Friday, January 06, 2012

US Navy Rescues Iranian Fishermen Held Hostage By Pirates

In response to U.S. calls for tighter sanctions against Iran, the Iranian government has been threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Of course it's highly unlikely they would, according to various sources, considering Iran needs to transport its oil to China (one of its few remaining customers) through that narrow waterway.

"We would be committing economical suicide by closing off the Hormuz Strait," said an Iranian Oil Ministry official who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. "Oil money is our only income, so we would be spectacularly shooting ourselves in the foot by doing that."

Ahmad Bakhshayesh Ardestani, a political scientist running for parliament from the camp of clerics and commanders opposing Ahmadinejad, said it is "good politics" for Iran to respond to US threats with threats of its own.

"But our threat will not be realised," Ardestani said. "We are just responding to the US, nothing more."

And just as well, for them, that they didn't block it off, since several of our U.S. Naval warships (the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and the USS Kidd) rescued 13 Iranian fisherman who had been captured by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea.
“The Iranians and the dhow (a traditional vessel) have been released and they’re on their way back home,” said Captain John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.

Apparently a rescue team from the USS Kidd came to the aid of  the fishermen who had been held captive for more than 40 days,:

"The Al Molai had been pirated and used as a ‘mother ship’ for pirate operations throughout the Persian Gulf, according to members of the Iranian vessel’s crew."

The 15 pirates will be held on board the Stennis until decisions are made as to where and who will prosecute them.   According to Victoria Nuland of the State Department, there are more than 1,000 pirates currently being prosecuted for piracy in about 20 different countries.

Of course, there's been all the predictable chatter about this possibly helping thaw relations between the U.S. and Iran, but I doubt it.  And there probably won't be any official word of thanks. If there is any mention of the incident, it will more than likely have an anti-U.S. spin.

But you have to love the irony- the ships that Tehran told to stay out of the Hormuz Strait wound up rescuing 13 Iranian citizens.

Source: CBS, Al Arabiya

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