Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Iran-Iraq maritime boundary - What is Tony Blair relying on?

The warmongering related to the March 23rd Iranian capture of 15 British sailors and marines is rapidly escalating.

The British military personnel were seized in the 125-mile-long channel, known as the Shatt in Iraq and the Arvandrud in Iran.

The mainstream media consistently states that the British sailors were in Iraqi waters.

According to the Washington Post, on March 27, Blair Prepares to Show Iran Broke Law in Seizing 15 Britons. Blair is “preparing to go public in Parliament as soon as Wednesday with concrete evidence” that the seizure of the 15 British military personnel was a violation of international law. He added, “They have to release them. If not, then we will move this to a different phase.”

Whoa! According to former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, in his March 28 post, Fake Maritime Boundaries, “The British Government has published a map showing the coordinates of the incident, well within an Iran/Iraq maritime border. The mainstream media and even the blogosphere have bought this hook, line and sinker.

But there are two colossal problems.

A) The Iran/Iraq maritime boundary shown on the British government map does not exist. It has been drawn up by the British Government. Only Iraq and Iran can agree their bilateral boundary…. This published boundary is a fake with no legal force.

B) Accepting the British coordinates for the position of both HMS Cornwall and the incident, both were closer to Iranian land than Iraqi land. Go on, print out the map and measure it. Which underlines the point that the British produced border is not a reliable one.

… by producing a fake map of the Iran/Iraq boundary, notably unfavourable to Iran, we can only harden the Iranian position.”

According to the Lebanon-based Tactical Report, reporting on March 28 from Tehran, Negotiations on the British sailors make no significant progress, stating, “the statements of British PM Tony Blair, which the Iranians considered as threats, are likely to complicate the negotiations.”

And what is our country doing? The Associated Press reported today, U.S. shows off military in the Persian Gulf as warning to Iran, adding that military exercises are being “held four days after Iran detains 15 from Britain.”

For “flavor," here are a couple of paragraphs from the AP article:

“ABOARD THE USS JOHN C. STENNIS [in the Persian Gulf] — American warplanes screamed off two aircraft carriers Tuesday as the U.S. Navy staged its largest show of force in the Persian Gulf since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, launching a mammoth exercise meant as a message to the Iranians.

The maneuvers with 15 warships and more than 100 aircraft were sure to heighten tensions with Iran, which has frequently condemned the U.S. military presence off its coast and is in a face-off with the West over its nuclear program and its recent capture of a British naval team.”

I have the same queasy feeling I had during the run-up to the attack on Iraq.

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