This must be tentatively good news from Iraq, no? Money quote:
The pending release of the Iranians may reflect American approval of some signs that Iran is cooperating with the United States’ demand that it stanch the flow of materials into Iraq used to make deadly roadside bombs known as explosively formed projectiles, or E.F.P.’s.
Admiral Smith said that the E.F.P. components found recently during raids “do not appear to have arrived here in Iraq after those pledges were made,” suggesting that Iran has limited trafficking of the weapon parts across the border after promising to do so.
American commanders have stopped short of declaring that Iran has in fact complied with the United States’ demands, and Admiral Smith on Tuesday described the plan to release nine Iranian prisoners not as a diplomatic reward, but rather as the perfunctory end to a criminal investigation.
Any sign that some elements in Tehran are prepared to cooperate on security in Iraq is surely a good thing. I don't know why they're doing this. Fear of Cheney? Fear of chaos next door? Fear of the Iranian people? It's also encouraging that Turkey seems to be easing off its threats of incursion into northern Iraq. This NYT piece suggests that economic growth and cross-border investment is restraining belligerence between the Kurds and the Turks. This was ultimately key to calming the Irish conflict. Know hope.