Iran Releases U.S. Sailors Much To The Relief Of Americans Everywhere
Just hours before President Obama's final State of the Union address, 10 American sailors were detained by Iranian officials for allegedly drifting into the country's territorial waters while en route from Kuwait to Bahrain. On Wednesday morning, those sailors were released by the Iranian military back into the custody of the U.S. Navy. Shortly before they were released, Iran's Revolutionary Guard said that a broken navigation system caused the sailors to enter Iranian waters as they traveled south in the Persian Gulf during a training mission. Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly spoke with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who confirmed that the soldiers were being treated well.
However, the situation quickly blew into a media firestorm and malleable political angle, as conservatives took the opportunity to criticize foreign policy. "It's just an indication of where the hell we're going," Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "I mean, hopefully, they get released and fast. But it seems to be an indication of where we're going." Fellow Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson tweeted, "While POTUS is preparing to talk about his so called 'accomplishments,' 10 of our American sailors are being held by #Iran."
Obama received some backlash for leaving the tense situation out of his State of the Union address. "President Obama completely omitted this latest example of Iran's provocative behavior so as not to interfere with his delusional talking points about his dangerous nuclear deal with Iran," Sen. John McCain said in a statement released Tuesday night. But then again, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who gave the official Republican response to the SOTU speech, was also criticized for failing to mention the situation.
Just days away from getting punishing economic sanctions lifted by the U.S., the Iranian government has particular motivation to stay on America's good side. The sailors were released in under 24 hours and returned without any harm, which is good for supporters of the nuclear deal. Although there may be unforeseen consequences of this incident in the future, the swift and peaceful resolution is a strong indicator of progress for the tumultuous relationship between the U.S. and Iran.