By Daniel Garay
On January 12, two United States vessels with ten sailors on board were captured by Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. Navy, discovering the vessels had gone missing, located them on a pier on Farsi Island, which contains a base for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Nine men and one woman were believed to have been detained there for 16 hours.
This occurred within hours of President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address, during which Obama praised the Iran nuclear deal that would bring peace between the two countries. Opponents in the U.S. disapproved of the President’s reluctance to change the speech in deference to the ongoing situation in the Gulf.
It was not until the morning after the SOTU when the sailors were released. Due to direct lines of communication between the U.S. and Iran, the issue was resolved rather quickly and peacefully.
Later, a video released by Fars, an Iranian news agency, showed the sailors on their knees and hands over their heads. It also contained footage of the sailors being fed on the base by the Revolutionary Guard. And finally, to the disgust of many in the U.S., one of the sailors apologized for their “mistake.”
Further investigation into the matter shows, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, that the boats had made a navigational error and strayed into Iranian waters. But despite whether an error was made, many are furious at the footage of the sailors’ treatment. In a Los Angeles Times article, James Stavridis, a retired U.S. admiral, said, “The U.S. Navy would never demand Iranian sailors to hold their hands on their heads and coerce a confession of guilt or apology to be broadcast. The Iranians’ behavior in this situation was completely uncalled for.”
Candidates for the GOP presidential nomination shared this view. In a Charleston, SC debate on Thursday, the candidates showed their “willingness to go to war” if Iran did such a thing during their presidency, writes Mark Thompson of Time Magazine. Iranians would feel the “full force and fury of the United States of America,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The detention was relatively shorter than in 2007, when 15 British sailors were captured and paraded through the country, ultimately meeting then-president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and leaving for home with gifts.