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The UK-Iran Maritime Crisis Comes To an End

On Wednesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the release of 15 detained British sailors in a gesture meant to “show the Islamic affection of the Iranian people.” During a news conference, he declared that although Iran had every right to try the Britons on charges of trespassing in Iranian territorial waters, it would forgive and release them.

At the same time that British soldiers arrived home on Thursday and said they were ill-treated in Iran, SkyNews broadcasted the captain in charge of the 15 marines detained in Iran admitting that they were gathering intelligence on Iran.

What did we finally get?

Akbar Montakhabi [Fa] asks what Iran got at the end of the story? He says that Iran asked the UK government to present excuses to Iran before releasing the sailors but the British government refused.

When British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a 48 hour ultimatum to Iran, the sailors were released. The blogger asks what it means that Ahmadinejad's government retreats from its positions? The same administration has criticized the previous Khatami and Rafsanjani administrations for retreating from Western governments.

The blogger also says that during Ahmadinejad’s news conference some independent journalists who used to criticize the Iranian government were not allowed to ask questions. This all happened at the beginning of a year in which the government called for national unity.

Who won, who lost?

Marayma Shabani [Fa] says, “Mr. President you lost. You liberated them after UK Prime Minister Tony Blair gave you a 48 hour ultimatum. What did we get? You liberated 15 sailors and only got back one Iranian diplomat. The political initiative was at the hands of British politicians not us.”

Pasokhgoo [Fa] writes that, according to the Iranian Constitution, it is Leader of Isamic Republic Ayatholah Khamenei who can pardon criminals and the accused, but President Ahmadinejad did not mention his name.

The blogger adds that Iran showed both its power and grace by arresting and liberating the sailors. According to Pasokhgoo there was a group of radical students that wanted to organize protest demonstrations around airport where the sailors’ airplane took off, but fortunately they changed their mind.

Hoder says there are several lessons to be learned from this recent event. Iran, he argues, is a winner in the recent standoff, as it ultimately was when the U.S. removed its most threatening neighbouring regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The blogger adds that Iran's establishment is more united than everyone thinks. Painting the Revolutionary Guard as a Mafia or a government inside a government is a strategic mistake.

Rebel Radio, on the other hand, says:

the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps] is not a rogue element in the Islamic Republic, it IS the Islamic Republic. Through its foundations it controls an estimated 40% of Iran's economy. The IRGC is the main mechanism for implementing Iran's foreign policy, and takes direct orders from Iran's supreme leader, Ayatholah. Khamenei. They are the main power center in Iran, no doubt about it.

A lesson for the nuclear crisis?

Shirzad [Fa] contends that the crisis of UK sailors and the negotiation that followed can serve as a guide for nuclear negotiation. The blogger says the negotiations were fast and the results were concrete. He adds that, perhaps, many observers do not understand that authorities in Iran look at very short term results such as how they manage the Iranian economy.

The blogger says it is possible that, with regard to the nuclear energy crisis, we can arrive at a similar outcome. The authorities get some concrete results (real interests) and can turn it into propaganda. He adds that, as an Iranian, he is very happy the crisis has ended in a pacifist way and that it is not important who is labeled the winner.

1 comment

  • Bea

    When the British soldiers were released, I just said thank you on my blog to Iran’s President and the Iranian public. To me, it does not matter why they were released, but that they were, and Iran did it. Could it have been just a prudent thing to do? Maybe, if there were, in fact, ultimatums. Or does it show that there is an example for others to learn by? I like to think so.

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