British Prime Minister Tony Blair has issued a thinly veiled threat to Iran over the 15 sailors snatched by Iran last Friday. AP reports Tony Blair as saying Britain is prepared to move to a “different phase” if diplomacy fails to deliver the British sailors.
Blair is expected to resign as Prime Minister in May after a record ten years in office. Whilst his popularity has fallen significantly in the U.K., the Prime Minister holds the respect of many Americans for his calm clarifying demeanor. He will almost certainly want to avoid prolonging this latest hostage crisis but his options remain vague and limited.
The British Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, insists the British marines and sailors were seized whilst clearly in Iraqi territorial waters and the World Tribune states Iran sources as confirming the seizure of coalition forces was purely in response to the ‘defection and detention of Iranian regime officials.’
Ali Askari, a senior member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, is believed to have defected to the U.S. during a trip to Turkey. His defection has not been confirmed and, if true, is a major intelligence coup for the United States.
Five Iranian military officials were arrested inside Iraq several weeks ago in the Kurdish town of Irbil. Their fate is unknown but the U.S. have linked their arrest to the their assertion that Iran is aiding – financing, training and protecting – the Shia insurgency within Iraq.
It is believed the British sailors are being held at a secret location inside Iran but Iran has repeatedly stated they are being ‘treated humanely’.
Despite Blair’s warning to Iran, it is doubtful that the British military can attempt any meaningful retaliation and a covert rescue attempt is beyond unlikely.
Richard Buchanan | OPINIONIST.com