by user Towncommons
Iran has crossed into Iraqi territory, taken fifteen British sailors and marines hostage, (see here) and is threatening them with death unless five senior members of the IRGC / Quds Force, all either captured in Iraq or defectors to the U.S., are returned to Iran. See here. That is an act of war by any measure, and unless the Brits are returned immediately, it needs to be treated as such. Further, how the British leadership allowed their capture without firing a shot is unforgivable.
This is not the first such act by Iran who, in 2004, traversed into Iraqi waters and captured several British sailors and marines, claiming that they had crossed into Iranian waters. The Brits did not fight their capture and were taken into Iranian custody. Iran kept the troops for several days, threatened to put them on trial, put them on Iranian television (a violation of international law the lefties somehow missed crying about), and forced a “confession” from the sailors that they were in Iranian waters when captured. Iran released the troops three days later. Britain and the US treated this just as a misunderstanding. There is no misunderstanding this time.
Once again, this time on March 23, Iran traversed into Iraqi waters, this time capturing 15 British naval and marine personnel. They did so under the nose of the British Frigate, HMS Cornwall . It is an atrocity that the Brits allowed this to happen again without firing a shot. I know that the British troops are every bit as brave and proud as any American soldier. The British leadership, however, may be a different story. How they could allow this to happen a second time, and directly under the nose of superior British firepower is unforgivable. If the British leadership lack the backbone to defend their troops against Iranian aggression, they should pull back from the border.
Two, indications are that the Iranians are not going to return the Brits this time. See here. They are treating the detainees as hostages, and are threatening them with death for the crime of espionage. Why the difference this time. Its because the United States has decided to engage Iran in the covert war that Iran has been waging against the U.S. since 1979. Not only is the U.S. engaging, they are doing so effectively, and the Iranians are squealing like stuck pigs. See here and here. Over the past few months, by a combination of defections and covert action, we have taken at least five major targets in the command structure of the IRGC / Quds Force. (See update below - there are now 300 being held by U.S. forces) By Iranian accounts, the taking of the 15 Brits by Iran was approved by Iran’s plenary theocrat, Ayatollah Khameini in retaliaton. See here.
Under no circumstance can or should we play Iran’s game. To do so will only embolden them further. If Iran wants open warfare with the U.S. and Britain, they need only push this act a little further. Failure to return these British troops or placing them on trial have to be considered as acts of war and a stepped progression of military responses must ensue. The very first step should be to make this an international cause celebre, with Iran framed as a pariah – and the ramifications of their act spelled out clearly. This should not be treated as a simple misunderstanding at the diplomatic level.
Upadate: Walid Phares disects the Iranian thinking here, cautioning against any overt military acts against Iran because of the growing liklihood of revolt in Iran.
Update: From Pajamas Media:
American forces in Iraq now hold some 300 prisoners tied to Iran’s intelligence agencies, Pajamas Media learned from both diplomatic and military sources.
This is believed, by both sources, to be a record number of prisoners tied to Iran. Virtually all were captured in the past two months.
. . . The roughly 300 prisoners held in Iraq—the number grows frequently—are either Iranian nationals or Shiites recruited from neighboring countries that are employed one of its almost two dozen intelligence or paramilitary services. The record haul of Iran-linked prisoners may not be a sign of Iran’s increasing involvement in Iraq. The Islamic Republic’s participation in the Iraq war, which includes funding, arming and training both Shiite and Sunni militias, has been known to be significant for some time. More likely, the large number of Iran-linked prisoners reflects a change in tactics following the arrival of Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.
Previously, Iranians and other foreigners could not be picked up without a provable connection to terrorism. Now, American and allied forces are encouraged to seize militants based on a reasonable suspicion of involvement in insurgent attacks. This is consistent with Iraqi law. The number of bombings associated with Iran-backed groups seems to be declining, although both sources cautioned it is too soon to be sure. The Pentagon received “considerable pressure” from officials in the State department and CIA to release some or all of the Iran-linked prisoners to facilitate discussions between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian officials.
Apparently, Gen. Petraeus sharply disagreed, saying that he intends to hold the prisoners “until they run out of information or we run out of food,” according to our sources who heard these remarks through channels. The two sources requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the intelligence and developing events with Iran.
More than a month ago, Pajamas Media exclusively reported that the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had fled to Iran in the face of the surge and that his Mahdi Army was breaking into pieces. More recently, Pajamas Media reported that a number of Mahdi Army commanders were seeking to negotiate with American forces. Now, the Associated Press is reporting the same developments. Update: The WSJ has a similar opinion article here.
Update: As to further acts of Iranian agression, there is a strong sense among the British that the Iranians are financing the bulk of terrorist acts occurring in Basara. See here.
A senior British Army officer says Iranian agents are paying local Iraqis as much as $A620 dollars a month to carry out attacks on coalition forces around the southern city of Basra.
In an interview with BBC radio from Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Maciejewski says contact with locals suggests the "vast majority" of violence against British troops stationed in the city comes from outside Iraq.
"We haven't found any smoking gun but certainly all the circumstantial evidence points to Iranian involvement in the bombings here in Basra, which is disrupting the city to a great extent," he said.
"Local sheikhs and tribal leaders here in Basra, who are desperate to prevent this violence escalating, are telling us that Iranian agents are paying up to $US500 a month for young Basrawi men to attack us.
"I have no direct proof that I can put my hand on but I have no reason to disbelieve what we have been told by locals here, who are desperate for this interference in their internal affairs to stop.
"They want to rebuild their city and make it a thriving city here in southern Iraq."
Lieutenant Colonel Maciejewski is the commanding officer at the British base at Basra Palace.
The officer's comments follow those by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has on a number of occasions accused Tehran of supplying Iraqis opposed to the coalition presence with weapons.
"We have a lot of very modern and quite sophisticated weaponry being used against us, weaponry that could only really have been procured from a state," Lieutenant Colonel Maciejewski said.
"These are not old munitions from the Iran-Iraq war.
"They are much more modern, some of them produced in 2006, and the locals are telling us that these are coming in from Iran."
There appears to be a problem with the links now that I have updated. If you want to follow the external links, please go to: http://towncommons.blogspot.com/2007/03/iranian-acts-of-war.html