You've Got 'Em, Mahmoud. Now What?
- The Shatt al-Arab waterway, where the ship was operating, has long been in dispute, but is recognized by everyone but Iran as being Iraqi territory.
- The Brits had been working these waters for several years and knew the boundaries well.
- An Iranian fisherman confirmed British Navy reports that the Iranian boat siezed the Brit patrol boats in Iraqi water and took them back to Iranian water.
- The Iranian forces were not regular navy, but the radical Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, that operates separately from the country's regular navy and reports directly to Iran's theocratic leadership. (source)
The incident comes as British Army Colonel Justin Masherevski, who is based in Iraq, says most of the violence against UK forces in Basra is being engineered by Iranian elements.It also comes as Iran threw some heated rhetoric in a generally westward direction (although that's hardly unique):
Col Masherevski said Iran was providing "sophisticated weaponry" to insurgents and "Iranian agents" were paying local men to attack British troops.
Earlier this week, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said if Western countries "want to treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack."So Mahmoud went out and got himself some British sailors. Maybe he thought the world doesn't think he's renegade enough. Maybe he hopes to use the crisis to smuggle arms and operatives into Iraq elsewhere along the border.
Maybe he's just a short, little man with a Napoleon complex. Whatever, he must have been tickled with the forcefulness of this response from a liberal member of Parliament:
"Whatever the rights and wrongs of military action, British forces in Iraq are now there with the authority of a UN security council resolution... and the Iranian government should be left in no doubt of the serious implications of their action."Oooh. Let's Hear! Hear! it for forceful resolve! The statement is from Sir Menzies Campbell, Brit's counterpart to Harry Reid. Campbell's probably on the phone right now with the UK's UN ambassador, working furiously on a carefully worded UN resolution.