First. Michael? It's Gruniad, not Guaridan.
Anyhow, the American Prospect linked to a Guardian story saying that Syria may well have convinced Iran to end the Iran/UK standoff. Which, if true, would be enormously embarrassing to a percentage of people who work in Washington that hovers somewhere around 100.
The Iranians are also claiming that the main reason this took so long was because everybody with the authority to DO anything was "out in the villages and mobile phones don't work there." Which I can also see, because bureaucracy is forever. I think it's far more likely that Ahmadinejad wasn't reigning in the Revolutionary Guard fast enough, though, because he thought that he could get some political advantage from the situation. I imagine Damascus cabling "what, are you absolutely MENTAL?" might have sharpened his perception somewhat, even if the domestic goals hadn't been met. Which they had, thanks to the confessions.
The main remaining question: "was there a deal?" Not sure. I'd say it's likely. The US/UK will never admit to it, but that doesn't mean squat. I'd keep a sharp eye on those Iranian prisoners in Iraq.
In the meantime, it looks like war just became a little less unlikely. Wingers will be screaming, but hell with 'em, this is an officially dodged bullet.