Ahmadinejad has announced his “gift” of releasing the 15 British hostages. But somehow, amid all the hand waving and celebrating, they are still in Tehran — and instead of flying out on the day of their release, they are now expected to leave Thursday. So why the holdup?
Maybe Ahmadinejad wants to have his tailors whip up a few more suits for the departing sailors, or maybe he had to fill out a whole stack of Iranian hostage-crisis paperwork — But whatever the official reasons, here’s the effect:
The news is breaking today, and officials in London and Washington, along with the families, friends and colleagues of the hostages, are being asked to comment right now. The hostages are, in theory, free. But as long as they are still in Iran, there has to be that lingering worry about uttering anything that might cause a hitch — anything truly blunt, honest and potentially disagreeable to those twitchy, terrorist-backing kidnappers ruling Iran. And so, instead of complete howling outrage from the Free World – which is what we ought to be hearing — this episode is now subsiding into a welter of cautious thanks and gratified comments. That’s what the record will now show. This is a hostage-politics coda that already sounds like prelude to the next crisis.