International Relations have seen ping-pong diplomacy, chess diplomacy, sports diplomacy, and musical and cultural diplomacy. Now, we have the potential for “fisherman diplomacy.”
Thirteen Iranian fishermen were profoundly grateful to the US Navy today. That’s not something we see often. Somali pirates had taken over the Iranian vessel and held the crew hostage for weeks. This happened in the thick of tensions in the Persian Gulf region, with Iran holding naval exercises and threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz; and demanding that the Stennis aircraft carrier leave the region. Ironically, the very same aircraft carrier group’s forces rescued the Iranian fishermen in response to a distress call.
This development is a golden opportunity for Iran and the US to talk to each other, and in the process calm the tensions that have been building up for the last few weeks. Interestingly, during all the saber rattling, Iran has hinted at willingness to hold talks about the nuclear program. The January 7th edition of the Tehran Times reports that Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi “said at a joint press conference with (Turkish Foreign Minister) Ahmet Davutoglu in Tehran on Thursday that the Islamic Republic is also ready to resume talks with the 5+1 group (the UN Security Council members + Germany) at a time and place agreed by both sides.”
However, I could not see any mention of the fishermen’s rescue on the Tehran Times website. This is not the time to allow egos and pride get in the way of diplomacy and preventing future conflicts. Rescuing innocent hostages from pirates should be seen as a gesture of good faith. I recommend that all sides go fishing together, but not in pirate-infested waters.
NOTE: Everything I write in this blog constitutes my personal opinions and views.