Sunday, April 08, 2007

Freed Brits press conference

The two officers of the 15 British servicemen released by Iran, Marine Capt. Chris Air and Naval Lieut. Felix Carman, who gave the press conference Friday, did a good job in justifying their lack of action when confronted by "aggressive" and "unstable" Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway on March 23. They had been abandoned by their helicopter air cover and their mother ship HMS Cornwall was 8 miles away and could not come to their rescue. In a split second they made their decision not to resist. To do so would have been suicidal, and many of them could have been killed. It might also have started a war between Britain and Iran. Under the circimstances who could fault them. What followed was a natural set of consequences, except that after taking advantage of the PR, showing the humbling of the British forces, Ahmedinejad unexpectedly released them.
The press conference was carried out without higher officers and without any politicians present (this could not have happened in the US), and was persuasive. If they had coaching it was not obvious, they said they admitted the least they could in order to satisfy the Iranians. They were told that if they did not do so they would be tried and spend 7 years in prison. Who would have chosen to do otherwise? Yes, it seemed that they were used for propaganda, but it did in the end ensure their release unharmed. The best possible outcome. It was interesting that the Iranians used the anti-British propaganda mostly on Arab channels rather than Farsi ones. This is part of their program to gain the sympathy of the Arab "street" from the Arab regimes that are both incompetent (in pursuing their anti-Israel agenda as they see it) and less aggressive.
There are still some unanswered questions. Why were such unprotected boats allowed to go so close to the Iranian border, why did they have no helicopter protection when surrounded, why did the Cornwall not detect the Iranian boats with its radar and send out helicopter, naval or fighter protection, were they basically intimidated by Iranian incursions, was the Cornwall in contact with the British military hierarchy or the Coalition forces while the incident was happening?
Even though from a Western viewpoint the outcome was satisfactory, in that none were killed and all forces were returned unharmed, nevertheless it was a victory for Iranian PR. But, it was a short term victory, because the coalition forces will make necessary adjustments to make sure it doesn't happen again, and the West has once again been warned by how aggressive and destabilizing the Iranians currently are.


Blogger Georg said...


Normally, a captured soldier states his name and rank and maybe his unit, according to the Geneva Convention. I wonder however if Iran signed it.


8:27 PM  

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