March 24, 2007

Latest News on the Iranian Hostages

Well, so much for the misunderstanding theory, not that anyone took that very seriously anyway: the UK Sunday Times reports that

A website run by associates of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, reported last night that the Britons would be put before a court and indicted.

Referring to them as “insurgents”, the site concluded: “If it is proven that they deliberately entered Iranian territory, they will be charged with espionage. If that is proven, they can expect a very serious penalty since according to Iranian law, espionage is one of the most serious offences.”

Eight British troops were captured in 2004 and held for 3 days in Tehran, where they were subjected to mock executions and were paraded on Iranian TV before being released.

The Times story also claims that the Brits were grabbed in revenge for the arrest of 5 Revolutionary Guard officers in Iraq earlier this year:

Al-Sharq al-Awsat, a Saudi-owned newspaper based in London, quoted an Iranian military source as saying that the aim was to trade the Royal Marines and sailors for these Guards.

The claim was backed by other sources in Tehran. “As soon as the corps’s five members are released, the Britons can go home,” said one source close to the Guards.

According to Ynet News the decision to capture the troops was approved last week by the Iranian General Staff and was introduced by Iran's Supreme Security Council:

The decision was reached after a report submitted to Iran’s ground forces commander warned that information on the activities of the Revolutionary Guards and the “Al-Quds Force” in Iraq was being leaked to British and American intelligence agencies following the arrest of senior “Al-Quds Force” officers by US troops in northern Iraq.

The kidnapping of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry envoy in Baghdad and the disappearance of Iranian Colonel Amir Muhammad Shirazi in Turkey (according to Iranian estimations Shirazi was kidnapped by Americans) , also played a part in the decision to kidnap the British soldiers.

Add in the UN sanctions plan that was approved today, and it doesn't look like Iran will be backing down soon. What their ultimate goal might be is hard to tell so far: are they expecting the British to cave, or are they trying to provoke an attack that they would use to justify their nuclear program?

By at 08:33 PM | Comments |