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March 23, 2007

Mahmoud's Promise Fulfilled: Iran Seizes 15 British Troops

Topics: Iran
"The incident happened during a "routine boarding operation."
The Sunday Times reported on March 18 that Iranian forces were planning to seize American, U.S., and Israeli personnel to strike back at western forces for possible clandestine operations to seize top tier commanders of the Iranian military structure for information on its activities in Iraq. Today we learn that Iranian naval vessels seized 15 British sailors and marines from the frigate HMS Cornwall in Iraqi waters. According to a American military official, "the Marines stopped an Iranian ship suspected of smuggling automobiles, and boarded it for an inspection.,While the Marines were on board, six Navy ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard showed up and claimed the British had entered Iranian waters:
... The British personnel from the frigate HMS Cornwall were "engaged in routine boarding operations of merchant shipping in Iraqi territorial waters," and had completed their inspection of a merchant ship when they were accosted by Iranian vessels, ...

... "Two boats, each with a crew of six to eight multinational forces, were searching Iraqi and Iranian boats Friday morning in Ras al-Beesha area in the northern entrance of the Arab Gulf, but big Iranian boats came and took the two boats with their crews to the Iranian waters," said the fisherman.

The British Broadcasting Corp. said the British forces were inspecting a ship suspected of smuggling cars. It did not cite a source for the report.

BBC reporter Ian Pannell on HMS Cornwall said the sailors had just boarded a dhow when they were accosted.

"While they were on board, a number of Iranian boats approached the waters in which they were operating _ the Royal Navy are insistent that they were operating in Iraqi waters and not Iranian waters _ and essentially captured the Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel at gunpoint," Pannell said.

The Iranian Republican Guard vessels (not Iranian navy) just "happened to show up" exactly at the same the British troops were on board the Iranian vessel by coincidence, or was this conflict planned? Has Mahmoud Ahmadinejad timed this to coincide with the planned UN Security Council vote on possible new sanctions resolution on Saturday?

As Hugh Hewitt says, this may be nothing of consequence, it could be 1979 redux, or could be a provocation that turns into a legitimate casus belli.

Apparently there are those that believe the latter: Although not related to today's event, several foreign embassies in Teheran are updating their emergency evacuation plans should a Western or Israeli attack on Iran occur. My guess is that such plans are a smart move. The mullah's Islamofascist regime is not going away on its own and it is dead set on creating that casus belli Hugh Hewitt speaks of.

Posted by Richard at March 23, 2007 9:06 AM

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