I have been extremely displeased by the media reporting regarding the ongoing Iran-Britain “detainee” crisis. The boundaries questons surrounding the Shatt/Arvand River are hardly of recent vintage. They are instead a crtical flash-point of contention that goes back centuries. Insuring access to world seaways via the disputed area is a vital interest, not just to Iraq, but to Iran also. And Iranians of all political persuasions have reasons to be deeply suspicious of “perfidious Albion” — on this issue.
It has been a crisis waiting to happen – or be manufactured. More on my views, a backgrounder, and cautions in another post.
For now, here’s a few stunning excerpts from the extraordinary blog of Craig Murray, the dissident former UK Ambassador to Uzbekistan, and a onetime “Head of the Maritime Section of the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
As he did before, he’s blowing the whistle on “sexed-up” Blair-spin — and on the incredibly lazy reporting in the mainstream media (here in the US and in the UK):
Today (March 28th):
“The British Government has published a map showing the coordinates of the incident, well within an Iran/Iraq maritime border. The mainstream media and even the blogosphere has bought this hook, line and sinker.
But there are two colossal problems.
A) The Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist. It has been drawn up by the British Government. Only Iraq and Iran can agree their bilateral boundary, and they never have done this in the Gulf, only inside the Shatt because there it is the land border too. This published boundary is a fake with no legal force.
B) Accepting the British coordinates for the position of both HMS Cornwall and the incident, both were closer to Iranian land than Iraqi land. Go on, print out the map and measure it. Which underlines the point that the British produced border is not a reliable one.”
Well imagine that. Should we be surprised? Who was it that invented the art of artificial line drawing in the Middle East?
Murray’s blog entries since March 23 are all worth considering – and comparing with what we’re reading in the media. To be sure, Murray sees room for blame on all sides
“None of which changes the fact that the Iranians, having made their point, should have handed back the captives immediately. I pray they do so before this thing spirals out of control. But by producing a fake map of the Iran/Iraq boundary, notably unfavourable to Iran, we can only harden the Iranian position.”
I share Murray’s wish that this be resolved rapidly, before ideological hotheads on both sides (AN & TB) turn this into something bigger and more difficult to unwind.
And will somebody please get Helena’s hotline suggestion – e.g., Colonel Lang’s “deconflict mechanism” – working and stat!?