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Hostage Crisis Repeated

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The Mullahs in Iran are planning to do to Blair what they did to Jimmy Carter! The arrest of 15 British sailors was a very carefully orchestrated effort on the part of the Mullahs to extract the same concessions they received from the United States in 1980 - that kept their regime alive!Remember? In 1980, the Mullahs carefully stretched out the crisis right up to November, to the heart of the Presidential election season. One mediator after another approached them on behalf of Jimmy Carter, while they also secretly negotiated with Reagan’s camp. In the end, they managed to receive assurances from both Democrats and Republicans not to ‘interfere in Iran’s domestic affairs’. They played one side against the other, brought Jimmy Carter to his knees and went so far as to meet George Bush Sr. (then Vice-President Elect) secretly in Paris to receive his personal security assurances that the U.S. ‘will not interfere with Iran’s domestic affairs’.Jimmy Carter in turn, tried to bring the Mullahs to their knees too, by getting Saddam Hussein to invade Iran. Carter’s nudge created an 8 year war that not only resulted in millions of casualties, but planted the seeds for Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait and the current quagmire in Iraq.

The Mullah’s have however prevailed - for almost 30 years!!

They have emerged as the shrewdest political operators in the world today. They have played their hands beautifully having turned the “West’s” invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan into a ‘grandiose’ win for themselves. They have cleverly placed their own political allies in power in Iraq (the Shiites) and in Afghanistan (Northern Alliance)! They have also caused enough chaos in Iraq to have humiliated ‘the invaders’… who now wish they had never gone there to begin with. They precipitated America and Britain’s imminent troop reductions and stand ready to take all the spoils. This is after the United States expended more than $300 Billion dollars and over 3,000 war casualties. The Mullahs did all this without shedding a drop of blood or much money. Wow!!Maybe Bush and Blair have figured all this out! Understandably America and Britain are pissed. And the mullahs understand the situation and know that their security is not assured and that they are very vulnerable. In addition to Bush and Blair, virtually the whole world is hoping for regime change of some sort in Iran. So adding insult to injury, the Mullahs have cleverly continued down the path of acquiring nuclear technology. It is not a far leap to say that Iran’s energy related nuclear activity was always designed to establish nuclear capacity that could be used for other purposes. Why did they retrofit unfinished European light water reactors that the Shah had originally contracted for into heavy water reactors? Why establish a parallel military program to assist the ‘peaceful’ nuclear energy effort? The Mullahs naturally fear an indirect U.S. inspired move for regime change in Iran. They see the Brits as proxy fighters for Bush… who can not (and will not) take on Iran directly given his father’s promises. And the Brits after all have been fomenting dissent in Southern Iran, and have partnered with both the U.S. and the Europeans in putting economic pressure on Iran.

So why not extract similar promises from the Brits that they were able to extract from the Americans, last time they took hostages. Why not nuetralize Blair. Make Britain sign the same documents that promise ‘no interference in Iran’s internal affairs’. This way, without the threat of either American or British military actions, the Mullahs can continue with their Nuclear ambitions, and keep their stranglehold on the people …without any stoppage.

This will only leave Israel as a serious threat, but right now Iran can counter anything Israel throws at it. The Mullahs, after all, have long range missiles that can hit Israel too!

All the clues to the Mullah’s calculations are now out there for us.

First of all, they are under no rush to ‘wrap’ it up. Read the press reports. Iran is in the midst of its national “Persian New Year” holidays… so nothing can happen quickly (unless you are planning to abduct a bunch of British Sailors). Or, they seem to be “waiting for a response” from the British Government. This is all double talk for a plan to ‘stretch’ it out.Then, there is today’s news that Iran’s foreign minister told Ban Ki-moon (UN General Secretary) that “all Britain has to do is admit that their ship was in Iranian waters.” Remember there was a previous abduction of British soldiers at Iran’s frontier with Iraq some months ago. Britain apparently provided a short apology and that did the job. The point is, the Foreign Minister’s statement is a code statement for “the Mullah’s not only want an apology, BUT, written promises of no more ‘excursions’ into Iran. Or in other words, a written commitment that Britain will NOT interfere inside Iran!There is also the statement by another Senior Iranian military commander that they might trade the hostages for the diplomats that the U.S. arrested for ‘fomenting’ terrorism in Iraq. This is another tactic for delaying the settlement. First of all this is NOT, the deal that the Foreign Minister was referring to. This is really a ploy to confuse the situation by making things more complicated and involving the US, and thus simply delaying any possible settlement (or release). Again another clue they want to stretch this out!

Then, the timing is very strange. Both Bush and Blair are lame ducks, waiting to be knocked over. Neither of them have any remaining political capital to take on the Mullahs. What a great time for the Mullahs to pick a fight?

If the Mullahs can stretch this one out into next year, this will also have a huge impact on elections both in the UK and the US. They have already started establishing backroom channels with the Democrats (in the US) with meetings in Davos, Switzerland with Kerry and Biden… All the above has to be considered in light of Britain’s traditional role as a double player. On the one hand, they have maintained close trade ties with Iran (and even assisted the Mullahs in toppling the Shah) and on the other they generally act as a proxy for US strategic objectives.

We must never lose sight of the fact that although the UK is a member of the EU, it is also the world’s No.2 oil trading nation, with the 2nd and 3rd largest oil companies, Shell and BP, (which by the way, have investments in Lukoil, now the world’s 6th largest oil company).

The US above all would like to maintain the petro-dollar as the world’s fiat currency and by doing so it can support its massive public sector debt and control the world’s economy while forcing the EU and its other competitors (notably China) into line. The UK has carefully avoided joining the Euro currency club and has continued to support the petro-dollar as long as US institutions float funds through the British banking system. There clearly are benefits for the Brits to act as US proxies.In effect the Brits can leverage US assets and resources by acting as a US proxy. (Let’s not forget that the Brits put up 10,000 troops while the US put up 100,000 troops in Iraq … yet the Brits are ‘overseeing’ Southern Iraq where 50% of Iraq’s Oil reserves sit….what a heavy price US is paying for needing a friend? (Dumb Americans)!!Now that North Sea oil is dwindling, nothing would make the Brits happier than helping to destabilize the regime in Iran and possibly breaking up the country to grab a big chunk of Iran’s oil reserves (as in Iraq). The Mullahs have read Britain’s hands and are doing everything they can do to survive. They are ready for another 444 days of hostage captivation. There will be countless ‘false intermediaries’ put up by the Iranians with ‘imminent’ promises of a release. There will be a great deal of ‘bravado’ and ‘rhetoric’ from both sides. Given their survival so far and their sheer political brilliance … maybe the Mullahs will come out with one over the Brits! They want a repeat of 1980!Then again, maybe not! Blair is no Jimmy Carter. He is not a fool. He has already hit the Mullah’s hard by asking Turkey to mediate. The Mullahs in turn rejected Turkey’s participation. If relations between Turkey and Iran are impacted by this crisis, Iran’s whole ‘ground supply route’ from Europe that runs through Turkey will be threatened … which could be disastrous for Iran. The saga will go on for sure. Put on your seatbelts and hang on tight for another ride.Dr. Jalil Bahar – March 29th, 2007
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Former Iranian Diplomat, now retired real estate investor in Delaware
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