Iran Kidnaps Hostages As ‘Diplomatic’ Tool

Once again the lawless theocrats who rule Iran have staged yet another farce involving hostage taking as a diversionary tactic, and once again the Iranian regime has been allowed to get away with another violation of international law and common decency in a twisted act of its unique form of “diplomacy.” Everyone is of course relieved that the 15 British sailors and marines who were taken hostage in Iraqi waters by members of the extremist Iranian Republican Guards have been released after 13 days of illegal captivity. The out-of-control fanatic President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had the unmitigated chutzpah to stage a “news conference” at which he kissed and presened awards to the Republican Guards who illegally kidnapped the British sailors and marines, and then announced that he was releasing the hostages as “an Easter gift to the British people.”

Even Gilbert and Sullivan in the most farcical elements of The Mikado could not have come up with a more ludicrous script than the one followed by the Iranian president, the very same Ahmedinejad who has repeatedly stated that Israel “must be wiped off the map,” and who hosted an international conference in Iran denying the Holocaust. He is now attempting to palm himself off as a generous and statesmanlike leader, or “Mahmoud the Munificent,” as The Wall Street Journal humorously described him last week in an on-the-mark editorial.

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While the entire British hostage-taking fortnight was indeed farcical, the actions of the fanatic theocratic and exremist regime and its Republican Guards are in no way amusing. It must be remembered that hostage-taking as a “tool of diplomacy” was perfected shortly after the origional Islamist regime of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah back in 1979. Iranian “students” held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The fact that the hostage crisis was allowed to drag on so long was a major factor which emboldened extremist elements in the region backed by Iran and Syria to follow that example. The Iranian Republican Guards are directly involved in training and equipping Hezbollah, the Shia terrorist group in southern Lebanon, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, both of which crossed into Israel to kidnap Israeli soldiers who are being held to this very day. As reported in these pages by Mike Sherwin in our March 28 edition, the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis in cooperation with other affiliates of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, is vigorously advocating for the captive Israeli soliders. Gilad Shalit, 20, was kidnapped by Hamas on June 25, 2006 in the Gaza Strip, and Ehud Goldwasser, 31, and Eldad Regev, 26, were kidnapped by Hezbollah forces near Israel’s border with Lebanon on July 12, 2006. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are trained, armed and backed by the Iranian Republican Guards, the same group which kidnapped the 15 British sailors and marines.

There was an encouraging international outcry for the prompt release of the British sailors and marines, which Prime Minister Tony Blair said was a factor in bringing about their release. We regret that there has not been a similar outcry demanding the release of the kidnapped Israeli solidiers who have been separated from their families for several months, in contrast to the 13 days the British troops were held captive.

The New York Times and other general media have reported that a battle is brewing among “moderate” and “extremist” elements in Iran, and that both elements have expressed alarm at the constant radical and risky actions on the part of Ahmadenijad, not the least of which is his continued defiance of the United Nations Security Council demand that his regime stop enriching uranium to transform Iran into a nuclear power.

Ahmedinejad diverted attention from international pressure over Iran’s nuclear program, through the hostage taking fiasco. British Prime Minister Tony Blair used a combination of diplomatic carrots and implied threat of military “sticks” to gain the release of the hostages. Blair stressed throughout the crisis that while he hoped diplomacy would gain the release of the captives, if that failed, other options, including military force were on the table. Blair’s calm but firm approach helped end the crisis within 13 days as opposed to the 444 days the 52 Americans were held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. The late President Theodore Roosevelt advocated a foreign policy based on the motto, “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.” Apparently that approach helped end the latest farce in Iran and gained the release of the captives. We hope that same approach will bring about the prompt release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers being held captive by Hamas and Hezbollah.