The captured Royal Navy sailors seized by Iran just returned to Britain amid all sorts of wild speculation and angry rhetoric. So what really happened? This strange incident took place on the 23rd of March when 15 Royal Navy sailors set out from the HMS Cornwall in inflatable boats to inspect a civilian vessel. Just as they were leaving the inspected ship they were ambushed by six heavily armed Iranian vessels and captured. They were taken to Tehran and some of them appeared on Iranian television admitting they were in Iranian waters when they were caught. This is the crux of the argument, the British government denies they were in Iranian waters the Iranians insist they were.
The prisoners were released after 13 days with the Iranian president claiming he´s trying to be nice. Naturally there was some sort of behind the scenes diplomatic negotiation that we will never hear the details of. They weren´t mistreated physically but since returning have told of interrogations and constant psychological pressure. Weirdly they have been criticised for saying anything, some hard case military people have expressed disgust that they said anything more while in captivity than "name, rank and serial number" and have suggested that when they saw the Iranians they should have fought to the death instead of surrendering.
It seems bizarre given the current climate that Iran would conjure up more reasons for the UK and our favourite allies the US to attack them. Iran have been condemned for pursuing their nuclear programme and increasingly linked to "insurgent" attacks in Iraq and Bush has increased the US naval presence in the area, not to mention the additional troops he sent to Iraq. You have to wonder what would have happened if the captured troops had been American. The Republican press refers to the Iranian President Ahmadinejad as the "new Hitler" because of his comments playing down the holocaust and his belief that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
In any case Ahmadinejad has tried to take advantage of the situation with his TV appearance releasing the prisoners as a "gift" to the UK and receiving their thanks publicly. The British government has evidently been pushing for a diplomatic resolution to the whole Iranian affair but you can´t help worrying events like this will push them towards supporting American military action.