooming in, probably as his boat is moving away from it.
Seen in close-up (below) it’s pretty clear that the boat is empty. There is no one at the helm. It’s dead in the water. The Brits have already been taken off.
Shot 2: An Iranian gunboat circles the British boat. When you watch the video, notice that the British boat is stopped. All the Brits are sitting in the front of the boat passively. So what exactly is happening here?
Now take a look at the guy in orange as he passes the camera position. It’s a little hard to tell with this crummy web video, but he’s clearly turning. Looks to me as if he’s looking back at the camera as he passes. Sort of suggests these guys are pretty aware of where the camera is, doesn’t it? As Allah asked at HotAir…what are these guys doing with a camera anyway?
Shot 3: Faye Turney, already on an Iranian boat.
Shot 4: Lots of boats in the water. Can’t really tell what is what. The camera pans up toward that little dot in the sky, which turns out to be a helicopter.
Obviously with the helicopter being that far away, the suggestion could be made that the Brits were way out of place. But in fact we already know from reporting last week that the helicopter was providing support for the boarding of the merchant ship but then left when everything seemed normal. When the Cornwall lost radio contact with the two Ribs, the chopper was ordered back to look for them. Here’s the report from Saturday’s Independent:
Lt-Cdr Phil Richardson, the pilot of a Lynx helicopter which had been providing cover, said the crew of the ship appeared co-operative and friendly so he was asked to continue reconnaissance in the rest of the area.
Suddenly, however, the two small Ribs lost contact with HMS Cornwall and the helicopter was sent back to find the crew of the merchant ship, pointing frantically towards the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab river. As the pilot and observer moved closer up the waterway, they spotted Revolutionary Guard fast-attack speedboats mounted with machine guns.
“They were stopped and I could identify the Royal Navy ensign and picked out one of our boats and four of five of the crew, obviously detained, ” the pilot said.
Briefly, Lt-Cdr Richardson managed to make contact with the Revolutionary Guards, who said they had arrested the British service members for straying into Iranian waters but that they were safe. The crew were then taken to an Iranian military base.
The Brits were taken away from the merchant ship into Iranian waters. And yet when the helicopter spotted them they were stopped. Doing what exactly? Well, I think we now know they were filming this little propaganda piece. Only after being contacted by the British pilot, did they head to an Iranian military base.
This video is the best evidence yet that Iran pre-planned this seizure for propaganda purposes. It’s also worth noting that this clip, like the previous one, was shown over al-Aram satellite, which as I noted below is not being broadcast inside Iran. This is pure propaganda.
Press TV has additional footage not shown in the Sky TV clip. Here’s a shot of an Iranian soldier standing over his captives on one of the Ribs. Notice that he’s looking into the camera as he passes.
Seven days in custody, including Friday. The Iranians continue to push all the wrong buttons. In a written statement delivered by the Iranian Embassy to the Brits, the kidnappers suggest the 15 captive sailors and marines should be grateful for the “hospitality” they’re receiving. From The Guardian:
[T]they enjoy welfare and Iranian hospitality…We understand the anxiety of their families, but they must be assured that they are in safe hands and have a better life than the risky mission in the Persian Gulf waters…”
The Brits are especially angry about the video Iran aired yesterday:
The Foreign Office reacted furiously to the video, calling it “completely unacceptable” and expressed “grave concerns” about the conditions under which Leading seaman Faye Turney was persuaded to admit on film that the 15-strong British naval patrol had strayed into Iranian territory last Friday.
The video was shown by al-Alam, an Iranian satellite channel broadcasting across the Middle East in Arabic…The video was not shown in Farsi to a domestic Iranian audience.
The Independent describes al-Aram as:
an obscure satellite channel with close links to the Revolutionary Guards.
Back to The Guardian. The Brits are now moving for a UN resolution condemning Iran:
Britain has started moves towards a UN security council resolution condemning the seizure of the personnel and the TV screening. The defence secretary, Des Browne, said the refusal to release the sailors was unacceptable. Britain had not planned to go to the UN until next week when it takes over the security council chairmanship, but last night South African ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, the current council president, said the UK had circulated a press statement on the hostages to the 14 other council members. He said the statement would be discussed today.
Meanwhile, the Iranians have agree to allow consular access to the prisoners on one condition:
Last night Iran’s foreign minister said his government had agreed to allow British officials to meet the hostages, although he did not specify when the visit could occur. Manouchehr Mottaki told the Associated Press that Britain must admit that its sailors entered Iranian waters for the standoff to be resolved. If the crew’s alleged entry into Iranian waters was a mistake “this can be solved. But they have to show that it was a mistake, that will help us to end this issue.”
Not sure how that’s going to work when the Brits have already released the exact coordinates where the incident took place and have let out that Iran gave two different locations, the first of which was inside Iraqi waters.
The fact that they didn’t air the video of Faye Turney inside Iran is telling. And The Independent notes that “Because of a protracted new year holiday, there have been no newspapers available in Iran for more than a week.” In short, they’re trying to look kind and responsible internationally but like tough guys at home.
More and more I’m agreeing with Frank Gaffney and others who suspect the Iranians were looking to change the subject as the UN sanctions vote neared. A few coalition bombs falling on Tehran would certainly do that. Not enough to do any permanent damage to the regime; just enough to drive the Iranian people back into the arms of the mullahs.
I’m beginning to see this incident as an opportunity to damage Ahmedinejad’s nice-guy image to the world and make him look weak at home. I hope the Brits play it for everything it’s worth.
Update: This piece in Time magazine seems to back up my assesment above. Iran’s mullahs are, essentially, playing to their base:
“The radicals are totally energized by what is going on right now,” says a professor of political science in Iran who wishes to remain anonymous because of his ties to government officials. “The moderates have all scattered and gone quiet.”
However, few insiders in the Tehran regime expect a full-blown confrontation with the West. Says Laylaz: “The worst that’s being imagined is an oil installation or two being hit.”
Category: Foreign Affairs |