John on March 31, 2007 at 12:34 am
Ministers are preparing a compromise deal to allow Iran to save face and release its 15 British military captives by promising that the Royal Navy will never knowingly enter Iranian waters without permission.
The Sunday Telegraph has learnt of plans to send a Royal Navy captain or commodore to Teheran, as a special envoy of the Government, to deliver a public assurance that officials hope will end the diplomatic standoff.
Allah-style exit question: Do Iranians go in for April Fools jokes?
Update Sat. 2PM: The Brits may have decided they have no way to resolve this crisis other than submit:
The British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, also indicated for the first time that Britain regretted the incident.
“The message I want to send is I think everyone regrets that this position has arisen,” she said after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Germany. “What we want is a way out of it.”
In response, Ahmedinejad is talking tough and playing to the his again:
“Instead of apologizing over trespassing by British forces, the world arrogant powers issue statements and deliver speeches,” IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying during a speech in the southeastern city of Andinmeshk.
“The British occupier forces did trespass our waters. Our border guards detained them with skill and bravery. But arrogant powers, because of their arrogant and selfish spirit, are claiming otherwise,” the hard-line leader told the crowd who was celebrating the Persian New Year holiday, IRNA said.
Behind the scenes, Tehran sent a diplomatic note to London and London responded, though no one is saying what was said.
The Brits seem to be having a national identity crisis:
Iran would not have kidnapped our Servicemen without having considered our rules of engagement, our diplomatic isolation and our likely military response, and made a rough calculation of how likely they were to get away with their piracy.There was a time when British citizenship afforded a degree of protection from foreign harassment…Not any more.
The article ends with the stiff resolve the British are known for: “If they hate us, let them also fear us.” Somehow, it doesn’t sound convincing. In fact the same edition of the Telegraph has another piece titled Without America’s might the options are few
Military action is unfeasible without American support and so is a military blockade of the Gulf. Unless the United Nations shows more rigour, sanctions are unlikely to hurt Iran in the short term. There is a feeling that the 15 could be in for a long stay in Iran and face the nightmare prospect for Britain of a show trial.
It’s not all bad news, however. A third piece in The Telegraph notes that the EU has given Britain the strongly worded support the UN would not:
Britain gained its first significant international backing over the crisis last night when the European Union called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of the 15 Royal Navy personnel. The “message of solidarity” from 26 other European foreign ministers warned Iran that unless the sailors and marines were released, the EU would take further action, including possible suspension of business ties with Teheran and trade sanctions.
The EU statement pointedly used the word the UN baulked at endorsing by saying the it “deplores” the Britons’ continued detention. It backed Britain’s insistence that the Royal Navy boarding party had not crossed into Iranian territorial waters and threatened “further measures” if they were not released.
And the US is moving on sanctions as well:
The US State Department imposed sanctions Friday against an Iranian entity that it says has been involved in the development of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs. The action, directed against Iran’s Defense Industries Organization, authorizes the administration to freeze any US-based assets it possesses.
And now for something completely, uh, different. Here’s former Monty Python star Terry Jones in today’s Guardian:
I share the outrage expressed in the British press over the treatment of our naval personnel accused by Iran of illegally entering their waters. It is a disgrace. We would never dream of treating captives like this – allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world – have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God’s sake, what’s wrong with putting a bag over her head? That’s what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it’s hard to breathe. Then it’s perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can’t be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.
Terry always has had a soft spot for Islamic fanatics. Anyone who has seen his mini-series on the Crusades can tell you that. In fact, Thomas F. Madden, author of A Concise History of the Crusades has this to say about Jones effort:
A couch potato watching the BBC/A&E documentary on the crusades (hosted by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame no less) would learn in roughly four hours of frivolous tsk-tsk-ing that the peaceful Muslim world actually learned to be warlike from the barbaric western crusaders.
But hey, I think I see where Jones is coming from. Why should the Iranians propaganda efforts be allowed to flounder because of an accident of birth? They send new letters every day, callously using young soldier and mother Faye Turney as a propaganda tool. Oh, sure, they’re trying. They’re sincere. But let’s face it the language barrier is cramping their style. Poor grammar and sloppy diction are no way to crush the British spirit.
Thank goodness for cheeky Terry Jones showing them how it’s done!
Category: Foreign Affairs |