Golly, I hope this doesn’t put a damper on the inevitable “peace in our time” tribute to the Iranian nuclear deal in tonight’s SOTU speech.
Iranian military forces seized two U.S. Navy boats Tuesday and are holding them in custody on Iran’s Farsi Island in the middle of the Persian Gulf, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.
Officials said it’s unclear whether the 10 American sailors who were aboard one of the small riverine boats had strayed into Iranian territorial waters before they were captured.
The officials said the Americans were on a training mission around noon ET when their boat experienced mechanical difficulty and drifted into Iranian-claimed waters and were seized by Iranian Coast guard.
John Kerry has already been on the phone with Iran’s foreign minister and the crew will supposedly be returned “promptly.” Let’s hope so for O’s sake, or else an already awkward defense of his disastrous foreign policy this evening will grow an order of magnitude more awkward. The proof’s really in the pudding here: If the sailors are in fact returned soon, fine, it was an unfortunate accident. If there’s any delay, it’ll become more difficult to believe that this happened the way it’s being claimed. One of the worst aspects of the nuclear deal, which critics saw coming before the agreement was struck, is that the White House is totally invested in its success — even if that requires them to look the other way at Iran’s transgressions in the name of preserving the deal. We’ve already seen one ominous example of that this year, with the White House having declared that it would impose new sanctions on Iran for proceeding with its ballistic missile program, only to turn around and announce that the sanctions would be delayed indefinitely after Iran objected. Knowing that Team O will bend over backwards to avoid perceptions that Iran is exploiting its nuclear detente with the U.S. to act more aggressively abroad, why would they get the benefit of the doubt here that it was the U.S. Navy that screwed up?
Here’s Navy video from late last month of Iran’s navy deciding to conduct a missile test within 1500 yards of an American ship that was in international waters at the time. The Navy called it “unnecessarily provocative and unsafe.” Do tell. I’ll leave you with this:
I wonder if Kerry knew the moderates who negotiated the JCPOA don’t really control the Iranian Navy or the Tehran police.
— Eli Lake (@EliLake) January 12, 2016
Update: Sean Davis of the Federalist notes that John Kerry’s office is tweeting about cheese this afternoon.
Update: Oddly enough, Iranian media isn’t claiming this was caused by an innocent mechanical problem.
The two boats each had several 50. cal guns and were "snooping around" in Iranian waters, Fars News Agency says
— Thomas Erdbrink (@ThomasErdbrink) January 12, 2016
Update: Is this a minor misunderstanding? Not according to Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee.
“I think it endangers everything, I really do,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the panel’s ranking member, told the Washington Examiner.
“I’m outraged, and Iran needs to release these people as soon as possible or else it would be unthinkable or impossible to make further progress with them on anything as far as I am concerned,” he said.
On CNN with Wolf Blitzer, White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki assures the nation that Barack Obama will not address the Iran hostage situation during the State of the Union. Latest reports indicate that Iran “plans” to release the sailors after dawn, though the US Navy is capable of conducting virtually any type of operations in the dark. (Last caveat from me, not Psaki, though I sat through months of those night operations on an aircraft carrier when Iran had some other hostages back in 1980.)
So why would the President address it? I would note that these are not civilians or Americans held by terrorists in a cave somewhere. This is a sovereign nation with borders, a flag, a military and all the rest. This is an embarrassment beyond words.
Update: (Jazz) 7:00 pm eastern
CNN reports that the US has had communication with command from the captured vessels. Still insisting that they will be released after dawn. No word if the boats will be returned immediately or the equipment onboard.