Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: After the prisoner swap, now what?

9 months ago 42

We begin today with Robin Wright of The New Yorker saying that in spite of yesterday’s prisoner swap between the United States and Iran, it is doubtful that the Iranians will discontinue the practice of taking hostages.

According to Belgian government officials, Iran currently holds at least twenty-two Europeans, including a European Union diplomat. The release of Namazi and four other Americans, as part of a prisoner swap that culminated two years of plodding diplomacy, will almost certainly not bring an end to an Iranian tactic that has spanned more than four decades and imprisoned almost a hundred U.S. citizens. “Hostage-taking keeps the zealots in power, even at the cost of Iran’s remaining an international pariah/polecat whose passport is worthless, whose currency is worthless,” John Limbert, one of the fifty-two Americans held for four hundred and forty-four days after Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, told me. Detaining foreigners is also an essential ploy in the gamesmanship among rival factions inside Iran. Limbert added, “As long as the ultra-miga (Make Iran Great Again) faction there needs to show that it’s in charge, it will continue to take actions—like hostage-taking—to discredit its political rivals, no matter the associated costs.” One of Limbert’s captors told him in 1979, “This isn’t about you; this isn’t about the Shah; this isn’t about the U.S. It’s about us. We have our internal fish to fry.” 

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