I haven’t blogged about the Iranians kidnapping some of our soldiers because I really couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to say that every other blogger isn’t already saying.
However, over the last few days the situation – I feel – has changed. When it all kicked off it was a simple case of “you threaten to invade our country, we’ll embarass you” – they were taking the piss. I think the original plan to kidnap some soldiers was probably conceived by the less militant element of the Iranian government as a way to score points and keep the hard-liners happy without actually going as far as blowing something up. I think the change of focus into using the soldiers as a propaganda tool is the work of the hard-liners in the Iranian government who weren’t bought by the pissing contest originally planned.
I don’t think the soldiers are in any danger but I think they will be exploited more before they are released. I can’t see the situation escalating too much further either in real terms. Iran is a big oil producer with a lot of support in the middle east. Support amongst Islamic countries for action against Iran will be hard to get – maybe Pakistan and Saudi will give their support and possibly Turkey too but it won’t go down well at all. Then there’s the fact that both our own armed forces and those of the US are severely overstretched already and despite Bush declaring the war to be over and won for some time, Iraq is still out of control. Iran is big – the 7th biggest country in the world, the Iranians are happy with their government as a whole and they are deeply religious people in a fundamentalist state – they will see an attack on their country as an attack on their religion and nothing (except, perhaps football ) motivates people like religion. They also have the largest troop mobilisation in the world and because they produce their own military hardware nobody is quite sure what they have.
So, when will the soldiers be released? As soon as the media stops putting their photographs on the front page of newspapers and giving it extended coverage on the news channels. They are being used for propaganda purposes, stop giving them what they want and they’ll be of no use to them and they’ll send them back.
Oh yes, and tell Bush to stop threatening to invade their country for trying to build nuclear power stations might help as well.