Short of kidnapping more sailors, I don’t know what they could do to make it worse. The second sailor’s hostage video is airing on Iranian TV; the woman sailor’s been forced to write a third letter, this time complaining about the “Bush and Blair governments” and the treatment at Abu Ghraib; and despite it all, Ahmadinejad’s demanding that the Brits apologize.
Look at this poor bastard.
Either they’re trying to invite an attack, or … what? I don’t get it. It doesn’t make things any easier for them in the UN nuclear kabuki; on the contrary, it puts their apologists in Russia and China in a tougher spot. As Blair himself put it, “I really don’t know why the Iranian regime keep doing this. All it does is enhance people’s sense of disgust.” An op-ed writer at the Daily Telegraph suggests the public is getting restless, too: “I start to wonder whether it might not be time for us to get as nasty with other countries as they do with us.” Unless this is all part of a prisoner swap proposal for the Quds Force guys taken at Irbil, which Bush — I hope — would never agree to, then I’m at a loss.
They’ve sent the British a note asking for a guarantee that incidents like this won’t recur. Reuters makes a point of noting that, unlike Ahmadinejad, it doesn’t appear to demand an apology. It does, however, seem to demand an admission of culpability, so it’s a non-starter although the Brits claim they’re considering it. The EU, to its credit, is siding squarely with Blair.
Is a rescue operation possible here? Retired special ops guys tell the New York Sun that it’d be tough given Iranian air defenses, the need for good surveillance inside Iran, and the likelihood that the hostages will be dispersed soon to different locations. But there are other alternatives:
In Washington, American officials were emphasizing alternatives to freeing the British other than a daring commando-style raid. One such official said he foresaw a series of escalating sanctions and censure in the coming days to pressure Iran to release the hostages. These would include economic sanctions, a possible embargo, and efforts such as a blockade to prevent Iran from importing refined gasoline. While Iran is one of the world’s leading exporters of petroleum, it still lacks refining capacity to turn oil into gasoline.
Also being considered is a plan to expel known spies from Iranian embassies in Europe and other allied countries…
Yesterday an American intelligence official who has watched Iran said that there was consensus that the decision to take the sailors was approved by the Supreme National Security Council in Tehran, a body composed of the supreme leader, president, and representatives of the guardian council, the military, the revolutionary guard and the ministry of intelligence and security. The Iranian commander who likely ordered the kidnapping, according to this source, was Brigadier General Qassem Sulamani, who heads the Quds Force. The incident caught American intelligence off guard, according to this official…
Another American official yesterday said that plans were underway to move rapidly to escalate economic pressure and other measures on the Iranians. “The Iranians are going to be shocked to find out how badly they have miscalculated,” this official said. “Remember, Jimmy Carter is not the president of the United States these days.”