Friday, March 23, 2007

Iran kidnaps British sailors

The title says it all. The BBC reports 15 sailors from HMS Cornwall abducted in Iraqi waters by Iran:

The Ministry of Defence said: "The group boarding party had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

"We are urgently pursuing this matter with the Iranian authorities at the highest level.

The last time this happened, the Iranians wanted the sailors for a "hostage swap" (according to MEMRI). One wonders how closely related this is to the claim this morning by the British Army, that their operations in Basra were entirely against Iranian funded, supplied and advised militias:

Col Justin Masherevski told BBC News that Iran was providing "sophisticated weaponry" to insurgents.

"Iranian agents" were also paying local men to attack British troops, he added.

PM Tony Blair has previously said weapons used were of "Iranian origin". The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says any Iranian links are "unacceptable".

Col Masherevski said "local information" indicated that "the vast majority of the violence against us is inspired from outside Iraq"...

The standard of weapons being used against British troops was such that it could only have come from outside Iraq, he said.

"These are not old munitions being used from the Iran-Iraq war, they're much more modern - some of them produced in 2006.

"The locals are telling us these are coming in from Iran."

I notice that, in the spirit of joined-up thinking, this item has now disappeared from the News front page on the BBC site. I suppose they're just trying to avoid causing a panic. After all, the 300 has already hit relations with Iran badly, the last thing we need is this on top.

No further news on the sailors and marines, but Freedom Fighter at Joshuapundit has many more details.
Even the BBC thinks this might be a ploy by the Iranians! Will wonders never cease?
UPDATE 24th March 2007
The BBC says they've been taken to Tehran. It's clear that the Iranians are following form by claiming that the sailors and marines were in Iranian waters. It's equally clear that the seizure was planned. The sailors were picked up by six boats!
The main worry now is that the Iranians are claiming that the sailors have admitted to being in Iranian waters. This means they stand to lose a lot of face if the sailors are released and then deny it.

24th March 2007 11.50 GMT
And now the UN vote for further sanctions.

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