Saturday, March 31, 2007

The "Stand-Off"

As most of you probably know (unless you have been able to ween yourself off of crappy American media, in which case I applaud you), 15 members of the British armed forces were taken into custody by Iranian armed forces. That is the only thing that the two sides agree on. The British crew was searching a cargo ship in the Persian Gulf when they were apprehended for what Tehran is calling a violation for trespassing in Iranian waters. London has maintained that its sailors were in Iraqi waters when the search took place. Now the 15 British sailors are being held in an undisclosed location until the two sides can agree on a deal for release. Both countries have claimed that the sailors were in different parts of the Gulf when captured and both have come out with evidence to prove this, but of course anyone could fabricate this information and there is no way to tell who is telling the truth in those respects.

An interesting aspect of this case is the declaration by Tehran that if London simply apologizes and admits that they made a mistake, the whole issue can be settled. Additionally President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad of Iran has continued to criticize the way that the British are handling the situation. This point I can't really disagree with. Had London just apologized at the beginning of this situation, this "stand-off" (the media's poor word choice, not mine) could have been avoided. Instead, the British government reacted in a manner that was perceived as threatening by the Iranian government, including calling for increased pressure against the Middle Eastern country on the same day that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki stated that the sole female of the group, Faye Turney, would be released in the coming days. So instead of releasing her, Iran is keeping her in custody as of now because of what they call London's "incorrect attitude." Obviously George W. Bush - the foremost leading expert on how to piss of an entire country/people - came out to give the world his two cents. He called the prisoners "hostages," which of course helps to deescalate the situation, and has stepped up America's visible force in the region in what, as the New York Times reported on March 27, Washington has called "part of a broader strategy to contain Iranian power in the region." One caveat to President Bush: Iraq was supposed to be a breeze, and the Republican Guard was easy to take down, but now it is painfully - and fatally - obvious that we have lost control in Iraq. Iran is not going to be a pushover like Iraq was and Ahmadenijad is a stronger leader than Hussein was, as he has not gassed his ethnic minority anytime recently and has been popularly elected.

All of this being said, however, Iran has done some things that have been questionable. First of all, the holding of the prisoners. While I do not doubt that they are being treated decently (Tehran has nothing to gain from treating these prisoners poorly and they know that), the fact that Iran will not allow British officials to meet with the captured sailors is disconcerting. The Geneva Convention states that representatives of the prisoners' country of origin must have access to the prisoners, which obviously has not been happening. Then again, Tehran could be taking a page out of America's POW policy, what with Guantanamo and all. In addition to this violation of the Geneva Convention, Iran has released letters that were purportedly written by the UK sailors. What makes this suspicious is that the letters condemn Western involvement in the Middle East and it seems odd that the sailors would use their time and resources to write about British and American foreign policy rather than to their loved ones. While it is possible that the sailors have written these letters out of frustration, true beliefs about Western involvement in the Middle East, or both, if these letters were fabricated then Tehran is wasting their time. No one believes that the letters were truly written by the sailors.

So while Tehran should give Britain access to their sailors, it is almost a certainty that the sailors are being treated just as well as any prisoner that the British have caught during whatever it is the media is calling the conflict in Iraq. Britain's reaction to the whole situation has been a little over the top, as a simple apology for trespassing (whether or not they actually did it, because you know Britain would do the same thing if an Iranian ship was found remotely close to their waters) would do and this whole situation could have been resolved sans media. But, Britain could not just put their tail between their legs and apologize and not only that, now America is involved and they are grandstanding and the media is loving it. Peace.

1 comment:

  1. 1. You don't apologize for something you didn't do.

    2. The geneva convention aplies to soldiers & sailors in uniform in an army or navy. It does not apply to non-military revloutionaries or "freedom fighters" who are not part of a formal milatry force. Thus your Gitmo analogy is misplaced.

    Those are my comments. Even though I diasgree with some conclusions I do like reading your blog.