Iran kidnapping: What Britain must do next

Craven
Melanie Phillips has written for today’s Daily Mail about Labour’s "craven" response to Iran’s kidnapping of 15 British marines:

"Admiral Lord Nelson must be revolving in his grave. While on patrol in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway between Iran and Iraq, 15 Royal Marines and sailors were seized by Iran on a trumped up charge that they had entered Iranian waters.  Six days on and there is no sign of their release. On the contrary, Iran has stepped up its aggression, threatening to charge the kidnapped marines with espionage and even denying them British consular access."

Her article documents the ways in which Iran has undermined the liberation of Iraq and is racing towards becoming a nuclear power with threats to wipe Israel off the face of the map.

Ms Phillips recommends three immediate steps:

  1. The setting of a clear timetable for the release of Britain’s marines;
  2. New rules of engagement so that if British military are challenged again by Iran that they clearly defend themselves;
  3. The seeking of a UN resolution that allows the UK to pursue all necessary means to get the marines back.

Her conclusion:

"Iran believes we will not act. They are banking with some confidence on appeasement by the West. And history tells us what horror awaits those who believe you can appease tyranny."

Related link: Hague on Iran’s kidnapping of Royal Navy sailors

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24 Responses to Iran kidnapping: What Britain must do next

  1. Yet Another Anon says:

    Merely defending themselves is not enough, they need to be allowed to counter attack if they are attacked.

  2. JF says:

    I was getting excited until I read the bit about getting UN authorization. For pity’s sake, when will the West stop going to that den of tyranny for permission to defend itself? If you feel it is time to attack, just attack! Who cares what Ghana or Congo think?

  3. Peter Hatchet says:

    I agree with Phillips. Apart from on point 3.

    I very much doubt the UN would ever grant such a resolution, especially with the line; “pursue all necessary means”. The UN would “condemn” and that’s about it.

    We should issue our own warning to Iran – maybe a NATO warning? – that this is what we’ll do if nothing happens. We can then appeal bilaterally to other nations to support us in this endeavour, including extra ships & troops to defend the border if necessary.

  4. Steevo says:

    Lol.

    Well Melanie is no fool, I believe she would agree with you. She’s suggesting the UN for diplomatic purposes strictly in the hope of getting the marines back.

  5. Steevo says:

    Nope, reread it, my mistake.

  6. TomTom says:

    I think the British and US Governments should “leak” plans for petrol rationing and oil rationing and build up reserve stocks….the message should shake the EU and Russia and China from their torpor

  7. Andrew Fenton says:

    Perhaps it would help if before commenting she actually got her facts straight. They were in the Gulf, not in the Shatt-Al-Arab. This makes quite a difference, because there’s an accepted boundary in the latter, but not in the former.

    Anyone writing in a national paper would be expected to have done such basic reading beforehand – after all, this precise point has been a bone of contention for decades. Then again, maybe expecting even basic standards of the Daily Mail is pointless.

  8. JF says:

    Andrew, not according to your British Vice Adm. Charles Style as quoted by CNN:
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/03/28/iran.uk.sailors/index.html

    Since you seem disinclined to believe Western news sources, your favorite propaganda network, Al Jazeera, confirms:
    http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/FDF0114A-33B6-40AF-9C13-D3B30FA12F7F.htm

    Who knows what they are reporting in their Arabic version, however. Taqiyya, anyone?

  9. The Laughing Cavalier says:

    From late 1979 to January 1981 the Iranians held the personnel of the American Embassy in Tehran hostage for a total of 444 days. It was on the day that Ronald Reagan was sworn into office as President that they were released.

    Some say that their release happened then was because the Iranians feared a more robust response from Reagan than they did from Carter, others that the change was symbolic, that it would have happened whoever succeeded Carter and that the aim of humiliating him had been accomplished.

    Having seen the weakness of this government when they ran rings round Straw during the nuclear talks the Iranians would have known that they would be able to behave similarly and take hostages with impunity.

    I shouldn’t be surprised to see Tehran continuing in this vein with, in this case, the marines and sailors being held until the day that Blair relinquishes office and released once he has vacated No 10. One more reason for him to go.

    What has become clear above all else is that the government has been sending our Service men and women into harms way not only inadequately equipped, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, but without even rules of engagement robust enough to permit them to defend themselves from being kidnapped.

  10. weced says:

    Iran must not think that Britain is a walk-over, which at present it seems to many people that it is – eg the supine way the current UK government allows our troops in Basra to be mortared even night without immediate & effective lethal retaliation.

    Indeed, the only way to avoid this recent type of incident (ie the one in the Persian Gulf) is to be known to be tough whenever anything like it occurs. Bullies think twice & then again if they fear their actions will lead to their own near-immediate pain. And that should be Britain’s treatment of Iran & particularly its Revolutionary Guards in this instance, & should have been the automatic response after the previous at least 2 incidents (US Navy personnel suggest there have been even more!) in the Persian Gulf.

    Otherwise, not only will this incident go wrong for everyone concerned, but who else is watching to see what the UK does? Why Argentina, of course – always hopeful that Britain will someday either forget about the Falklands, or be too over-extended either militarily or financially to defend them!

  11. JF says:

    Andrew,

    Just to follow up, uber-propaganda outfit BBC reports along the same lines as the other sources mentioned:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6501555.stm

    I know you’ll side with the Iranians anyway, but I thought the other viewers would appreciate the facts.

  12. dog biter says:

    If we weren’t occupying Iraq this sort of nonsense wouldn’t happen in the first place. Hang around in the barber’s shop and eventually you get a haircut. Our mere presence in Iraq is enraging every funamentalist nutcase so it’s no surprise that sooner or later some of our servicemen would be kidnapped. We have no right to be there in the first place and any Government with half a brain would get out tomorrow.

  13. Andrew Fenton says:

    “Since you seem disinclined to believe Western news sources….”

    Uh, where did that come from?

    Nothing you posted contradicted what I wrote. I merely stated historical fact: that Iraq and Iran do not agree upon a demarcation of territorial waters, beyond the mouth of the river. The incident itself was in the Gulf, not _in_ the Shatt-Al-Arab, as Melanie Phillips claimed – if it was, then there is a clearly defined border (there are buoys). After all, the treaty that defined it was a major factor in the Iran-Iraq war, so its hardly obscure.

    This is nothing terribly unusual, there are semi-dormant marine territorial disputes all over the world. Iran is just choosing now to use it as an excuse – the question then is at what level was it planned.

  14. JF says:

    Dog Biter, if that is the true British position, now would be an opportune time for the IRA to start up its bombing campaign again. Then you could withdraw from Northern Ireland and declare victory there, too. Are you any relation to Neville Chamberlain, by any chance?

  15. JF says:

    Andrew, this article provides slightly more detail on the positioning:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6502805.stm

    As for the rest, if Iran did not agree that the marines were in Iraqi waters, why did they play the games with GPS coordinates? Clearly, they did agree what was clearly Iraqi and what was clearly Iranian, which was why they were forced to fabricate coordinates clearly in Iranian territory.

    In addition, it doesn’t matter at what level this was planned. If this were not planned at the highest levels, it is the responsibility of the highest levels to rectify the mistakes of their subordinates. The president’s and ayatollah’s inaction in this regard speaks volumes.

  16. Andrew Fenton says:

    “http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/6502805.stm

    As for the rest, if Iran did not agree that the marines were in Iraqi waters, why did they play the games with GPS coordinates?”

    Like I said, the whole thing might have been an excuse 🙂 Alternatively, it’s possible the locals were using politicised maps which were overly aggressive on Iranian claims – a mile at sea isn’t a great deal. Once it was realised centrally that this had happened, it’s retreat and save face time.

    Then again, it’s quite possible it was all very deliberate – although the point about what level it’s planned at does matter in terms of understanding Iranian politics. If you think the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing in the UK, it’s not even remotely comparable – you’re essentially talking about several parallel governments and militaries, alongside a hideously complicated central constitutional structure. Yes, they should have sorted it and defused things ideally, but we are talking ultra-nationalist politicians here – it’s not too surprising things escalated. In addition, who even knows who’s being told what?

    Anyway, the map above shows the de facto borders out in the Gulf. With the standard 12 miles of territorial waters and Iraq’s ultra-thin slice of coastline you inevitably have this sort of problem, and given the two countries haven’t been the best of friends for most of the last three decades it’s hardly any surprise they’ve never demarcated things … and that’s before you consider the oil factor

    (demaracating inside the Shatt-al-Arab is easier, you just split it half and half, and occasionally have a quick commission to update it when sandbars pop up or the mouth moves a bit).

  17. JF says:

    Andrew, I will concede that the incident didn’t take place in the Shatt-al-Arab, and Phillips got that wrong, although I think at this point, that’s a technicality.

    As for the breakdown of government of Iran, I would ask this: at what point do other countries decide that the lack of unity isn’t a Western problem? If we indulge this viewpoint, then it’s possible for Iran to get away with almost anything, and then blame rogue elements. And then do it again, and again. If Iran doesn’t accept responsibility for its own armed forces, then it cannot be expected to protest when those rogue elements are crushed by the West.

    Is this realistic? No, Iran will of course protest. Because Iran is, of course, able to control these elements.

  18. TomTom says:

    British Military GPS devices will be valuable to the Iranians as they will be US MilSpec accurate and not of degraded accuracy like civilian devices

  19. mark says:

    I saw the picture of the British female sailor who had obviously been made to wear the Hijab during captivity. This is a great irony to a generation of young western women who have gained freedom in everyday life which their forebears could have only dreamed of. We must all reflect on the threat of extreme Islamism and be resolved to never allow it to take over the UK.

  20. Beth says:

    Mark,

    The only time you will ever see a Hijab on me is on my dead body. That is the biggest thing that stood out for me when looking at the video footage of the hostages. Even in captivity, they subject women further humiliations. I have always told my family and friends that I would never allow one of those things on my head. Ever. I don’t think I would have been a very cooperative hostage

  21. Tony says:

    Maybe Brittain should actually take a trip into Iranian waters with crews of Brittish and US. special forces and capture some of their oceanic Terrorists. Of course keep an aircraft carrier and a few battle ships across the horizon in the event they give chase. Of course we would need to give the embassies enough time to warn visitors in Iran, so they are not in danger. At least we
    would be playing the same game of cards.

    Tony

  22. Teddy Bear says:

    BBC – The Voice of Iran

    15 British sailors have been illegally abducted and used as political tools by the Iranian regime. By any other definition this is an act of war and contravenes the Geneva Convention for the treatment of POW’s.

    So what does our insidious treasonous state media report?

    Does it tell of how Iran has been sponsoring terrorism all over the world? – No.

    Does it tell of how Iran has been going against UN sanctions and defying exhortations to give up its nuclear ambitions? – No

    Does it tell of Iran’s threats of annihilating Israel with these atomic weapons once it obtains them? – No

    Instead it explains the aggressive and unlawful actions of Iran as a result of being ‘isolated’ by the rest of the world. It is not Iran’s fault – it is the world’s. Inasmuch, it boils down to Britain should ‘apologize’ (for not having entered Iran’s territory) and ‘beg’ the Iranian to return their sailors.

    The Palestinians have often been likened to a child who murders its parents and then pleads fo rmercy and compassion because it is an orphan. Here we have the BBC doing the same for the Iranians.

    They are despicable traitors.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6507451.stm?ls
    “Iran crisis reflects growing isolation
    By Sadeq Saba
    BBC World Service Iran analyst

    The UK and Iran are in a diplomatic stand-off over the incident
    The capture of 15 British Royal Navy personnel by Iranian forces in the Gulf comes at a time when Tehran feels it is under unprecedented international pressure.

    The country is diplomatically isolated and feels under a constant and building US military threat.

    Earlier this month the UN Security Council passed a resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme.

    Iranian diplomats worked very hard to convince some members of the council, such as South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, to support Tehran’s case.

    But it failed, and the vote in favour of the resolution was unanimous, further convincing the Iranian leadership that they have few friends left at the UN and that diplomacy is not working in their favour.

    Siege mentality

    Iran is now also militarily encircled by the US forces. American troops are based in almost every country bordering Iran – Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

    The US Navy has been conducting a series of exercises in the Gulf – the biggest war games in the area since the invasion of Iraq four years ago.

    Hardliners are arguing that any release of the British sailors should be conditional on the release of five Iranians held by the US

    The sense of being under siege is compounded by the US military’s detention in January in Iraq of five Iranians.

    Tehran says they are diplomats but the US says the men are members of the Revolutionary Guards with a mission to support Iraqi insurgents.

    There has been no consular access to them, no charges brought against them and no information about where they are being kept and under what conditions.

    And in December a former Iranian deputy defence minister disappeared in Turkey. Some Western media reported that he had defected to the West.

    But the Iranian government and his family say he was abducted by the US or Israel.

    All these events and pressures have created a siege mentality in Tehran.

    Act of desperation?

    It was in this setting that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently made a significant statement.

    The UN Security Council has voted against Iran on the nuclear issue
    He said that so far Iran had acted legally to defend what it saw as its right to pursue a nuclear programme.

    He went on to say that because the international community had responded with “illegal acts” – by which he meant the Security Council resolutions – Iran itself would from now on feel justified in acting illegally.

    Ayatollah Khamenei emphasised that Iran would use any means available to it to defend itself.

    It is not clear whether the capture of the British sailors and marines was premeditated or not, but the ayatollah’s comments could have given a green light to Revolutionary Guards to seize them.

    If it was premeditated, the capture could be interpreted as an act of desperation by a government which feels isolated and threatened.

    President missing

    Iran officially says there is no connection between the detention of the British personnel and its own grievances.

    But some hardline elements make a link between their release and other issues.

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has faced domestic criticism
    The Iranian authorities themselves are under mounting pressure domestically to ensure the release of the five Iranians held by the US military in Iraq, and hardliners are arguing that any release of the British sailors should be conditional on the release of the Iranians.

    Noticeable by his absence in all this is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    From the Iranian side, the crisis has been managed by the country’s Supreme National Security Council, the highest body dealing with such important matters.

    Its decisions are approved by Ayatollah Khamenei, and all senior officials take part in its meetings.

    President Ahmadinejad’s silence may suggest that the clerical leadership is deliberately keeping him out of this matter in order to ensure that situation is not inflamed by his usual hardline rhetoric.”

  23. Kim says:

    If Britain as a nation doesn’t grow a spine soon, then it has just demonstrated to everyone that it is utterly irrelevant in world affairs.

    A faded power in cultural and demographic decline. Britain has become so weak that it can’t even come up with a rationale to defend itself against naked aggression.

    How low has this once great nation sunk? What a shame!

  24. maria kazikiasis says:

    mudlims are destroyind the world.

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