Iran’s capture of 10 American sailors earlier this month is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving — for Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei awarded Iran’s highest military honor — the Fath (Victory) medal — to five Iranian commanders who captured the Americans off Farsi Island.
The ceremony shows that Iran continues to rub America’s nose in the humiliation.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei awarded the Order of Fat’h medal to the head of the navy of the Revolutionary Guards and four commanders who seized the two U.S. Navy vessels, according to Reuters. Iran’s state media reported the news on Sunday.
In a tweet sent from his account Sunday, Khamenei misidentified those who were “captured” as being members of the Marines.
On Jan. 12, Iran captured 10 sailors whose boats “misnavigated” into Iranian waters, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter. Though the sailors were released the following day, Iran released video of the sailors being captured, detained and apologizing for the incursion.
In one of the more enduring images from the video of the capture, the sailors are shown kneeling on the decks of the boats, with their hands on their heads, all while being watched by armed Iranian troops. Though U.S. officials initially sought to downplay the encounter, Carter recently said the images made him “very, very angry.”
Ash Carter is the exception to the rule in this administration, which continues to deny the U.S. was humiliated in any way or that Iran is acting in a despicable manner toward us.
And lest anyone be confused about this message, the semi-official Iranian news service, Press TV, interviewed a prominent Iranian political scientist to drive the point home:
Press TV: Well the significance, why do you think the Leader of the Revolution actually chose to award these IRGC commanders with the medals of Honor for actually dealing with the American sailors in that way?
Afrasiabi: Well I think that this was a very well-deserved honor bestowed on those Iranian guards who protect Iran’s territorial sovereignty in Persian Gulf and the incident involving two fully-armed US military boats found in Iran’s territorial waters continues to be an issue of discussion and even debate particularly in the United States and some even accuse Iran of violating international law when in fact it was those US sailors who transgressed into Iran’s territorial waters and were briefly apprehended and when it was discovered that that been there accidentally they were released.
So the Leader’s bestowing these honors on the guards I think is sending another signal to the Americans and others to respect Iran’s sovereignty and to make sure that such incidents do not occur in the future.
Press TV: And does it not highlight in general, that act, the strength of Iran? We have seen recently also an unmanned Iranian drone that took photographs actually of French and American aircraft carriers without them knowing, is it just basically showing because Iranians say time and time again that this area they will keep secure and actually they do not need any other entities in the Persian Gulf to secure the region? What message do you think these acts actually send to the Americans and others?
Afrasiabi: Well Iran is a powerful regional state that has always relied on the doctrine of self-reliance and questioning the intrusion and presence of outside forces regarding them as a source of instability rather than stability and that has been a [bone] of contention as we know between Iran and the United States for past three, four decades since the Islamic Revolution and this will likely continue in the foreseeable future as well.
Just for the record, the Iranian army is a hollow shell, the Iranian navy is a joke, the Iranian air force can’t put more than a few fighters in the air at a time because of a lack of spare parts for their ancient American and French planes, and the Revolutionary Guards may be good Muslims but have yet to be tested in battle.
All of this will change, of course, now that they have their hands on all that cash from sanctions relief. It will take many years, but eventually, Iran will be as the academic described: a “powerful regional state.”
There has been very little from the Pentagon “investigation” into the incident that led to Americans being captured and I doubt we’ll ever hear what really happened. It will remain as a black mark on the history of the U.S. Navy and an incomprehensible response to a provocation from the Obama administration.