All 2 entries tagged Iran

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March 30, 2007

What if we were in Iranian waters?

I probably won’t make myself popular for saying this… But what if the British sailors were in Iranian waters?

I’ve been troubled by some of the Foreign Office language, which is vague enough to leave room for admitting they were wrong. For instance, we’ve heard about the exact spot where the sailors were captured. But we’ve not been shown the line that they took before that. What if they accidentally went into Iranian waters, then returned to Iraqi waters, and were then captured. Essentially, both the British and the Iranians would be in the wrong. The Britons for having been in Iranian waters, and the Iranians for having gone into Iraqi waters to detain them.

If what we’ve heard is true, the Iranians were in the wrong because they should have shepherded the sailors out of their waters – there is no need for them to have been detained under maritime law.

Compare a British news report with one on an international news website. There is often a subtle difference in language. The British media take MoD statements as fact, while there’s more emphasis on ”...the MoD claim that the sailors were in Iraqi waters…” in international reporting.

My concern is that we’re only hearing half of the story. This is largely because the Iranian regime is disfunctional, secretive and has a lot to hide. But I wonder whether the vacuum of information from the other side means that we’re getting information which isn’t as high-quality as we’re led to believe.

Would our media ever decide something the Iranians said was correct and that something the MoD said was incorrect? It seems very unlikely.

We, understandably, want our sailors back. The MoD, understandably, would never want to admit that they made a mistake in relation to Iran. Foreign relations are too sensitive to give them any ground on such an international stage.

And the Iranians have, for sure, acted wrongly by detaining the fifteen, putting two of them on television, making them read admissions of guilt and denying consular access.

But what if we did cock up? Would we ever find out the truth?


July 29, 2006

Should've seen it coming?

"Iran is omnipresent in Lebanon, not only with Hezbollah," said Ridwan al–Sayyid, an adviser to the prime minister and a professor of Islamic studies at Lebanese University. "They are strong, not like Syria, but they shape their presence in different ways. They are helping many, many organizations — Sunnis, Shias and Christians. They are benevolent." (March 2006)

"If there is an Iranian–American clash, it will be played out here," Ahmed Fatfat, the acting Lebanese interior minister (March 2006)

“Tehran and Damascus have strong incentives to turn Lebanon into a battleground to deflect attention from their own problems.” (Washington Times, February 2006)

Or a bolt out of the blue?

"There is without any doubt a growing Iranian influence not only in Lebanon but in the whole region," said Nassib Lahoud, a Maronite Christian who is a former ambassador to the United States and a legislator. "We are trying to build normal relations with everyone, and we refuse to turn Lebanon into a battlefield for regional and international powers." (March 2006)

"In the power vacuum left by the sudden withdrawal of Israeli troops and the flight of many of their allies in the South Lebanon Army, Hezbollah has started to operate in the south much as it does in the rest of Lebanon, as a kind of parallel government offering social services, development loans and reconstruction aid. Although it is still considered by the United States and other nations to be a terrorist group that bombed embassies and kidnapped Westerners in the 1980's with the help of radical patrons in Iran and Syria, Hezbollah has developed a different image in Lebanon… Sheik Nasrallah, who does not hold a government or parliamentary post, has acted deferential toward the official government, saying his organization has no intention of setting up a parallel or competing structure in the south." (NY Times, May 2000)


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