Secretary of State John Kerry relied on his “personal relationship” with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif , placing a call after Iran took 10 U.S. Navy sailors prisoner yesterday.
Revolutionary Guard navy chief Gen. Ali Fadavi released a statement after releasing the sailors.
Fadavi said the American boats had shown “unprofessional acts” for 40 minutes before being picked up by Iranian forces after entering the country’s territorial waters. He said Tehran did not consider the U.S. Navy boats violating Iranian territorial waters as an “innocent passage.”
The sailors were nonetheless allowed to make contact with the U.S. military, based on Iran’s “responsibilities and Islamic mercy” late Tuesday, he said.
Fadavi acknowledged Kerry’s call, and said Zarif had a “firm stance” on the phone, telling our Secretary of State “they should not have come and should apologize.”
Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter thanked Kerry for helping out, but in reality that wasn’t needed. We have no diplomatic relations with Iran. That phone call between two top diplomats may as well have taken place on Mars for all the good it could do.
Iran still has to hold to international law that permits military vessels to conduct “innocent passage,” although they deny that the U.S. boats were operating in that manner. Article 18 of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea gives vessels in distress automatic protection as “innocent passage.” There was no need for Kerry to intervene; Iran had to release the sailors or face serious consequences from the international community.
This is akin to a police officer pulling behind my wife’s car because she pulled off the interstate with engine trouble, and me calling the chief of police to ensure he didn’t give her a ticket: A superfloous and ostentatious intervention with no real purpose.
All Kerry did was allow Iran to score another point in its propaganda effort to shame America.