Former Ambassador and founder of the Montana World Affairs Council, Mark Johnson, is alarmed over the seizure of 10 U.S. sailors by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Johnson, who spent over 30 years in the Middle East serving as an ambassador and a state department official, told KGVO News that the seizure of the U.S. sailors is ominous.

"I don't think the sailors themselves are being physically harmed, but the ship is being stripped clean," Johnson said. "The reason the sailors can't communicate with their countrymen is because all their equipment has been seized. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy is the most hostile and anti-American of all the branches of the Revolutionary Guard."

Johnson said he believes the timing of the seizure was not random.

"The hard-liners wanted to embarrass and humiliate the administration, especially on Obama's big night of the State of the Union speech," he said. "It's a pivotal moment for this administration. Recall what the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran did for Jimmy Carter. The consequences could be very severe for the administration if they don't get out ahead of this. The administration had better stiffen its rhetoric They have received assurances that these sailors will be released. That word came through the Foreign Ministry, the weakest of the country's institutions."

Johnson said there is a Washington Post correspondent who has been held in Iran for over 500 days. He said the Iranian Foreign Ministry promised his return as well, but were powerless to effect  Jason Rezaian's release.