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Thursday, April 05, 2007 

Carry on regardless.

The bizarre futility of the continued British presence is southern Iraq could not have been more obvious when the release of the 15 sailors held by Iran is compared with the pointless death of 4 more soldiers. After close to two weeks of posturing, including taking the matter to the UN Security Council, it was quiet diplomacy rather than threats or sanctions that freed the soldiers.

Whether a deal was in someone done we may never know, but it seems more than a coincidence that the "Irbil 5" have apparently been given access to an envoy from the Iranian embassay, as well as howa an Iranian diplomat mysteriously kidnapped by gunmen in Iraqi government uniforms (which would suggest either it was at the request of the US or by insurgents in disguise, with the release of the diplomat making the latter unlikely) was released a day earlier. This makes Blair's talk of "no negotiations" look silly, as it does Bush's suggestion that there would be "no quid pro quo", as movement on the "Irbil 5" would have been impossible without express US approval.

The whole capture of the soldiers has turned out to be nothing more than an extended game, one which Iran has more than convincingly won. When a quick climb-down, however humiliating it may have been in the short term could have freed them shortly after the beginning of their "mandatory vacation", we instead had to sit back and endure two weeks of inept pointlessness, the soldiers themselves patiently playing along with what they were told to do by the Iranians. Only Faye Turney during the experience looked uncomfortable, and she was undoubtedly the one who was used and abused the most, but little more than the UK press themselves did, their mock concern as vomit-inducing as the letters that had been dictated to her. She'll also be glad to read now she's home a pathetic little rant in the Sunday Moron from Carole Malone who chastised her like a true feminist for daring to leave her 3-year-old daughter with her partner while she went off to war.

Ahmadinejad was the one who was left looking magnanimous. Meeting the soldiers themselves was a masterstroke, their joy at being let go apparent, again playing along with the narrative that the Iranians had been weaving from the beginning, joking along with him, whatever was really going through their heads.

It was only to be expected that once the troops were safely home that we could get back into the usual routine of blaming them for everything and anything, whether there's any evidence or not. It doesn't seem to matter that it's just as likely that the insurgents are using US or Israeli made weapons: that, after all, shows that the free market's working. Instead we're left with the images of tyrants, the uncivilised world and the biggest threat to world peace letting their booty go, while the free, democratic Iraq spirals ever more into the mire.

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