“The capture of British Navy servicemen by Iranian forces is not simply an incident over sea sovereignty in the Persian Gulf. It is a calculated move on behalf of Teheran’s Jihadi chess players to provoke a “projected” counter move by London and its American allies. It is all happening in a regional context, carefully engineered by the Mullahs strategic planners.”
– Counter Terrorism Blog
Chess isn’t a game reserved for the Iranians though; the British are generally quite good at it too. And accusing the Iranians of pulling the strings here – the underdog gambit – is all part of the picture.
For some time George Bush and Tony (I can’t work an iPod) Blair have been trying to get people’s focus away from the nightmare that Iraq has become for them, even if it means trying to manufacture a pretext for invading, or at least attacking, Iran.
What better way to start an incident than by sending out lightly armed (inflatable) boats with no air cover right under the noses of the Iranians in disputed waters near the Iraq-Iran border. Prefaced, perhaps, by some minor, perhaps verbal or visual provocations just to get the Iranian blood up.
Just to maximise the PR spin, make sure one of the boats just happens, all accidentally like, to contain a female member of crew – who, even better, is a mother of a sweet three year old. Oh, and make sure there are some recent images of the captured woman rating for the TV news: would an interview from the day before she was captured be good enough do you think?
Surprise, surprise, the ruse works and the Iranians capture the Brits. They took the gambit. [Gambit: sacrificing a strategically unimportant piece so you can take positional advantage] In this case, the sacrifice was the lightly armed boats and their crews. The positional advantage was to have the Iranians come down off their safe high ground (much as The Grand Old Duke of York once did in the nursery rhyme) into the harms way (politically speaking) of breaking, or at least appearing to break some International law – and a disputed one concerning the National borders associated with the Shatt al Arab waterway and its history would be perfect.
This strategy seems to have been used just prior to the Falklands war back in the 80s, and again when the Israelis used it in Lebanon recently (although they’d never admit they had any intention of having two soldiers captured, despite it being militarily always a good way to stir up a hornets nest) where it wasn’t so successful.
The Falklands conflict, you may remember, began when Argentina was given to believe that the UK were no longer that interested in guaranteeing the freedom or sovereignty of the Falkland Islanders. To make it really clear, the Royal Navy removed their presence from the area by sending HMS Endeavour, the Antarctic Survey military icebreaker away. Argentina then landed some “trawlermen” on the nearby islands of South Georgia and raised the Argentinian flag, claiming the islands as Argentinian territory, allowing Britain to act defensively in sending an armada 8,000 miles to reinvade the islands and sink the Argentinian Battleship, the General Belgrano. Letting the trawlermen onto South Georgia was what swung public opinion in favour of the war in the minds of the British public, including me.
So now Blair and Bush are hoping the wave of public sympathy for a captured mother will give them some support and people will forget the mess in Iraq that they created. But this time it’s different – both Tony and George have been caught lying to the public in the past and have lost the trust of their subjects. It is undeniable that they both need a good diversion from Iraq, but they’ve cried “Wolf” too many times already for them to be believed right now. They’re tarnished goods, even amongst many of their own supporters.
But my question is, what on earth was the mothership, HMS Cornwall, doing all this time, where was the air cover, why were the Brits no more heavily armed, why did they not fight back, how come nobody saw the Iranians coming, and if none of the above were possible who decided it was safe to send the seamen and marines to do the job they were given when clearly the principles of military thinking had for some reason been totally ignored in this case: where was the back up?
There is an alternative to this Machiavellian view of course: perhaps it wasn’t a provocative action by the British forces at all, perhaps instead it was yet another example of our forces, our brave soldiers, seamen and seawomen, our marvellous marines, all our young protectors being hung out to dry by a government which has grandiose ambitions, but is unwilling to fully support the troops on the ground with the correct equipment.
Whichever way you look at it, Tony has egg on his face. He’s either a cynical manipulator, or he’s a greedy, ambitious and uncaring incompetent. All mouth and no trousers.
The invasion of Iran is about to begin. The preparation is under way. And the oil interests supporting Bush are rubbing their hands together… again. Just as the oil price started going down, it’s about to go up again.
Releasing the prisoners would restore Iran to the high ground – even on the nuclear issue. Not releasing them will be counterproductive. Unfortunately there seem to be enough hotheads on both sides to make sure something violent does occur. And that would be neither Christian, nor Islamic.
But when was anything in the Middle East ever about religion?
The Iranians have announced they are releasing the soldiers, and boy did he squeeze the last drop of positive PR out of it for Iran. New suits for all the men in the party – no orange, but grey – and some strange stripey top for the lady in the group. That’s a little better than Guantanamo.
You have to admit though – even if only to yourself, silently – no matter what your political views are the Iranians came out of this much better than did the UK. You could see that from the body language of Tony Blair as he made the TV broadcast announcing the result outside 10 Downing St, flanked by Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary. Tony looked like a broken man, standing next to the Head Teacher who had just given him a wigging and whose presence was needed to ensure he really did unmake the mess he had gotten the country into. Why he still clings to power is beyond me: he really isn’t doing any favours to the country – more the opposite in fact.
“It’s time to go, isn’t it, Tony?”
“Not until after May 9th – I’ll have been in power for ten years then! That’s a very long time, you know!”
“Yeah, and don’t we know it…”