Iranian military seizes 15 British sailors in Iraqi waters

Story here.

  1. Why?! Why did the Iranians do this? Things aren’t tense enough?! Are they trying to provoke a war?!

  2. What pretext/reason will they invoke? Will they claim the sailors were actually in Iranian waters? Were they?

  3. How will this shake out? Last time it happened, in 2004, the captured sailors were forced to read an apology on Iranian television for trespassing in Iranian waters, and released. Will it be that easy this time?

According to the BBC’s story with charts they were well within Iraqi waters.

I reckon it’s all PR for the folks in Tehran, designed to make the government look like it’s challenging the western infidels. So they’ll ham it up, force some apologies and then release the marines/sailors, all the while praying that Tomahawks don’t start raining down on Tehran (which would probably only happen if the sailors are executed).

If I were the Iranian soldiers holding the hostages, I would probably be shitting myself right about now over the possibility of an SAS/SBS rescue mission.

Given the track record of the UK govt when it comes to Iraq and the truth - who knows? That’s one of the problems with lying.

I have a memory that a legacy from the Iran Iraq war is a certain nebulousness when it comes to territorial waters.

It could be anything from a provocative UK operation, to an insertion of Special forces gone wrong through an Iranian officer exceeding orders to an assertion of regional strength or an attempt at provocation by an element of the Iranian power structure.

The charts could only come from UK official sources so they are not evidence. Unless a BBC journalist with GPS was present at the time all they can go in is DoD information.

The map is also marked ‘Royal Navy’.

They’re not in the Gulf of Tonkin by any chance, are they? :dubious:

the story is only about an hour old , so there are still lots of unknowns. But it seems like a perfect oportunity for the Iranians to talk tough, knowing that there is basically nothing the British or Americans can do about it.

Whether it’s true or not, they can claim the sailors were in Iranian territory, and the British ambassador will have to come and beg for their release.

No chance at all of that happening. Even if the Iranians are stupid enough to, say, execute the captives on live television by sawing their heads off, the British public wouldnt be willing to go to war. That would mean supporting George Bush against the axis of evil.

The first the British public would hear about a rescue mission is the reports of success or failure. Nothing whatsoever to do with going to war.

But no - the UK public will not support another war. We were lied into an almighty mess and we’re not stupid enough to believe the lying war mongers when they try to pull the same trick.

Until it is conclusively proven otherwise by unimpeachable independent sources I’m going to assume any causus-belli Bush pulls from his ass concerning an attack on Iran will stink of shit.

I wish I had your confidence. All it takes is for a Sun/Daily Mail/Telegraph campaign inciting their readers with headlines of Iranians capturing “our boys” and the next thing you know, it’ll be common sense out the window and all bets are off. Follow that up with Tehran doing something stupid - after all, weren’t they recently talking about reprisals for the abduction of some of their forces - and we could easily see things blow up

A shame. The British were once a proud race.

You think? Here’s one member of the british public that would be disgusted if we didn’t go to war after on air executions of servicemen.

Evidently, hatred for Bush is more important than such pride.

The Iranians will probably claim the captives are spies, no? (And maybe they are?)

My thoughts exactly.

Does this look like something some random “fisherman” off the street is likely to say? Notice the phraseology. Notice the sudden switch in tone right in the middle, from “officialese” to “I’m a little dumb stupid fisherman.” Right in the middle of the quote.

I’m just sayin’ is all…

That’s from here.

Well anyway, it’s fun to be paranoid.


Really? Tragic, shocking and horrible though that would be, would it really be worth the untold suffering, death and misery of thousands of Iranian civilians, the deaths of hundreds more British servicemen, the inevitable further recruitment to terrorist groups all round the world, and the inevitable increase in “spectaculars” in the west. Would it really be worth that?

I say - if this isn’t a damn lie, and alas there is always that possibility - that a vicious SAS raid is the correct response. Not war.

Well, yes. In the same way that we have zero tolerance on negotiating with kidnappers, we should have zero tolerance on kidnapping and murdering British troops. When the offender is another nation, war becomes a reasonable response imo.
Now this would all be shaded differently if it turned out our guys were in Iranian waters illicitly. Not that it becomes OK to execute them or anything, but we would be the ones making provoking actions then.

All this ‘executions’ on live TV is in-thread hyperbole anyway. From the Iranian POV their people, even those in Iraq at invitation have been kidnapped. And the same for the three and counting generals that have gone ‘missing’.

Third General missing

If you start playing dirty you can hardly complain when the other side joins you down in the gutter.


What pretext/reason will they invoke? Will they claim the sailors were actually in Iranian waters?

I’d bet euros to croissants they will…

Very possible. In all likehood, we’ll never know. It’s not like the british government will admit to it even it if it’s true.

Spies? They’re Royal Navy personnel serving in uniform. There is no justification under international law for treating them as spies.

Not all spying is done out of uniform. The Chinese frequently claim that US naval personnel are conducting electronic spying operations off coastal waters. Why couldn’t Iran claimed that the British personnel were doing the same, but they destroyed their equipment or something?

ETA: I’m not saying this was actually their mission (it seems exceedingly unlikely), but it seems like something the Iranians could claim as pre-text.

Jesus, me too. I’m finding it hard not to see the kidnappings themselves as an act of war. I hope it’s just some local commander overstepping his bounds, not a policy of the Administration in Tehran.