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March 29, 2007

Iran Demands Admission of "Trespass"

Seems to me this is something of a fold. Britain doesn't want to "apologize" when it did no wrong, but I imagine they and their Iranian kidnappers can negotiate some language that gets the sailors freed. No one will put much stock in an "apology" extracted by threats against innocent sailors and marines.

It can always be taken back once the hostages are freed. I realize that's appeasement of a minor sort, but Britain will fold on this to get its men back.

And what will Iran have accomplished? Not very much, except for guaranteeing that its ships will be fired upon if they close on any coalition ships.

Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday that Britain must admit that its 15 sailors and marines entered Iranian waters in order to resolve a standoff over their capture by the Mideast nation.

Manouchehr Mottaki's statement in an interview with The Associated Press came on a day of escalating tensions, highlighted by an Iranian video of the detained Britons that showed the only woman captive saying her group had "trespassed" in Iranian waters. Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with the Mideast nation.

The Iranian official also backed off a prediction that the female sailor, Faye Turney, could be freed Wednesday or Thursday, but said Tehran agreed to allow British officials to meet with the detainees.

Mottaki said that if the 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."

"Admitting the mistake will facilitate a solution to the problem," he said late Wednesday night in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he was attending an Arab summit.

They want "help" ending "this issue." Sounds like they know they've stepped in it and are merely seeking some face-saving.

Britain of course sought help from the United Nations:

...


At the United Nations in New York, Britain asked the Security Council to support a call for the immediate release of detainees, saying in a statement they were operating in Iraqi waters under a mandate from the Security Council and at the request of Iraq, according to council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the text was not released. The issue was expected to be debated Thursday.

Which is even more futile a gesture than usual, because the Russians, apparently, are willing to give Iran the benefit of the doubt as to the boats' location upon capture.

But of course the ship wasn't in Iranian waters at all:

In London, British military officials released new information about the seizure, saying satellite positioning readings showed the vessels were 1.7 nautical miles inside Iraqi waters.

Vice Adm. Charles Style gave the satellite coordinates as 29 degrees 50.36 minutes north latitude and 48 degrees 43.08 minutes east longitude. He said that position had been confirmed by an Indian-flagged merchant ship boarded by the sailors and marines.

He also told reporters the Iranians had provided a geographical position Sunday that he said was in Iraqi waters. By Tuesday, he said, Iranian officials had given a revised position 2 miles to the east, inside Iranian waters.

"It is hard to understand a legitimate reason for this change of coordinates," Style said.

Iran, being Iran, has reneged on its promise to release the female sailor they coerced into "admitting" they strayed into Iranian waters.

Iran on Thursday rolled back on a pledge to release a female British sailor, and a top official said the 15 captives may be put on trial.

Iran's foreign minister had said Tehran would soon free Faye Turney, the only woman among the sailors and marines seized last week while searching a merchant vessel in what Iran says were its territorial waters near Iraq.

But Gen. Ali Reza Afshar, Iran's military chief, said that because of the "wrong behavior" by the British government, "the release of a female British soldier has been suspended," the semiofficial Iranian news agency Mehr reported.

Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani also told state television that British leaders "have miscalculated this issue" and if they follow through with threats, the case "may face a legal path"—presumably putting the Britons on trial.

Britain has circulated a draft press statement to the Security Council, asking it to "deplore" Tehran's action and demand the immediate release of the captives.

...

The video showed Turney in a head scarf and her uniform eating with other sailors and marines. Later, wearing a white tunic and black head scarf, she sat in a room before floral curtains and smoked a cigarette.

Turney was the only detainee shown speaking, saying she had been in the navy for nine years.

"Obviously we trespassed into their waters," Turney said at one point. "They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we've been arrested. There was no harm, no aggression."

Britain angrily denounced the video as unacceptable and froze most dealings with Iran.


For what it's worth, the Briish press seems to be reflecting a lot of public anger at the Iranian regime.

Reminds me of a line from The Dirty Dozen. The psychiatrist notes the convict-commandos have a deep-seated hatred of the American military. "That's because they only know the American military," Lee Marvin replies. "Wait 'till they meet the Germans."

The British public seems to be finally discovering there is more than one world leader out there besides George Bush.

Hot Air notes Iran once again makes a stink about its own captured spies and terrorists, and seems to be directing its thuggish young male supporters to rattle the sabers, um, posters, to frighten the Brits:

The Iranians say Britain has gravely "miscalculated" on this.

Somehow they misspellled "Our psychpoathic death-cult theofascist leaders" as "Britain."


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posted by Ace at 12:43 PM

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