An excellent analysis by Walid Phares of Iran’s strategy and tactics in the current “hostage crisis”:
Since Day One of the planned operation to snatch British sailors from Iraqi waters, the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) “War Kitchen” in Tehran had already drawn multiple recipes for the following weeks and potentially months to come. Indeed the regime, reacting to rising pressures from sectors of its own population and from the American-British-led coalition, engineered an “escalating” incident. The main scenario, as projected inside the minds of the Iranian “Jihadi-cooks,” is based on one request from the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime: waste time, as much time as possible. To the mullahs and their men in power, it is crucial to win the race between rising internal pressure inspired by the political changes in the region and pressure against the Iranian-led “axis” in the region, directed at the U.S. and the U.K. initiatives in Iraq. In short, Tehran’s regime wants to crumble its enemies before they crumble it.
“Catching” a British Navy unit off the shores of Iraq — regardless of the GPS positioning of the unit — is the opening play. In ten days, Tehran has already scored one success: The UN is discussing what to do about the 15 British sailors instead of how to shut down the 15 nuclear centers in Iran. The debate has been deflected and is now in the hands of the Iranian cooks. The opening play is followed by the dramatization of the “incident.” First, the regime begins showing the captives and swings media attention between details (“were they in Iranian waters?”) and outcomes (“will they be tried?”) of the phony case. Another psychological victory is scored: The international press follows the Iranian maestro’s gesticulations. As usual with the Western mainstream media, the story’s details become the devil, and their readers are denied the big picture. Here is how the mullahs’ “psych-war” develops and could evolve in different directions.
Worth reading in full, as is this previous column by Phares on the same topic.