The Iran/Brit Stand-off


I’ve been thinking about the British navy personnel that have been captured and subsequently appeared on TV making a choreographed (and let’s be in no doubt about that) confession of trespassing.

What Iran has done so far is certainly no Guantanamo.  The captives aren’t being paraded on TV with sacks over their heads or in humiliating and degrading positions.  But that’s little comfort to their families.  It’s still heartless and it’s arguably against International law. 

But what motive?  (I keep flip-flopping.  What’s for sure is that we know we can’t trust any leader of any nation and that’s scary!).

Is it just a case of a defiant Iranian finger to the world…a message of bravado towards the West? 

Or could it be that they are seizing the opportunity to once again appear as the victim in order to gain sympathy and support?

Some say it’s in retaliation to the British/US military detaining Iranians in Iraq…the seized Brits could then be used as a bargaining tool to get their own soldiers back.

Could they be so nervous and edgy due to all the war-and-sanctions posturing from Washington and Europe, that they are taking no chances?

Or could the seizing of the Brits just be a genuine mistake?  Apparently, no-one knows where the water border between Iraq and Iran actually is (although the fact that Iran changed its mind over the locality of the boat reduces the credibilty of any claims of confusion on their part).  But if there’s an age-old dispute over the territorial water borders, how on earth can either side ever come to an agreement over this?

Or…maybe we’re blowing this thing way out of proportion.  British Military expert, Charles Heyman is calling the dispute a “civil case” – “a relatively minor territorial incident.”  Let’s hope so.

From the article…

“Who would it have helped if there would have been a gun battle in the straits between the Royal Navy — basically in a small rubber boat — and the Iranian Republican Guard? It wouldn’t have helped anyone. It would have sparked off something that would have given maybe some very warlike people in the world — some people who really want to have a war in that area — an excuse for going to war.”

Hmm….I wonder who he is referring to.

Let’s just hope that the media and our politicians remain calm and level-headed and act responsibly because one thing’s for sure…with George Bush and Ehud Olmert looking on, rubbing their hands in bloody anticipation, any misguided build-up of tensions might give them their war. 

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8 responses to this post.

  1. E.P.,
    I’ll be surprised if we ever find out where that boat actually was. Let’s agree, it was probably /too/ close and leave it at that. Those seaman will be fine, as long as the Brit govt. doesn’t go nuts.
    As far as the families of those soldiers being paraded on TV…. Tuff nooggies I say. Soldiers and their families sign on for this or the possibilities of things like this when they sign their lives over to the military. I’d rather see them on TV eating and remaining healthy and unharmed than not see them at all.
    Ranger

    Reply

  2. Hi Loneranger.

    Yes, I agree, if the negotiators can contain things and if the media can resist sensationalising it then it will all soon be over without incident.

    I take your point about soldiers being fully aware of what they’ve signed up for when joining the armed forces and I largely agree. But I still think it’s wrong to use people as political tools…for propaganda purposes. And that’s what the Iranians were doing in this case.

    Reply

  3. I was surprised when I read this article in news. I had to do a double take and make sure it actually said Iran, I thought it was Iraq which would have made more sense.

    Will countries and politicians ever get over this tit-for-tat games. There are human lives at stake here.

    Reply

  4. I see in 1loneranger’s blog that boundaries in waters between Iraq and Iran have not yet been officially established.

    While Iraq has not assumed its competences fully, there are going to be recurrences of situations like this. British patrolling in Iraq/Iran waters to enforce the sanctions against Iran seems to me like an invasion of territorial waters of both countries.

    1loneranger’s blog link

    http://1loneranger.wordpress.com/2007/04/01/how-to-start-a-war-by-gwynne-dyer/#comments

    Reply

  5. Latest today is that the 15 prisoners are being released by Iran. At least that is a positive news, their families will be happy.

    We will see what their version of the incident will be, although I’m very much afraid they will be isolated for a time, how is that called? Debriefing.

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  6. Yes, I heard about that Jose.

    Yes, maybe their debriefing will be agenda loaded, politically speaking.

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  7. Hi All,

    I was watching Blair’s reaction to the return of these soldiers on the boob tube this morning. No doubt there will be plenty of ‘debriefing’ and we the public will never know the true reactions and emotions of those soldiers, at least not until one writes an account of it in their own memoirs some years from now, even then…. who knows.
    What I find curious about Blair’s statement today is his insistence that the Brit govt. made no ‘deals’ with the Iranians to get these soldiers back. A Globe and Mail article last night stated that those five Iranian ‘govt officials’ being held in Baghdad by the US military are now being allowed visitation by Iranian counterpart officials. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070404.wbritiran0404/BNStory/International
    Iran is stating this news on their National airwaves, but of course we’re not hearing anything of it here. It seems to me this whole mess had nothing to do with Britain and had everything to do with Iran making a statement to the US. The Brit soldiers were just in the right place at the wrong time for Iran to take advantage of. A pretty ballsy move, on Iran’s part, if you think about it.
    These five Iranian ‘govt officials’ must have been profoundly important to the Iranian govt. I mean, to kidnap 15 British soldiers, parade them on TV and risk throwing Iran head on into this war….. Those 5 Iranians in Baghdad must be damn important dudes. I wonder who they really are. Another bit of trivia we the public will never now.
    We’re being lied to from both sides. I expect to be told misinformation from a foreign country, that’s their agenda. No big woop. But to be flat out lied to by Blair about the situation…. unacceptable.
    This whole thing was smoke and mirrors, bad theatre and trap doors. Glad they’re back on home soil, but as soon as we saw them on TV eating, smiling, we all knew they would be back. It was just a matter of time, until Iran got what it wanted, and it did. It appears that’s not what Blair will admit to his people.

    Reply

  8. Hi Loneranger.

    Well, I was watching those guys talking to the press earlier, just after their release, and they had nothing but praise for their captors.

    Both Bush and Blair would have sought to capitalise from the whole thing so I suspect that the warm words the marines had for their “captors” upon their release were very inconvenient for the two B’s.

    A total contrast to the dehumanising treatment inflicted upon George Bush’s prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, and makes their predicamant there all the more profound.

    Blair is a liar and we know from experience that we can’t trust him. And in relation to Blair’s claim that there was absolutely no deal done, how coincidental is it that a top Iranian diplomat was released from Iraq a few days ago?

    Interesting point about it all being a statement to the US. As I asked in my post, was it perhaps a finger of defiance to the West?

    And absolutely. our leaders will never be forthright with the actual truth. It’s all a game of political manouvering and spin.

    All that said, I’d like to point out, irrelevant though it may seem, that the Iranian regime is oppressive and continues to grossly violate the human rights of its own citizens. I only wish it would show as much respect towards its own people as it did to the fifteen Brits. And I’m also aware that the US and the Brits choose to support or oppose oppressive regimes as and when it fits their own agenda.

    Reply

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