Saturday, March 24, 2007

What is going on? 15 British soldiers captured by Iran

OK, 15 British naval soldiers were captured by Iran. Iran claims that they were committing agression in Iranian waters, and that they confessed to being in Iranian waters. Britain disputes this, claiming they were in Iraqi waters.

What is going on here? Is this an Iranian provocation? A misunderstanding behind which Iran has decided to stand to score "defying the imperialists" points? Is this a case of one Iranian faction acting out of line, or did this come from the top (and when I say "the top", I mean the Supreme Leader Khamenei, not President Ahmadinejad whom everyone's been obsessing about recently. The Iranian president doesn't control the military.) Were the British in fact provoking Iran? Why would they do that? The facts we know so far could support all different kinds of scenarios.

Could this be the explanation:
The sailors, taken at gunpoint Friday by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Al Quds soldiers were captured intentionally and are to be used as bargaining chips to be used for the release of five Iranians who were arrested at the Iranian consul in Irbil, Iraq by US troops, an Iranian official told the daily paper Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday.
Apparently, there's some dispute as to where the border between Iraqi and Iranian waters is in this area:
"The problem is that nobody knows where the border is," Potter said. "The British might have thought they were on their side, the Iranians might have thought they were on their side."
I'm going to try to dig more on this.

Juan Cole:
There is speculation that the Iranian action is related to Saturday's expected vote at the United Nations Security Council on imposing sanctions on Iran because it declines to halt its uranium enrichment attempts.
Apparently, something like this has happened before:

"This may well be a misunderstanding. We're certainly treating it as such at the moment. We're looking for the mistake to be corrected," a British government source said.

It mirrored a similar event in 2004 when Iran seized eight British servicemen in the narrow waterway that separates Iran from Iraq and held them for three nights.

Then, as now, the Iranians accused the British of straying into Iranian waters, a charge Britain rejected.


Blogger grishnash said...

This border has been uncertain for centuries. As this is the exit point to the Gulf for the major navigable river systems of Iraq and Iran, it has always been a very strategically important location.

The current internationally recognized border between Iraq and Iran is the centerline of the river, as demarcated on March 6, 1975 via the Algiers Accord between Iraq and Iran. This was repudiated by Saddam Hussein who claimed the entire waterway, thus sparking the Iran-Iraq War, but at the end of that war, the Algiers border was again recognized.

The problem to modern navigators is that this part of the river system carries huge amounts of silt from the Tigris, Euphrates, and Karun River systems. As silt is deposited and eroded away, the river, and thus its centerline is constantly shifting from year to year.

11:49 PM, March 24, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think an act of war has been commited by iran and the british have an absolute right to attack and destroy a nation who obviously trying to start one.If the brits do not it is only a matter of time before isreal does.I am talking about a nation of homicidle maniacs whose ultimate goal is to destroy isreal and the west at any cost

12:14 AM, March 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The capture of the British soldiers by Iran is nothing more than just another terrorist act. Until we have some men stand up in Washington and do the right thing, we are going to faced with more and more of these types of acts. Right now the Middle East knows that Washington is full of spineless politicians that could in no way protect themselves much less an entire country. We need a complete new set of political LEADERS and not just people following a political script.

10:15 PM, March 28, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since you have expressed the wish to dig deeper into this event, this link is most interesting. It is well illustrated and linked to source material:

Good Reading

7:47 AM, April 07, 2007  

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