Wednesday, July 15, 2009

US Held Iranians Hostage

"Three members of Iran's elite Quds Force who were seized in Iraq by the United States were held for more than two years even though they had not been involved in anti-U.S. activities and were functioning as diplomats at the time, a former and a currently serving senior U.S. official said Tuesday."

The Washington Times ran an exclusive news report today, stating US officials claim that the Iranians just released were held hostage by US. Iran claims they were diplomant, while the US claims they were terrorists. The US also states they have no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Iranians, who worked issuing visas at Iran's consulate in Northern Iraq.

"Both Iran and Iraq protested the arrests and prolonged detentions, which attracted worldwide attention. The Quds or Jerusalem Force is an elite unit in Iran's military and intelligence establishment. Many of its officials and veterans serve in top Iranian government positions.

U.S. officials have repeatedly suggested since the arrests that the three Iranians had been directly involved in support of anti-U.S. violence in Iraq but provided no specific evidence. The three were never charged with any wrongdoing.

Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a spokesman for U.S.-led Multinational Forces in Iraq, which was responsible for the arrests and detentions of the three, declined to comment Tuesday on the reason the men were held for so long. "

There is much speculation as to why the diplomats were released.

"We had feared such a deal was in the works. On April 22, we noted in these pages that "the Iranian government is maneuvering to trade Ms. Saberi's freedom for that of five Revolutionary Guards captured by U.S. forces while training insurgents in Iraq."

The same day that Iran's chief judge, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered a "quick and fair" appeal for Ms. Saberi, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz and called for the immediate release of the "Irbil Five." This was a clear diplomatic signal of a potential deal."

"There is a whiff of "arms for hostages" in the air. It would be a mistake to reprise that failed attempt by the Reagan administration to curry favor with Iran in the mid-1980s by sending weapons in hopes Tehran would release U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon.

The opening did not improve U.S.-Iranian relations, and President Reagan later admitted it was a mistake. In 1987, E.J. Dionne, writing in the New York Times, quoted then-Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. as saying that Mr. Reagan had been "blinded by the illusion" that there was "an easy solution" to the hostage crisis and had been misled "by people who had no competence in the area of foreign policy." Ironically, Iran expert Michael Ledeen reports that the deal for the release of the Irbil Five was coordinated through Vice President Biden's office."

The US State department denies any "deals" and claims the hostages diplomate, or detainees, held for 2 1/2 years without any charges were released in accord with the US - Iraqi accord signed on Jan 1st of this year. Why it took 7 months for their release, and why they are being released at this time remains unclear, as the Obama administration is not being transparent on this affair.

"The State Department said the handover was not linked to the Obama administration’s effort to engage the regime in Tehran, but that it was an obligation contained in a U.S.-Iraq security agreement that came into effect on January 1."

"Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said earlier that the transfer could help improve dialogue between the U.S. and Iran after a long adversarial relationship.

Iran and Iraq have enjoyed better relations after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 toppled the government of Saddam Hussein, who launched an eight-year war against Iran in the early 1980s.

Many current Iraqi leaders were in exile in Iran and still have close ties with the Islamic Republic.

The release of the five has been portrayed in Iran as a victory at a time when the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under domestic and international criticism after the disputed June 12 presidential election and the ensuing government crackdown on protests"

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