Iranian asymmetric warfare

The British hostage crisis continues, with Tony Blair saying that if Iran doesn’t release the 15 sailors soon, he will move to a “new phase”. This sounds aggressive, but it probably only means that he will release GPS information proving that they were in Iraqi — not Iranian — waters. This could have been done in phase 1, in my opinion.

The Iranians are holding out 1) to humiliate the UK and punish them for voting for sanctions in the UN Security Council, 2) possibly to trade the sailors for Iranians (captured in Iraq) held by the US, or 3) even just to create some excitement in order to drive up the price of crude (it did go up a bit, to nearly $63 today).

The US Navy has two aircraft carriers and about 100 planes in the area, and is holding war games. This was almost certainly planned before the British sailors were captured, in part to show Iran that we are prepared to protect shipping in the gulf in the event that we attack their nuclear facilities. Of course the US will not unleash the Navy to recover a few hostages.

Keep in mind that it’s relatively certain that Ahmadinijad played a central role in the taking of 66 American hostages in 1979, most of whom were held for 444 days. So he’s an old hand at this highly effective form of asymmetric warfare.

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