I'll Give You Dozens of Terrorists, You Give Me One Journalist, OK?
But then Roxana Saberi was thrown into Evin Prison in Tehran, and the Obama Administration started negotiations with the mullahs. I have been told that the key office in the American Government was Vice President Joe Biden's, and that the Swiss Government (our official liaison to Tehran) played an active role. In early May, the deal was arranged: more than thirty Iranian "VIP" detainees would be released (first to the Iraqis, then to the Iranians), and then, in the fullness of time, several hundred (repeat, several hundred) others of less importance. Within days, Iraqi leader Maliki flew to Iran to work out the details. Saberi was quickly released, and the triumphal return to Iran for the Five was scheduled for shortly after the Iranian elections.
If you look back over the last two months, I think you can see the pattern. In early June, for example, the U.S. military released another high-profile terrorist who had worked closely with Iran: Laith Qazali. Bill Roggio gives us his profile:
Laith is the brother of Qais Qazali, the commander of the Qazali network, which is better known as the Asaib al Haq, or the League of the Righteous. Qais Qazali was a spokesman and senior aide to Mahdi Army leader Muqtada al Sadr. The terror group, which was part of the Mahdi Army until the spring of 2008, has received extensive financial and military support from Iran's Qods Force, the external division that backs Hezbollah and is tasked with supporting the Khomeinist Islamist revolution.
On the occasion of Qazali's release, the United States government did not spread its arms and say "what could we do? It's part of the deal," they described it "as part of a reconciliation effort" as well as an attempt to secure the release of captive British hostages, according to a report in The New York Times," as Roggio wrote.
The British hostages are yet another complicating factor. The Iranians held five of them, civilian workers rounded up in Iraq. The Iranians demanded the release of some of their terrorists in Guantanamo, and various other humiliating acts by the British Government, including, at last report, public endorsement of Ahmadinezhad's "reelection." As the negotiations played out, the Brits made a series of gestures to Hezbollah, and asked us to release various Iranian prisoners, from Guantanamo to Iraq (Qazali apparently being one such). Last time I checked, two of the unfortunate British souls turned up dead. Perhaps the failure to accept Iranian conditions explains the recent vitriol against the British government.
But at least some powerful Iranians have found some nice words for the American government, although others continue the "Death to America!" chant so typical of the regime. And what were those nice words? A description of American surrender to Iran's nuclear intentions:
"America accepts a nuclear Iran, but Britain and France cannot stand a nuclear Iran," Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister, said in an interview on state television on Wednesday.
Why would Velayati, one of the nastiest characters in the cabal around Supreme Leader Khamenei, say such a thing? My guess is that American acceptance was wigwagged to the Iranians during the Saberi negotiations by an authoritative administration personage.
All of these humiliating concessions have been made in the name of the need for serious talks between Washington and Tehran. But if Velayati is telling the truth, we've already given away the whole store. If there are going to be further talks, they will be of the sort we've seen in recent days with the Russians: fluff and circumstance.
As I've often said, God has an exquisite sense of humor, and it would certainly be delicious, and perhaps even Divine, if the mullahcracy were to fall just as its vision of bringing America to her knees seemed about to be fulfilled. In case you missed it, Iran's highest-ranking clerical leader, the Ayatollah Montazeri, just issued a fatwa that declares the current regime illegitimate, and tells the Iranian people that they are entitled to remove it.
I am told by people who study these documents that the Montazeri fatwa is virtually identical to the one issued by his one-time mentor, the Ayatollah Khomeini, shortly before the overthrow of the shah. They are words with teeth, and there are many Iranians who will act on them.
Hell, there's millions of Iranians trying to overthrow the regime right now, they didn't need the fatwa.
Faster, Please! Please...