28 March 2007

15 Captured Sailors Red Herring

At last in the British media, I find a reference (in The Daily Record) to what probably sparked and lies behind this whole episode: "Some in Iran have called for the 15 to be held until the release of Iranian diplomats and at least five Iranians detained by US forces in Iraq for allegedly being part of a Revolutionary Guard force there."

EVENING UPDATE: Some have asked for more on this story. Conveniently, Pepe Escobar has just provided it at Asia Times Online. You can find news of the original arrest of the Iranians at Reuters. Pepe Escobar concludes:

Tactically, as a backgammon or, better yet, chess move - in which Iranians excel - the Shatt-al-Arab incident may be much more clever than it appears. Oil is establishing itself well above US$60 a barrel as a result of the incident, and that's good for Iran. It's true that from London's point of view, the incident could have been arranged as a provocation, part of a mischievous plan to escalate the conflict with Iran and turn Western and possibly world public opinion against the regime.

But from Tehran's point of view, for all purposes British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a soft target. The episode has the potential to paralyze both President George W Bush and Blair. Neither can use the incident to start a war with Iran, although Blair has warned that his government is prepared to move to "a different phase" if Iran does not quickly release the sailors.

If the Tehran leadership decides to drag out the proceedings, the Shi'ites in southern Iraq, already exasperated by the British (as they were in the 1920s), may take the hint and accelerate a confrontation. Strands of the Shi'ite resistance may start merging with strands of the Sunni resistance (that's what Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has wanted all along). And this would prove once again that you don't need nuclear weapons when you excel at playing chess.


Steve said...

BBC says "Mrs Beckett said that Iran had assured her that there was no linkage to other events, including presumably the detention of five Iranian officials by American forces in Iraq not long ago." Yeah, right.

Indie Jones said...

'Gunboat diplomacy is a thing of the past, even if we could find a spare gunboat, and for all the public pretence of "ratcheting up the heat" on the Iranians, they need to be handled with the softest of kid gloves, and cajoled into behaving by a coalition of international trading partners sympathetic to the plight of the sailors. For the days when Britain had the stature, self-confidence and fa├žade of moral authority to play sergeant to the US chief inspector on the global stage are over, and the villains know it.

This is the legacy of Iraq, and if the posturing of the Iranians leaves Mr Blair's successors in less doubt than ever about that, the ordeal of Leading Seaman Turney and her 14 colleagues will not have been in vain.' (From today's Independent: We've lost the authority to lecture Iran)

UzAnon said...

Russian TV is saying America will bomb Iran this Friday (6th April). This follows a report at the end of last week in RIA Novosti quoting Russian intelligence sources that US forces stationed in the Persian Gulf have nearly completed preparations for a missile strike against approximately 20 Iranian targets. If you want to know more, google "operation Bite".

Steve said...

Join the protest to free the navy 15 this Wednesday!