Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) claims that before Iran released the US navy boats and crew they seized on Tuesday, the US apologized for crossing into Iranian waters. The IRGC’s top naval commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif had “adopted a strong and firm stance and told Kerry that they have been in Iran's territorial water and they should apologize." The IRGC commander claimed that “after they [the US] extended an apology, the decision was made to release them." The Obama administration has denied that an apology was made. Fadavi characterized the US presence in the Persian Gulf as illegitimate, stating, "certainly U.S. presence in Persian Gulf and their passage has never been innocent and we do not deem their passage as innocent.
Although Iran claimed that the incident was a result of mechanical failure, the US military has ruled out the possibility of any mechanical failure prior to Iran's seizure of the boats. According to a US official, Kerry and Zarif decided that the incident could be turned into "positive" story for the US and Iran. Matt Lee and Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press reported that since the beginning of the year, Kerry has called Zarif at least 11 times, whereas he has only consulted with top American allies once or twice. Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Iran “for their cooperation in swiftly resolving this matter,” called it a testament to diplomacy, and said “all indications suggest or tell us that our sailors were well taken care of.”
Yet Iranian state television aired footage of the moment the Iranians captured the US boats, showing the American sailors on the deck, kneeling with their hands behind their heads. Iranian state TV also aired video of a US sailor apologizing and acknowledging the US entered Iranian waters. In 2007, when Iran captured British naval personnel, former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, warned Tehran that airing footage of British navy personnel would be an unacceptable violation of the Geneva Convention which states that “prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) has called for an investigation of Iran “for possible violations of the Geneva Convention.”
Al Jazeera America, the cable news station bankrolled by the government of Qatar, announced Wednesday that it would shut down by April 30.Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language channel that has been accused by U.S. officials of being a mouthpiece for Qatari policy, founded its English-language American affiliate in 2013 after buying Current TV for $500 million from a collection of investors that included former Vice President Al Gore. The network spent millions hiring journalists and producers from channels like CNN and ABC. But the station was beset by low ratings: CNNestimated that the channel usually gets as few as 20,000 primetime viewers per day, three percent of MSNBC’s numbers and one percent of Fox News’s. The channel’s leadership told employees that its business model was “no longer sustainable,” Capital New York reported.
Al Jazeera America has been beset by controversy since its founding. The station’s CEO, Ehab Al Shihabi, was demoted last year after three female executives resigned and multiple lawsuits were filed by former employees. One suite claimed that the network treated female and non-Arab employees like “second class citizens,” and alleged that “as ratings failed to live up to the expectations of management, Al Jazeera openly decided to abandon all pretense of neutrality in favor of putting the Arabic viewpoint front and center, openly demanding that programs be aired that criticized countries such as America, Israel and Egypt.” Politico reported that another lawsuit accused a senior supervisor of having “removed female employees from projects, excluded women from emails and meetings and made discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks such as ‘whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.'”
The U.S. ambassador to Qatar wrote in a 2009 diplomatic cable, which was later released by Wikileaks, that he believed that Al Jazeera is “an informal tool of [the Government of Qatar’s] foreign policy.” Qatar also funds the terrorist group Hamas, which Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) noted when he was interviewed on Al Jazeera America during the war between Israel and Hamas last year. (via TheTower.org)