Today, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the release of the 15 British soldiers captured March 23 while searching for smugglers in the Persian Gulf, a move that dampens the ever-increasing tensions between London and Tehran. “This pardon is a gift to the British people” for “the occasion of the passing of Christ,” President Ahmadinejad said during a press conference, referring to the approaching Easter holiday. During the intense 13-day standoff, in which military action against Iran appeared imminent, Iran broadcasted video of a few captured soldiers confessing to have breached Iran’s international waters — the decisive incident up for debate — clearly upsetting British officials who maintain their soldiers were captured well-within Iraqi waters. And now that the Brits have been swiftly freed, many bloggers, political analysts, and media bloodhounds suspect a prisoner trade — a political tactic Iran hasn’t shied away from in the past — or political exchange of some sort, although both London and Tehran deny the claim.
Here’s what bloggers are saying about the soldiers’ release:
“Well, it’s about time.” — Chuck, chuckdarwin.livejournal.com
“The Iranians do release prisoners — whether they broke an international rule or not — the Americans just go ahead and invade an Iranian consulate and DON’T release them. The Iranians treat their prisoners well; the Americans however…” — Steven, kevintufo.net
“Hopefully, the release of these prisoners can help repair damaged relations.” — Thomaseg, mediapoliticss.blogspot.com
“At what cost will it be to the United Kingdom, to the United States and peace in the Middle East? If it is one thing we know from history (e.g. Lebanon), Iran and her subordinates love to take people hostage and ransom them for money, prisoners, or political favors.” — Paul, arenaofideas.org
“This gesture of goodwill on the part of the Iranians should be used as a building block for serious diplomatic efforts on the part of the U.S. and U.K. But I’d be very surprised if they actually do take advantage of this moment…like so many other chances it will almost assuredly be squandered.” — Neoconbs, neoconbs.com
Talk: Is Iran’s release of the Brit soldiers a “gift” or a bartering tool for political spoils?