Crisis between the Brits and Iran escalates

I’m still getting back up to speed on the latest news on this story as I’ve been away from the computer most of the weekend but things aren’t getting better as I’d hoped they would have been. In fact, they’ve gotten a lot worse:

FIFTEEN British sailors and marines arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards off the coast of Iraq may be charged with spying.

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.”

The warning followed claims by Iranian officials that the British navy personnel had been taken to Tehran, the capital, to explain their “aggressive action” in entering Iranian waters. British officials insist the servicemen were in Iraqi waters when they were held.

The penalty for espionage in Iran is death. However, similar accusations of spying were made when eight British servicemen were detained in the same area in 2004. They were paraded blindfolded on television but did not appear in court and were freed after three nights in detention.

Iranian student groups called yesterday for the 15 detainees to be held until US forces released five Revolutionary Guards captured 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 UN on Saturday voted unanimously for tougher sanctions against Iran, which is symbolic, of course, as the Iranian ‘leadership’ – while stupid enough to capture British troops – is smart enough to realize how toothless the UN is when it comes to Iranian actions which ‘upset’ the international community.

Walid Phares on the crisis:

The Iranian regime’s master plan is to wait out the remainder of Tony Blair’s mandate (few more months) and the remaining “real time” of President Bush (till about the end of 2007). For the thinking process in Tehran, based on their Western consultants, believe that Washington and London have reached the end of the rope and will only have till 2008 to do something major to destabilize Ahmedinijad regime. As explained by a notorious propagandist on al Jazeera today the move is precisely to respond to the Anglo-American attempt to “stir trouble” inside Iran. Anis Naccash, a Lebanese intellectual supporter of the Ayatollahs regime, appearing from Tehran few hours ago on the Qatari-based satellite and “explained” that the “US and the UK must understand that Iran is as much at war with these two powers in as much as they support the rise of movements and security instability inside Iran.” He added that Khamenei is clear on the regime’s decision to strike: “we will be at war with you on all levels: secret, diplomatic, military and other.” Pro-Iranian propagandists in the region, via media and online rushed to warn that this movement is part of Iran’s counter-strike against any attempt to destabilize the regime. Two major tracks emerge from these statements, the Iranian military maneuvers and the capture of British Navy personnel.

What to do? The Brits are unsure at this point and have convened a “Cobra team” to try and sort out the particulars and formulate a response.

Captain Ed has an idea:

Will the British and the US take any action for this provocation? If the Iranians do not immediately release the sailors, the US should start taking similar action against Iranian ships entering Iraqi waters, and perhaps event start positoning for a blockade. Given the stressed nature of the Iranian economy, that will certainly get Iran’s attention, as well as the notice of its citizens.

Yep, and it will also get the attention of certain ‘leading Democrats’ in the House and Senate, who will accuse the President of trying to deliberately ‘provoke’ a confrontation with Iran. The Dems have proven themselves irrelevant and useless on matters of national security anyway, so should they respond negatively to any actions on the part of the US to help the Brits, I hope the President essentially tells them to shove it.

Read more on this developing story via Memeorandum. Jules Crittenden also has a link roundup.

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