I was pleased to comment in a piece for i Newspaper on Jamshid Sharmahd, a German citizen and long-time US resident, who was left out of the hostage deal which brought home five Americans from Iran.
Deals to release entirely innocent westerners held hostage by countries like Iran are not without their controversy – but without them, these people simply would not come home.
Diplomacy doesn’t work with Iran – it has no interest in international laws and norms of behaviour. And yet, evidence from several foreign ministers to the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee shows that they go through the diplomatic motions year after year, each time with the same negative outcome. It’s not until pragmatism wins that out citizens come home.
Ultimately, we need to find a way of stopping this crime. That’s no easy task. Thankfully, some of the brightest minds on state hostage taking have come together at CSIS, which has convened a Commission on Hostage Taking a Wrongful Detention, in search of policy solutions. And a new report from the Soufan Center offers some ideas. We are finally talking about a crime that has been hidden in plain sight for too long. I just hope politicians and policy makers are ready to take some brave and bold decisions to end this crime once and for all.