February 07, 2007


Jules Crittenden has a post up this morning called Hardball, Anyone?, in which he posits that the Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Baghdad may be an example of the U.S playing hardball by snatching a "diplomat" that is actually an Iranian intelligence agent fomenting sectarian violence.

Plausible? Certainly, and an interesting theory. The Iranians, of course, are alleging exactly that. But quite frankly it doesn't sound like our modus operandi.

We've captured Iranian operatives before--we're currently holding five right now--and our soldiers were in U.S. uniforms when they made their raids on a fixed location.

This diplomat--and I doubt very much he was a diplomat--was snatched from his car in a very crude ambush, where tow cars blocked his path, engaged his guards in a brief firefight, snatched him, and sped away. Four suspects in one car were captured by Iraqi police, only to be apparently set free by Iraqi government officials the next day.

Could this be a simple kidnapping? That government officials allegedly ordered the release of four of the suspects suggests that it was not. This looks like an Iraqi operation, or at least an operation executed by Iraqis.

The question seems to be whether or not this an unsanctioned action by a rogue element of the Iraqi government, a directed clandestine action by the Iraqi government, or if this was an Iraqi operation on behalf of the United States. Quite frankly, we don't know, but the last seems the least plausible. When we want to arrest Iranian "diplomats," we simply do it, out in the open, as we did with the five already in custody. Why risk someone else screwing it up?

I suspect this is an Iraqi operation, one designed to send a message about Iran's meddling in Iraqi affairs. The only question in my mind is whether this operation was cleared from Nori- al-Maliki's office, or whether this action was autonomously conducted by other elements of the Iraqi government.

Either way, I'm sure the message sent to Tehran was received loud and clear. It only remains to be seen if the diplomat ever turns back up, and what the Iranian response may be.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at February 7, 2007 09:33 AM