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Wednesday, April 04, 2007 

Scum-watch: Reverse ferret over the evil Ayatollahs.

There's a fascinating about face in today's Sun editorial. From previously fulminating about "Sick Mullahs" and "evil Ayatollahs" who had "insulted the whole world" and demanding an apology, as well as saying that satellites showed their boats were in Iraqi waters, the Sun toned the rhetoric right down:

THE disputed waterways of the Arabian Gulf flow across constantly shifting sands.

Frontiers are hotly contested and impossible to verify.

Much like the diplomatic wrangling over the 15 British hostages grabbed by Tehran’s Republican Guard.

Both sides could be right — or wrong — by just half a nautical mile.

But Iran is not keen to raise the international temperature by staging a show trial. And we can’t even consider military action to free our personnel.

So let’s accept these are muddied waters where mistakes can be made.

And bring those servicemen home in time for Easter.

Now, this could simply be down to the encouraging signs which emerged late last night following contact with Iran's chief negotiator, Dr Ali Larijani. Craig Murray, who almost singlehandedly challenged the spin from Blair and co that the arrests most definitely took place in Iraqi waters, noted yesterday that the FCO was coming round to this view, probably as an attempt to bring the crisis to an end through compromise.

Even so, the tone of the Sun leader seems remarkably different, almost confident that there definitely was going to be movement today. Could it be possible that Downing Street knew last night that their release today was almost certain -- and briefed the Sun but told them not to go, err, overboard? Stranger things have happened.

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