Over the last few years, quite a few members of Iran’s elite Quds forces have been captured in Iraq. They may have not been actively involved in killing Americans, but it’s been unquestionably established that, at the least, they have supported Iraqi insurgents and terrorists. They have provided training, materials, advice, intelligence, and miscellaneous forms of assistance to terrorist activities.
The Iranians are not overly eager to repatriate these troops. The incident would lead to awkward questions and even more awkward answers — covertly sending those forces to destabilize Iraq could be considered an act of war. Even if Iran disowned these troops and insisted they were acting independently of the Iranian government, and if the U.S., due to diplomatic considerations, decided not to challenge such a claim, the captured Quds forces could at least be treated as ordinary terrorists or criminals.
But the Obama administration has already figured out how to deal with them — hand them over to Iraq as a prelude to quietly sending them home.
In most cases, such action would be accompanied by some sort of reciprocal concession from Iran. In exchange for its troops, Iran could pull back all of its stealth forces in Iraq, release some politcal prisoners, or in some other way offer a quo in return for our quid.
But that’s not the “new” diplomacy. That’s not “smart power.”
Apparently, we are returning the Iranians we caught — “fair and square” — as a goodwill gesture. Perhaps Iran will now, in exchange, stop blaming us for the orchestration of massive protests by its own citizens, rebelling against the result of rigged elections. Perhaps now Iran will halt its nuclear program. Perhaps the mullahs will see the error of their ways and stop supporting terrorist cells across the Middle East, such as Hamas in the Palestinian territories, or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Perhaps,.. perhaps,.. perhaps. Is Obama holding his breath?