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Captured Sailors Home, But The Damage Is Done 11 April 2007

Posted by David in Iran, Media, World.
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The 15 captured British sailors are now safely home, thank goodness, but the amount of damage done by the recent events cannot be simply put. My problems with the “ordeal” go back to the very beginning of it.

Why did they allow themselves to be taken prisoner? Now they themselves were out-gunned, but the Royal Navy – with its assorted helicopters, launches, Royal Marines and firepower – was nearby and had enough guns to blow the tiny Iranian boat out of the water. Now presumably the Royal Navy aren’t there on a cruise, so surely defending the patrols is their purpose? Why didn’t the sailors call for back up? Indeed, why didn’t the Navy spot the Iranians to start with?

Then patrols aren’t allowed to open fire unless attacked first, but would the Iranians dare open fire on British forces undertaking a UN mandate in Iraqi waters, a clear act of war? It’s not a good idea. The British could have just sailed away. Orwhat if the British sailors had re-boarded the Indian ship they had been inspecting, as a defensive position. Would Iran open fire on British forces with a UN mandate on an Indian ship in Iraqi waters? Hardly likely.

But when they were captured, they didn’t really need to play along quite so much. Yes, do what it takes to get released, don’t annoy the Iranians, but don’t look like you’re having fun – pulling silly faces to the camera, playing table tennis, laughing and joking. It was clearly propaganda, so they didn’t need to lay it on so thick. They needed to look worried, scared, bored, upset. When they got told they were going home and met the President, they should shake his hand when he went to shake theirs, but they didn’t need to lay praise and thanks on him. He is the man who ordered their capture, and sends bombs to kill their fellow British servicemenin Iraq, did they forget?

Now they return and sell their stories – a great insult to the forces and those who have died – but who will the World believe? The words now of fear and suffering under evil Iranian captors don’t match the images on television. The World thinks Iran could have forced them to look and say they are happy, but Britain too could have forced them to say they were terrified and badly treat. Most of the World will believe Iran.

This isn’t helped by the stories either. The worst part of the ordeal from the endless stream of stories seems to have been being kept isolated, and “good cop, bad cop” types of mind games, seemingly no worse than those used in police stations across Britain (and deliberately softer than those used by the USA to terror suspects). It’s certainly less than what some civilian hostages have been through.

It would be far better if the story just went away – but it won’t. Iran is now making a film, probably one of those a docu-drama thing, showing what happened.

What Has Iran Gained? 4 April 2007

Posted by David in Iran, World.
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Iran is to free the 15 captive sailors. I will believe it when I see it, but fingers crossed we will be seeing it soon. Their release is “a gift to the British people” according to Iran’s President, who has asked Tony Blair not to put them on trial for allegedly entering Iranian waters. So after all this tension, what has Iran gained?

Surprisingly, quite a lot. For a good many days, Britain and the US have looked ridiculously weak against Iran – both militarily and diplomatically – with the EU refusing any trade sanctions. In public opinion too we have looked weak, the shrugged shoulders of majority opinion. Across Iran and the Muslim world, Iran has looked powerful and mighty. Now, by releasing the hostages, they are trying to look magnanimous at home and abroad. The shrugged shoulders in the West can now say “oh they can’t be that bad, they released them without any demands”.

In the propaganda battle is may well be Iran 1, Britain 0?