There is clearly more to this story than is being told, but even what we know establishes it as a humiliating repudiation of Obama’s Iran policies. Those who said that his nuclear deal would only embolden the Iranians and make them more aggressive and hostile than ever are being proven correct.
“Pictured: Ten U.S. sailors captured by Iran as Revolutionary Guard RELEASES them after ‘snooping’ row – including one female who was forced to wear a headscarf,” by Wills Robinson and Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail, January 13, 2016 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
These are the 10 American sailors who were captured by Iran after being accused of snooping when their boats drifted into Iranian waters – but they have now been freed.
The country’s Revolutionary Guards confirmed in a statement on state television that they had been released just a day after they were detained.
The Pentagon lost contact with two small riverine vessels in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday afternoon when they were seized by the Islamic republic’s coast guard, just hours before President Obama made his last State of the Union address.
Wearing combat fatigues and no shoes, the sailors were pictured sitting on a carpet inside a bare room. A female sailor can be seen wearing a makeshift veil she was given by the captors to cover her head.
Iranian intelligence agents are believed to have interrogated the unit for hours following the standoff that unfolded just days before the controversial nuclear agreement is set to go into force.
Republican presidential candidates were quick to jump on what happened, with frontrunner Donald Trump saying it’s ‘an indication of where the hell we’re going’.
The sailors were under detention by Iran after they were taken to a base on the island of Farsi – an area shut off to the public because of the Iranian government’s clandestine activities.
The nine men and one woman are seen without shoes sitting down in a room looking bored with some of them appearing to be asleep.
The group were captured after one of the boats reportedly suffered mechanical issues and drifted into Iranian waters.
But their release came after Iranian state media said the U.S. apologized for unintentionally drifting into occupied territory.
‘Our technical investigations showed the two U.S. Navy boats entered Iranian territorial waters inadvertently,’ the IRGC said in a statement carried by state television. ‘They were released in international waters after they apologised,’ it added.
The Navy have said they will be investigating what happened in a bid to determine why they were in that area of the Persian Gulf.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has welcomed the sailors’ release.
In a statement Wednesday, he thanked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for his ‘diplomatic engagement’ on the issue.
Carter also said: ‘Around the world, the U.S. Navy routinely provides assistance to foreign sailors in distress, and we appreciate the timely way in which this situation was resolved.’
Earlier, Iranian General Ali Fadavi said the American boats had shown ‘unprofessional acts’ for 40 minutes before being picked up by forces in the country’s territorial waters.
He said: ‘US naval force and their frigate showed an unprofessional behavior and had air and naval moves for 40 minutes in the area.
‘Certainly US presence in Persian Gulf and their passage has never been innocent and we do not deem their passage as innocent.’
Fadavi said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif ‘had a firm stance’ during a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ‘on their presence in our territorial waters and said they should not have come and should apologize.’
There had been fears that the situation may escalate after Fars news, Iran’s state media, accused the sailors of ‘snooping’.
Revolutionary Guards Navy confiscated GPS equipment, according to Fars, which would ‘prove that the American ships were ‘snooping’ around in Iranian waters.’
On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed the boats were moving near Iranian waters when the US lost contact with them.
Cook says: ‘We have been in contact with Iran and have received assurances that the crew and the vessels will be returned promptly.’
The 10 American sailors were on a training mission at the time, according to NBC News.
They then moved into territorial waters inadvertently before they were captured. The Truman Carrier Strike Group, which is in the vicinity, launched a search and rescue effort, according to the Navy Times.
Secretary of State John Kerry had reportedly been calling his Iranian counterparts to sort out the stand-off.
He has forged a personal relationship with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif through three years of nuclear negotiations.
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an NBC News military analyst, said the seizure of American boats is ‘very bad news’ and highlights how the Navy may have failed to have surveillance on their boats.
He told MSNBC: ‘We simply can’t allow ground, air or naval units to be seized by a foreign hostile power.
‘I hope they’re back real quickly. This is an affront to our military presence in the Gulf and will unsettle our allies in the region.’
Republican presidential candidates were quick to pile in, blaming President Barack Obama ahead of last night’s State of the Union address.
Trump, who accuses President Barack Obama of being weak on foreign policy, described the incident as ‘an indication of where the hell we’re going’.
Ben Carson was first to point out the unfortunate timing, saying on Twitter: ‘While Potus is preparing to talk about his so called ‘accomplishments, 10 of our American sailors are being held by Iran.
Jeb Bush followed suit, saying: ‘If our sailors aren’t coming home yet, they need to be now. No more bargaining. Obama’s humiliatingly weak Iran policy is exposed again.
Marco Rubio added: ‘Iran needs to release them and the boats immediately… Iran is testing the boundaries of our resolve.’
Iran’s armed forces chief, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, said the incident should demonstrate Iranian strength to ‘troublemakers’ in the U.S. Congress, which has sought to put pressure on Iran after the nuclear deal.
Attributing the boats’ incursion into Iranian waters to a navigation error marked a de-escalation in rhetoric.
Earlier, the Guards had said the boats were ‘snooping’ in Iranian territory and said Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had demanded an apology from Washington.
The IRGC, the Islamic Republic’s praetorian guard, is highly suspicious of U.S. military activity near Iran’s borders and many senior officers suspect Washington of pursuing regime change in Tehran.
The Guards operate land and naval units separate to the regular armed forces and stage frequent wargames in the Gulf, which separates Iran from its regional rival Saudi Arabia and a U.S. naval base in Bahrain….