The Iran/British/US Prisoner Situation
Here’s the situation. Iran took 15 British soldiers who were traveling in their waters. The US has taken over 300 Iranian intelligence officers in Iraq in recent months.
This weekÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s seizure of 15 British sailors by Iran in the contested waters of the Shattab al-Arab, the ship channel that divides Iraq and Iran, may have been payback for the capture of record number of Iranian operatives inside Iraq. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt may be a bargaining chip,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? one diplomatic source said. […]
The record haul of Iran-linked prisoners may not be a sign of IranÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s increasing involvement in Iraq. The Islamic RepublicÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s participation in the Iraq war, which includes funding, arming and training both Shiite and Sunni militias, has been known to be significant for some time.
More likely, the large number of Iran-linked prisoners reflects a change in tactics following the arrival of Multinational Force Iraq commander Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. Previously, Iranians and other foreigners could not be picked up without a provable connection to terrorism. Now, American and allied forces are encouraged to seize militants based on a reasonable suspicion of involvement in insurgent attacks. This is consistent with Iraqi law. […]
The Pentagon received ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œconsiderable pressureÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? from officials in the State department and CIA to release some or all of the Iran-linked prisoners to facilitate discussions between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Iranian officials. Apparently, Gen. Petraeus sharply disagreed, saying that he intends to hold the prisoners ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œuntil they run out of information or we run out of food,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚? according to our sources who heard these remarks through channels.
More as it develops.