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Iran Hostage Crisis Day 13 – Conspiracy Day (Update – They’re FREE!)

John on April 4, 2007 at 12:38 am

Update 10:30AM: All 15 soldiers are being freed today:

Iran has freed the 15 sailors and Royal Marines captured in the Persian Gulf as a “gift” to the British people to mark the Easter season.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the surprise announcement in the closing minutes of a press conference in Teheran today.

In extraordinary scenes broadcast on Iranian state television immediately afterwards, Mr Ahmadinejad was shown speaking to several of the captured Britons, accepting their “apologies” for entering Iranian waters in front of the assembled television cameras.

The press refers to it as a “surprise” but I’m guessing that two days of behind the scenes negotiations had something to do with it. Were the personal apologies to Ahmedinejad part of the deal? Notice the new suit which, presumably, the soldiers didn’t have aboard their Ribs when they were captured. This is a heavily stage-managed photo op.
iran-hostages.jpg

Ahmedinejad reportedly described the release as a “gift” to Britain. When you kidnap people is it a gift to release them? According to Sky News:

Mr Blair said Britain bore the Iranian people “no ill-will” over the crisis.

I hope Blair is lying through gritted teeth. Britain needs to bear some ill-will over this incident, if only to insure it doesn’t happen again.

Still, it’s a great relief to know they’re on their way home.

iran-hostages2.jpg

[End update]

After two weeks of media silence inside Iran, the papers came out swinging today, accusing the Brits of a dark conspiracy:

Iran’s newspapers ended a fortnight’s enforced silence on the 15 detained UK naval personnel yesterday by depicting the affair as a dark conspiracy hatched by London, with many denouncing the British and some saying the sailors and marines had been sent into Iranian waters to stoke a conflict aimed at isolating the country.

The tightly state-monitored dailies were publishing for the first time since before the national new year holiday.

The usually moderate Etemade Melli accused the Blair government of devising a “pre-planned scenario” to protect the Labour party from an electoral backlash caused by British public opposition to the Iraq war. “Britain was well aware that such an incursion by its military forces would provoke a reaction from Tehran,” the paper wrote. “The existence of hi-tech satellite navigation equipment eliminates the possibility of negligence or error on the part of the British. London has been prepared to pay the price of the arrest … to perform its pre-planned scenario.”

Meanwhile, the Independent is noting their success in blaming everything on the US. Specifically, they note a number of news sites parroting their line from yesterday that the kidnapping of 15 Brits was a response to the “botched raid” in Irbil Jan. 11th:

John Nichols, writing on The Nation magazine’s blog

“President Bush describes Iran’s seizure of 15 British sailors and marines as “inexcusable behaviour”. But did the Bush administration’s anti-Iran machinations lead to the escalation in tensions that culminated in the seizure of the Brits? One of the finest reporters on Middle East affairs argues that this is precisely the case.”

USA Today (website)

“A British newspaper is reporting that Iran seized 15 British sailors in retaliation for a botched attempt by US forces to capture two high-ranking Iranian officials while they were visiting the Kurdish portion of Iraq earlier this year. ‘Early on the morning of 11 January, helicopter-borne US forces launched a surprise raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the city of Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. They captured five relatively junior Iranian officials whom the US accuses of being intelligence agents and still holds,’ Patrick Cockburn reports in The Independent.”

Fox News (website)

“A botched attempt by the US to abduct two senior Iranian officials on a visit to Iraq 10 weeks ago was the flashpoint for the current crisis in which [Iran] detained 15 British troops in the Persian Gulf, The Independent reported. The US move happened on the morning of January 11, when forces carried out a surprise raid on an established Iranian liaison’s office in northern Iraq, the newspaper claimed.”

Mother Jones (liberal magazine)

“This is precisely how wars get started, an act of aggression by one side followed by an act of retaliation by the other, tit for tat until someone gets nuked. Patrick Cockburn reports that Iran’s capture of 15 British marines and sailors was a direct response to a botched US operation in January, when the military snatched 5 Iranians in Arbil – identified as members of a Revolutionary Guard, or Pasdaran, unit – who were suspected of arming insurgents.”

That’s great that 13 days into this crisis the MSM has managed to connect exactly two points, points that as Allah at HotAir noted yesterday, had already been connected weeks ago by others. If the Nation, Mother Jones etc. want to look into this, check the timeline I posted a week ago. Then talk to me about acts of aggression leading to war.

Finally, the NY Times has a worthwhile report on the division in the Iranian government and how they play into the current crisis. Reporter Michael Slackman notes:

Shortly after the eight British sailors and seven marines were seized in what Iran says were its territorial waters, and what Britain says were Iraqi waters, it quickly became clear that the Guards were in command. Foreign Ministry officials said privately in Tehran that they were not consulted and at one point had no idea even where the sailors and marines were being detained.

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