Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Dear Ali and Mahmoud, About Those 15 Hostages . . .

Some none too subtle messages are being air mailed to Iran today. The first and loudest was this morning's 'surprise' announcemnt from the U.S. Navy:

The US navy said on Tuesday it is staging major war games in the Gulf with two aircraft carriers for the first time since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, at a time of heightened tension with Iran.

The manoeuvres involve the USS John C. Stennis, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and their battle groups.

They are being held as tensions run high between the West and the Islamic republic over Tehran's nuclear drive and the capture last week of 15 British marines and sailors in a waterway between Iran and Iraq in the northern Gulf.

"Two air wings from the aircraft carriers will conduct air warfare exercises while the surface components will conduct exercises in three general disciplines: anti-submarine, anti-surface and mine warfare," the Fifth Fleet said in a statement.

"This exercise demonstrates the importance of both strike groups ability to plan and conduct dual task force operations as part of the US long-standing commitment to maintaining maritime security and stability in this region."
See also here. The second message is from Tony Blair,

Efforts to secure the release of 15 Royal Navy personnel held by Iran will enter a "different phase" if diplomatic moves fail, Tony Blair has said.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's spokesman, who should have simply remained silent, later emasculated Tony Blair's remarks, noting:

The prime minister's official spokesman said Mr Blair's remarks about a "different phase" did not refer to any extreme diplomatic action, such as expelling Iranian diplomats from Britain or military action.
Earlier, I posted my own suggestion here that Britain needs to move quickly, and that the first step should be diplomatic - i.e., an emergency meeting of the Security Council to condemn Iran's actions, etc. Jules Crittenden has posted the appropriate response if diplomacy does not quickly solve this situation. See here.

Hattip: Drudge

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