Prague Twin

Monday, April 02, 2007

UK Sailors Taken Captive, World Holds Breath


When the story of the 15 UK sailors taken captive by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard broke, I was in the United States. After I heard about it, I picked up the morning LA Times to get some more information. Amazingly, this story was given third billing behind the House Resolution on Iraq (somewhat understandable) and the tainted dog food story (unbelievable). Perhaps now it is the lead story, as it should be.

This thing has the potential to blow up into a devastating conflict. One of the key points here is that neither side has provided convincing evidence as to where the incident actually took place. The UK Ministry of Defense announced last Wedndesday they would release proof later that day that the sailors were in Iraqi waters when they were taken hostage. They said the same thing on Thursday and then delivered. However, there is still a long way to go to actually prove such claims. For their part, the Iranians have changed their story as to the exact location of the UK sailors when they were captured. Neither side is very convincing.

Another key point here is that the UK's rules of engagement are such that these sailors did not defend themselves when they perhaps could have (Bloomberg). And what occurs to me is how easily the UK soldiers have succumbed to demands that they admit they were in Iranina waters. Also, the IRNA reports that that the sailors may face trial.

One story you won't hear on CNN is the claim by the Iranians that the UK fired on its consulate in Basra. Nor will CNN report in the same breath that the US took 5 Iranians captive in Iraq just a couple of short months ago. Instead, we get the very predictable tough talk from President Bush which can not be backed up. And as a further side note, it has been reported by a Russian news agency that US plans to strike Iranian nuclear facilities this weekend. That, of course, is just a rumor at this point, but that would NOT be a "Good Friday" at all.

Meanwhile, students in Tehran have surrounded the UK embassy in protest.

This leads me to the point where we must ask, "who has the most to loose from a conflict?" People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, it has been said. So whereas the U.S. economy is facing a slowdown, the Iranian economy is already in shambles. Whereas the U.S. imports some 10 million barrels of oil per day, Iran exports about 2.2 million barrels per day.

Who stands to loose the most should a conflict push the price of oil above $100 per barrel and spark a global recession: the rich importers, or the poor exporter?

Finally, this is a perfect example of how a conflict in one place (Iraq) can spill over to conflicts elsewhere. America's gamble is getting riskier and riskier every day.

3 Comments:

  • I'm sure glad those sailors have been released. I don't know if Iran was planning all along to just make Blair squirm for a few days, or if they were considering creating another hostage crisis like in 1979.

    As far as America's gamble goes, I hope there's no war with Iran. Sure, we'd kick their asses, but the costs wouldn't be worth it. No matter how far in debt our government is, and how hated we are in most of the world, it could still get worse.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 9:01 AM  

  • Hard to say what Iran is thinking these days. I'm relieved that this is over.

    I really, really, hope there will be no war with Iran.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:15 PM  

  • Grabbing the UK military personnel looks very much like a live test to determine the responses of the UK and the US to kidnappings.

    The fact that the UK didn't sink the entire Iranian Navy, which consists of a handful of ships, is all the Iranians need to know before they expand their operations outside their borders.

    Next time they may well simply blast other small British naval vessels cutting the waters between Iran and Iraq. Now that every Iranian citizen believes the British were in Iranian waters, there will be no opposition to sinking the next vessel that purportedly violates the offshore boundaries between the two countries.

    On one hand the fear of another kidnapping by Iranians might lead Brits to keep far from the demarcation point and thereby miss the chance to observe some important Iranian shenanigans.

    The kidnapping may also have been part of a gambit to open the door of combat between the US and Iran in a manner similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident that's considered the event precipitating US involvement in Vietnam.

    By Blogger no_slappz, at 5:33 PM  

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