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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

This dispute with Iran is becoming murkier and murkier..
Now, there are those who are asserting that the demarkation line, which was agreed upon back in 1970, which divided the Shatt al Arab in half, one being Iraqi, and the other being Iranian, may have shifted over the years because of changing coastlines..
Of course, that agreement was torn up by Saddam back in 1980, but it has been the rule by which the Royal Navy has patrolled the waterway since the deposition of the Iraqi dictator..
It remains a moot point, as to whether the Royal Navy crew which was kidnapped, was indeed within Iraqi waters, or Iranian..
But what is not moot, is the fact that the Iranians were prepared, and acted immediately upon what they claim was an 'infringement' into their territory.
This was not a routine patrol that happened upon this inspection crew.. it was an action meticulously planned and executed, with the purposefull intention of embarrasing the coalition forces in Iraq..
It may well be, that an International Court may be called in, to re-determine the division of this waterway between the two countries. And should this be the case, it is an issue that Iran should have raised some time before taking 15 Royal navy personnel prisoner, and parading them on Iranian television, while demanding a public apology from the British government..
The Iranians have overstepped their boundaries.. no pun intended..
And in fact, an apology for this incident should be forthcoming from Tehran, for taking pre-emtive action in the face of an ambiguous boundary..
If indeed the Royal Navy trespassed into Iranian waters, a simple warning would have been adequate.. the taking of prisoners is, to say the least, an overwhelmingly obvious over-reaction, with obvious diplomatic designs..
However, if the Royal Navy was within its rights, and this is the determination of an International Court, then Tehran is, to coin a phrase, behind the 8-ball.. and has lost both in the eyes of the Arab Community and the International Community both.
A calculated risk by the Iranians, to say the least, and one they may well end up on the short end of the stick because of..
Again, it begs the question..
Was it worth it?

1 comment:

Elliott said...

I agree that the issue of the maritime border is significantly less clear than the early MoD presentation made out (echoes of the "dodgy dossier"). But I think it's wrong to say that Iran will have "lost", whatever happens to resolve the border in future.

The Iranians have been in the driving seat throughout this crisis, and Britain has had nothing to offer but words and (largely unsuccessful) diplomacy. In the eyes of the Arab world, and the world in general, we have appeared weak. Even if the detainees / hostages are released tomorrow, Iran will still have won (see here).

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