3/30/2007

What about if Iran is right ?

Despite the furore, and in spite of the distasteful way the Iranians have treated the UK service personnel after their capture, there is, in my mind, the small but growing thought that perhaps the Iranians could be telling the truth.

The video today showing the capture of the Marines and Royal Navy personnel shows that far from being planned by Iran as some sort of "honey trap" as the MOD claimed a few days ago, the Iranians were just as surprised as anyone.

Although the MOD have provided GPS data, so have the Iranians and whilst I wouldn't want to believe the Iranians over the UK, we have to remember that the MOD provided a large amount of propaganda and duff information before, during and after the Iraq war. I'm not sure we can trust them in the same way as I don't think anyone believes anything the government tell us these days.

Perhaps, just perhaps the UK forces were 500 meters over the border ? Couldn't it have happened ? If it did, wouldn't you be angry if you were Iranian ?

The big question was, for me, why didn't the British forces in the boats have close air support ? A helicopter was near (and shown by Iranian TV) but too far away to do anything. Also, why was it that on a day when the MOD and the government were claiming that the Iranians were paying Shia militants in Basra , didn't anyone think that the Iranians would take any opportunity to turn the tables on the UK and get one up on us ?

It is clear the rules of engagement for UK naval forces needs to be reviewed. UK patrol boats need helicopter and other air support, the Royal Navy Frigate itself needs to get much closer to provide proper firepower in support and the Navy needs to be awake to the news agenda, not giving the Iranians any excuse at all.

All in all, there are too many questions un answered. the only thing I know is that whether the UK forces crossed the lie in to Iranian waters or not, the Iranian government has no excuse for parading them on TV and has no excuse for not releasing them as soon as possible.

2 comments:

Joe Otten said...

All governments are capable of lying and provocation, and all have elements among them who will take opportunities for provocation even when that doesn't appear to be in that country's interest. So I agree it is hard for us to know who is telling the truth.

However there are two further points I heard on a radio interview. 1. That there is in fact no agreed sea border as far as Iran is concerned. 2. That there is no right of arrest in international law for foreign boats that have strayed into your water - rather they should be asked or warned to leave.

These do seem to suggest that Iran is in the wrong, claiming unrecognised territory and acting disproportionately.

Tom Papworth said...

I find it hard to imagine why the Iranian Revolutionary Guards would take a film crew out with them under normal circumstances. They were at the very least looking for trouble.

A few points of clarification. The boats did have close air support, but when the merchant vessel they boarded proved to be operating legitimately, it was withdrawn as they perceived no threat. This was a bit of a blunder, it turns out, but understandable.

The reason the frigate couldn’t get closer was because the area is too shallow for a vessel with that much displacement.

What I don’t understand is why the Indian captain of the merchant vessel hasn’t spoken out. He must have a pretty clear view of his co-ordinates and whether he was in Iraqi or Iranian waters.

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