That’s what Sally Buzbee, AP Middle East Editor, thinks:
Iran’s abrupt release of 15 British sailors and marines is raising hopes the country might compromise on other disputes, most notably its nuclear program.
The move points to the growing influence of pragmatic conservatives, a faction that backs Iran’s Islamic clerical leadership but is still willing to deal with the West — at least to ensure that the country is not harmed in its confrontations with the U.S. and its allies.
British media credited the breakthrough to Ali Larijani, Iran’s top foreign policy negotiator who leads its diplomatic efforts in dealing with a demand by the West for a freeze in Iranian uranium enrichment.
While a religious conservative, Larijani is seen as a pragmatist with close ties to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He and his allies, including former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are less anti-Western than Iran’s hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Sally, this had nothing to do with a more pragmatic Iran. This was an abduction intended to embarrass the West and get Iranian Quds forces out of US custody and back on Iranian soil. They attempted this back in September.
It’s a long-standing strategy of Hezbollah and Hamas to kidnap Israeli soldiers then ransom them for the release of 10 times the number of “suspected” militants. Now they are doing the same thing, except this time they’re forcing the hand of the UK to lobby Bush to release the Iranian prisoners. And release them he did. (Can’t blame Bush, really. He does owe Tony Blair a one for all the British support for the past 6 years.) The good news is we’ve had those Quds force members for a couple of months now and have probably gleaned some intel from them.
But to not see that this was not a political change by Iran but the end of a very calculated abduction and release is just idiocy, especially from someone in her position. You’d have to be insane to think the leadership of Iran is becoming more pragmatic. Sally, here’s your lighter & hairspray for your very own Aquanet Moment…. WOOOOSH!