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British sailors arrested at gunpoint by Iranian navy.

Sassy

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I hope I post this in the right forum, if not my apologies. 

I can't believe the nerve of this country, this is going to be interesting to follow.

Diplomats meet over Iranian seizure of British sailors
POSTED: 5:56 p.m. EDT, March 23, 2007
Story Highlights• NEW: Governments summon ambassadors to explain incident
• NEW: Incident could exacerbate tensions between Iran, West
•15 British sailors on patrol in the Persian Gulf "seized" by Iranian navy
• Personnel were carrying out "routine" boarding of a vessel when apprehended

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- An Iranian naval patrol seized 15 British marines and sailors who had boarded a vessel suspected of smuggling cars off the coast of Iraq, military officials said.

The British government immediately demanded the safe return of its troops and summoned Tehran's London ambassador to explain the incident.

Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett said she was "extremely disturbed" by the capture of the 15 personnel.

Iran gave no statement until nightfall, when state-run TV quoted Foreign Ministry officials saying British personnel were arrested after crossing illegally into Iran's waters. It did not say how many were taken, where they were being held, or what would happen next.

Britain announced it had called Iran's ambassador for a meeting and demanded the immediate release of the marines.

"The meeting was brisk but cordial. [Undersecretary Sir Peter Ricketts] demanded the safe return of British personnel and equipment," a British Foreign Office statement said.

Beckett said her office was making clear it expected the personnel to be released immediately, along with "a full explanation of what happened."

Iran announced on state-run TV that it had asked Britain's ambassador in Tehran to explain why the personnel had crossed into Iranian territory.

The incident threatened to exacerbate the tension between Iran and much of the West on the eve of a U.N. Security Council vote to impose new sanctions on Iran. The world powers will meet Saturday to consider that next step in the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Marines, sailors on 'routine' mission
The Royal Marines and ordinary naval officers were believed to have been apprehended by up to six ships from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy who claimed they had violated Iranian waters. (Watch how British naval personnel were seized in Persian Gulf )

British naval officials said the sailors, using small boarding craft, had completed an inspection of a merchant vessel in Iraqi waters when the Iranians arrived.

Commodore Nick Lambert, commander of the HMS Cornwall -- the frigate from which the British patrol had been deployed -- said the incident did not involve fighting or use of weapons.

"We've been assured from the scant communications that we've had from the Iranians at the tactical level that the 15 people are safely in their hands," he said.

The British defense ministry said that it was pursuing the incident "at the highest level."

The Associated Press, quoting a U.S. Navy spokesman, said the Iranian Revolutionary Guards had radioed a British warship to say no harm had come to the Britons, adding that they were seized in Iranian waters.

Lambert said the British sailors had been on a "normal, routine boarding" of a vessel that had aroused suspicions as it navigated the Shatt al-Arab, a disputed waterway that marks the border between Iraq and Iran on the shores of the Persian Gulf. (Location map)

British military patrols have been given authority to board vessels in Iraqi waters under United Nations mandate and with the permission of the government in Baghdad.

He said the captain of the merchant vessel had been cleared to proceed and the two British inflatable patrol boats were readying for departure when they were surrounded by the Iranian navy and taken into Iranian waters.

Lambert said there is "absolutely no doubt in my mind" that the marines were in Iraqi waters. But, he said, "The extent and the definition of territorial waters in this part of the world is very complicated... We may well find, and I hope we find, that this is a simple misunderstanding at a tactical level," he said.

"There hopefully has been a mistake that's been made, and we'll see early clarification and early release of my people."

Lambert added that the marines were doing critical work, "protecting the oil platforms to ensure the economic future of Iraq."

He described the Iranian navy as "a multi-headed organization" that generally stays within its territory doing its business, "and we stay inside Iraqi territory doing our business."

Foreign Minister Beckett added: "We have sought a full explanation of what happened and left the Iranian authorities in no doubt that we expect the full return of our personnel and equipment."

Similar incident in 2004
There was a previous similar incident in 2004, when Iran stopped three British boats and seized eight sailors and six marines.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry said at the time the three boats had crossed into Iran's territorial waters. The detained servicemen appeared on Iranian television blindfolded. They were released after Iran said it determined they had mistakenly crossed into Iran's waters. (Full story).

Mike Critchley, former British Navy officer and publisher of Warship World magazine, told CNN that the latest situation seemed to be a repeat of the earlier incident.

"Who knows, in a hot and hostile situation like the Middle East where things change on a daily basis, what the outcome will be," he said. (Full story)

"You can be absolutely sure that enormous pressure will be brought to bear on the Iranians to release these men who were operating under a United Nations Security Council Resolution as they are, week in and week out. What the outcome of that diplomatic pressure is no one knows at this stage of course."

Britain, the United States' main ally in Iraq, has a large military presence in southern Iraq, based out of the Shatt al-Arab port of Basra. A senior British Army officer on Friday accused Iranian agents of paying Iraqi militia to carry out attacks on coalition forces around Basra.

Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

 
C

CrazyCanuck

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warspite said:
Pherhaps this incedent is the sign it's time to "cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war" and eliminate the Iranian government before they cause any more trouble?

You're jumping the gun Warspite... a war with Iran is the last thing we need right now. This is not a time for rash decisions it is a time to sit back and let the diplomats earn their pay. Military action is and always should be a last resort a war serves nobodies interests right now. If they do declare it the first casualties will be those 15 servicemen who will probably be executed the minute it begins. Right now all we can do is hope they get home safely.
 

McG

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Boater said:
You're jumping the gun Warspite... a war with Iran is the last thing we need right now.
On that note: perhaps those, who would condemn the ship's captain, should consider that the chosen actions of the ship may be the only reason the west is not already in a new war.
 

Ex-Dragoon

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midget-boyd91 said:
I'm finding it hard to see up to six ships intercepting the RHIB. So, I was wondering if anyone here would know what the types of Rev Guard ships these would be? (What I am trying to ask is, whether or not they(Iranians) were small patrol boats who just happened to out-gun the Marines, or ships roughly the size of Kingston class etc etc...)

The boarding party were onboard the ship they boarded and chances are the rhib coxswains stayed near the car carrier to be under the guns of their boarding party rather chance being fired upon by Guard FIACs
 

Bert

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Another Stratfor perspective

Iran, Iraq: Tehran's Power Play on the Water
www.stratfor.com
Summary

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and members of the British marines on March 23 in the Persian Gulf. This incident comes as the U.N. Security Council is preparing to vote on a new resolution imposing additional sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it likely represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. It also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

Analysis

Iranian forces reportedly operating in Iraqi waters captured 15 sailors and British marines on March 23. The British personnel reportedly had completed a successful inspection of a merchant ship around 10:30 a.m. local time when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters.

The capture comes as the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on a new resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its controversial nuclear activities -- meaning it probably represents an Iranian attempt to underscore its resolve in the face of mounting international pressure. The incident also could complicate U.S.-Iranian negotiations on Iraq.

By capturing the British personnel, the Iranians are likely signaling that they are not about to be intimidated by the impending resolution the U.N. Security Council regarding Tehran's nuclear activities. The international body will vote March 24 on the resolution, which would slap additional sanctions on Iran, and is expected to pass.

The precise location of the incident remains unclear, though some reports indicate it may have taken place on the Shatt al Arab, a narrow waterway that empties into the Persian Gulf. The HMS Cornwall, the British navy frigate from which the British marines operated, would most likely have been too far away to intervene if the inspection actually took place in the waterway.






The Shatt al Arab lies between Iraq and Iran; its boundaries are often disputed by both countries. During the operation, the Cornwall would have been keeping tabs on every vessel in the vicinity. At the first sign of trouble, it would have sought to aid the boarding party. The Cornwall would have not been able to intervene in the narrow, shallow waters of the Shatt al Arab, however. Similarly, its Sea King helicopter would not have been able to do much more than observe as the Iranians escorted the British boats to Iranian territory.

This incident is similar to one in June 2004, when the Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in the Shatt al Arab seized eight British personnel and three British patrol boats being delivered to Iraqi forces. Iran claimed the boats were operating on its side of the waterway. The British personnel were released after four days, but Iran confiscated the patrol boats.

The capture of the British soldiers comes within days of the latest Iranian naval exercises in the Persian Gulf. It also comes as concerns mount in Tehran regarding U.S. moves to separate the nuclear and Iraq issues, leaving Tehran's unable to use the nuclear controversy as a bargaining chip in talks on Iraq. This, combined with concerns over developments in Iraq affecting Tehran's Iraqi Shiite allies likely pressed the clerical regime to escalate matters. Iran is also concerned that the United States is supplying Saudi Arabia with state-of-the-art naval military equipment. Meanwhile, the Arab states of the Persian Gulf said March 20 that they are planning to build two oil pipelines bypassing the Strait of Hormuz, thus depriving Iran of a chokehold on global oil shipments.

The Iranians have tried to demonstrate their ability to interdict traffic in the Persian Gulf. Just March 23, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said his country would use all its power to strike back at states threatening Iran. His remarks referred not just to physical attacks on Iran, but to efforts to isolate Iran politically and economically, too.

Most tellingly, former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's Friday sermon said that while the West can slap on additional sanctions, Iran will stand its ground. Rafsanjani, the No. 2 man in the Iranian government, generally has advised Tehran to exercise caution on both the nuclear and the Iraqi fronts. He also warned Washington that "In case the Americans enter a new scene, they will create a basic problem for themselves, for our country and for the entire region and I am confident that after some time following a tyrannical act, they will start analyzing and thinking as to where they have made a mistake."

Rafsanjani's hardened posture suggests Tehran wants to maintain its ability to exploit the nuclear card and block the U.S. move to separate the Iraqi and nuclear issues. While there has been first contact in terms of official and public dialogue between Washington and Tehran, it will be a long time before the two sides move toward some sort of accommodation on the issue, something which also explains Rafsanjani's tougher tone.

While Iran has much to gain in Iraq, it is also concerned by the splintering away of the Basra-based Fadhila party from the ruling Shiite coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA). The fracturing of the Shiite alliance hampers Tehran's ability to do business in Iraq, and Iran suspects the British, who are based in Basra, may be behind Fadhila's parting with the UIA. Going after British forces represents a low-cost operation in that the Iranians are unlikely to face any serious reprisal. And while the Iranians eventually will release the 15 British personnel, they will only do so after ensuring Tehran's message has been relayed.


Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act - http://www.cb-cda.gc.ca/info/act-e.html#rid-33409


 

tomahawk6

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I think Iran needs to pay some price for this brazen attack or else there will be more of these incidents.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/24/wiran24.xml

wiran24.gif
 

Disenchantedsailor

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This is just guesswork here but come diplomatic release or not the men the Iranians captured are a mixture ordinary sailor types and Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos, soldiers, the type that understand thier obligation to escape. I can't say for sure but there may be bloodshed yet and it might not come in the form of military action but the troops obeying thier obligation to escape.
 

midget-boyd91

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Disenchantedsailor said:
This is just guesswork here but come diplomatic release or not the men the Iranians captured are a mixture ordinary sailor types and Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos, soldiers, the type that understand thier obligation to escape. I can't say for sure but there may be bloodshed yet and it might not come in the form of military action but the troops obeying thier obligation to escape.

I'm not sure where that is coming from, but its not going to come down to a "great escape" type situation.  The diplomats are already in contact with each other and one can only imagine what the negotiations are on right at the moment... but a great escape by the Marines is not going to be happening.
This sort of thing has been happening for years, and the negotiations have almost always come through. 
 

Navy_Blue

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For those of us sailors out there who have had the pleasure of looking off to port and seeing an Iranian Patrol Boat waiting for you to make a mistake.  Or been awakened in the morning, in your rack, on 3 deck (that's at the waterline) by an Iranian P-3 buzzing your ship.  The Pussian Gulf is a diplomatic world pool and its not easy to get out of it if you make a mistake.

I'm not even in Op's but I do know from my boarding training that the magic line that separates International and Iranian (in this case Iraq and Iran) waters, ties the hands of many CO's.  In many cases the ship you want is hugging that boarder and if it crosses in your stuck. 

:cdn:
 

CrazyCanuk4536056919

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but a great escape by the Marines is not going to be happening.

I agree. And to further aggravate things, the 15 were all flown to Tehran last night. I don't think this occurred the last time sailors and marines were accosted illegally by Iran, nor do I think it happend when that P-3 landed on the Chinese island. Being taken to the countries respective capitals, I mean.

To me it seems clear that there is a Political connection, with them being taken to Tehran. The group that had abducted these service members is apprently "loosely" controlled by Iranian government. And usually operated under it's own agenda, seperate from the regular Iranian Navy.

And the games being played by Iran diplomatically are disgusting. Calling the UK ambassador to Iran to his Iranian counterparts office in Tehran to demand an explanation as to why UK service members were in Iranian waters. 
 

geo

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Disenchantedsailor said:
This is just guesswork here but come diplomatic release or not the men the Iranians captured are a mixture ordinary sailor types and Her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos, soldiers, the type that understand thier obligation to escape. I can't say for sure but there may be bloodshed yet and it might not come in the form of military action but the troops obeying thier obligation to escape.

An individual's obligation to escape?
Don't think so.
The UK and Iran are not at war, any act carried out by an escaper could constitute as criminal activity.  Killing an Iranian citzen could result in the application of Islamic law.... stoning, beheading, hands being chopped off for stealing.....

The boys might as well sit back and relax until such time as the two governments finish cleaning up another mess... this might take a while
 

tomahawk6

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The US Army had an encounter with IRG personnel inside Iraq.Six Iraqi's remain unaccounted for from this action.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070323/23iran.htm
 

CrazyCanuk4536056919

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The Iranian military questioned 15 detained British navy personnel Saturday and said they confessed to illegally entering the country's territorial waters, as Iran accused Britain of "blatant aggression."

Blatant aggression my arse. Sounds like that guy needs a kick in pants.
 

Flip

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In a single phrase, Political Obfuscation.

The Iranians are very good at muddying the waters and complicating
matters to their benefit.  This will happen again in some form.

The best outcome ? Iranians get tired of living on the edge and
get rid of their current government.
(who are hanging on by their toenails right now)

The worst case for that government, new sanctions go into place and they look like a bunch of thugs.  The best case, somebody takes a shot and then Ahmedinajahd's
government are the heroes.

I'm sure no one joins the Royal Navy to go on a mission to be captured, thereby
generating a bunch of bad press for the "enemy". Until the boarding party is
released - I guess that's the job.

( my optimistic opinion anyway )

 

tomahawk6

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I think this will be a wake up call for coalition naval forces operating in the Gulf. The Iranians detected a weakness in RN boarding party procedures and seized the moment. Its hard to believe that the IRG FAC's were not detected either by radar or by the helo operating overhead. If the frigate couldnt position itself due to shallow waters to assist their boarding party that should be cause for concern. Air support might have been called in to buzz the FAC's hoping to warn them off. Most warships carry helos for ASW and recon but I wonder if there is a way to arm them ? Not much good having an unarmed helo as overwatch.
 

Ex-Dragoon

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Considering there are a lot of inlets etc in that part of the world its very easy for a small boat to be hidden in the back clutter of the land and depending what was going on at the time who knows...I am locking this up as there is far too much speculation on whats going on. When the facts are released then it will be reopened.

As usual if you have something pertinent or viable to add beyond speculation, let me know...
 

Mike Bobbitt

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Folks,

exspy has made a well considered public request to have the thread re-opened. I'm confident we can keep the speculation and armchair generalship down to a dull roar and let this informative conversation carry on.


Cheers
Mike
 

tomahawk6

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The Iranians are going to charge the British personnel with spying !!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article1563877.ece
 
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