Iraq/Iran Maritime Boundaries 17

Foreign Policy magazine has a blog which has just published an article calling me a “gadfly” and saying I am “missing the point”. The point being a highly contentious statement by former Bahraini government legal adviser Kaiyan Kaikobad that the maritime boundary drawn by the UK MOD has become part of international law by usage.

Actually, I hadn’t missed this point at all. Kaikobad’s view is quoted in the LA Times, and I spent rather a lot of time explaining to the journalist writing the artcle what was wrong with his argument. Whether the LA Times carried any of my points I do not know.

The Foreign Policy blog article follows, with the rejoinder I have sent them:

Obviously, the seizure of 15 British marines and sailors and the Iranians’ use of them as pawns in a propaganda game is a deadly serious business. Yet there’s also plenty of farce amid the danger:

The Iranians also blundered in diplomatic talks by giving the British their own compass reference for the place where they said the 14 men and one woman had been seized. When Britain plotted these on a map and pointed out that the spot was in Iraq’s maritime area, the Iranians came up with a new set of coordinates, putting the seizure in their own waters.

Whoops. Turns out, though, that the border issue isn’t as black and white as either side claims. King’s College of London’s Richard Schofield, an expert on the Iran-Iraq border, explained in a telephone interview that although “basically, there is a boundary” nowadays along the Shatt al-Arab, that’s not the case further out in the Persian Gulf where the British sailors and marines were taken prisoner. Below is the map presented by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD):

That’s what lends the claims of gadfly Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, a whiff of plausibility. Murray, who also headed the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from 1989 to 1992, writes on his website that “there is no agreed maritime boundary between Iraq and Iran in the Persian Gulf,” a milder version of his earlier argument that the boundary used by the MoD “is a fake with no legal force.”

Murray is missing the point. True, as Schofield says, “the boundary that [the MoD] showed further south was a little disingenuous, because it doesn’t have the same legal force or weighting, by any means, as the Iran-Iraq boundary.” Explains Schofield, “It’s more just a provisional indication of what Iraq’s territorial water claims might be.” But what’s good for the goose is good for the gander; if there’s no clear border, then Iran doesn’t have a case, either. And as Kaiyan Kaikobad, an associate professor of international law at Durham University, observes in the LA Times, “If you can show that over a reasonably long period of time, that this was the line that both countries actually agreed on, there’s lots of rules in international law that allow that line to become not only a de facto line, but a de jure line.” So the MoD could be right after all.

Rather than seizing the opportunity to chalk the whole thing up to a misunderstanding about maritime law, though, the Iranians keep digging themselves into a deeper diplomatic hole, and the British are happy to hand them the shovel. It’s clear from the Iranian actions that this isn’t really about territorial waters, in any case. After all, the Iranians could have politely notified the British Navy that their boat was in the wrong spot, and the two sides could have worked it out like gentlemen. Instead, we get an absurd hostage situation and a diplomatic crisis. So what’s it about?

I have replied:

I am rather unable to understand why you should be so gratuitously rude about me in your blog, first calling me a “gadfly”, then saying that I am “missing the point”.

Firstly, I am not missing the point at all – that neither Britan, Iraq nor Iran has a plain case is precisely my point. You give the impression that I support Iranian claims and actions, which I most certainly do not.

Secondly, I am unsure why you should choose to take the view that Kaiiyan Kaikobad’s view is more valid than the practically identical views of Richard Schofield and I

There are major problems with Kaikobad’s view that state practice can result in a de jure as well as a de facto line.

Firstly, there are no judgements that enshrine that view in the area of maritime boundaries since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea entered into force.

Secondly UNCLOS provides that, in the absence of an agreed boundary, neither side should attempt to enforce territorial water claims beyond a median line. It is very plain that this is for the purpose of conflict avoidance, and does not prejudice either state’s rights in the eventual resolution of the boundary dispute.

So Kaikobad’s view that working accommodation does bring de jure permanent solution is incompatible with UNCLOS, which is becoming generally accepted as enshrining customary international law in this area.

Thirdly, the wisdom of UNCLOS in this regard is demonstrated if you consider the ramifications of Kaikobad’s view. If going along with a working arrangement would lead to its acceptance as de jure, then the only way a state could maintain a quite legitimate claim would be by the exercise of force to show it did not go along. Kaikobad’s view is a recipe for conflict. If you think about it logically, if Kaikobad’s view were true, then the Iranians would have to initiate some sort of military action or lose their claim. Is that desirable?

Kaikobad is an interesting man of strong views, but not an entirely definitive authority.

Look, it is a free country and you are perfectly entitled to publish about me what you like. But to disagree with a point is not to miss it, and I hope this convinces you that was an unfair characterisation.

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17 thoughts on “Iraq/Iran Maritime Boundaries

  • Craig

    A problem with midnight rejoinders is that I realise I forgot to add the obvious fact that there have been sufficient incidents over the years to introduce doubt over where there is even an agreed working arrangement anyway.

  • writeon

    Dear Craig,

    I wouldn't worry too much about how you are described by these people. It's irritating of course, but harldy surprising. They are not interested in a calm, reasonable and rational debate about the finer points of the situation. That's not the point. The point is to undermine your credibility and your scepticism of Blair's policy towards Iran. Get ready and steel yourself, for far worse to come in the coming months and years!

    Blair has escalated the conflict from the beginning. Whether he does this conciously and maliceously, or whether he's just a fool is hard to say. Personally I think people have overestimated his abilities and intelligence from day one. He lacks substance and attention to detail, and attention to detail regarding this issue is paramount, if one wishes to find a solution.

    Why antagonize Iran? Because fundamentally one does not recognize the legitimacy or territorial integregity of the Iranian regime. We are "probing" their defences and reactions in more ways than many ways at the moment. In the Guardian today there's an article which states that sources in the Foreign Offic are uneasy with Blair's tactics, that he's too emotional, reckless and has made things worse by going to the security council too quickly. He's march his troops to the top of the hill alright, but where do we go from here?

    You are obviously an educated, intelligent and civilized man, like David Kelly. What happened to him when he fell into the spin meat-grinder. Fighting people like Blair requires fortitude, courage and stregth. Qualities I'm sure you have. But it's a mistake to judge Blair by his boyish demenour and especially when he begins to use seventies, teenage-speak. Underneath the surface is the cold, titanium skull of the terminator robot killing machine.

  • Veeseykoosey

    I had two thoughts on seeing an article on this incident – one, oh, no, not Tonkin Gulf again, and later, it's like the Shatt al-Arab, which Iraq and Iran wasted the lives of many of their soldiers over for too long in the 1980s.

    In other words, I think the official view is rather reminiscent of an incident in the late 1890s or was it the early 1900s, when the German Empire complained about the mistreatment faced by German subjects in Morocco. Since there were no German subjects at that time in Morocco, one had to sneak in specifically to be mistreated and thus rescued by the German Empire's forces.

    Of course, maritime borders are probably the most difficult of all borders to define. A good part of that can be laid at the doors of the vastly enlarged Exclusive Economic Zones, and the enlargement of territorial waters occasioned by the improved enforcement of one's nation's law as a result of improved technology. A good instance of the difficulty can be seen in the negotiations over the East Timor/Northern Territory maritime borders during the Indonesian occupation and later, after East Timor Independence; also in the New Zealand/Australian maritime borders in the NZ North/Australian East.

    I expect that if this incident is treated as a casus belli, within the year we'll have the US dollar treated as Confederate currency, and nicknamed the US ruble. And OPEC permanently disbarring payment in the US dollar for valid convertability reasons and fraud worries.

  • Boss

    Which 'Emperor' was it, whom granting an audience to any of his conquering generals, appointed one of the usual court lickspittles, to accompany the approaching general, while whispering; ' remember thou art mortal' in the approaching General's ear?

    These days anyone daring to entertain any notions of not harrumphing our 'Dear' 'Great' 'Leader', and his 'Christian Way' of beating the devil out of those Johnny foreigners, in those far flung lands (normally endowed with hydrocarbons, minerals, and other coveted resources) through a good old fashioned crusade, by killing them, and converting the remaining un-dead to democracy, handing them a ballot paper (normally with a number identifier, for the candidate name) to be marked by these 'enlightened, free and democratic' un-dead, and then proceed to write for them a constitution (so there is a written record for the future prevarications) privatising everything on their lands, included the babies cots, for the benefit of 'Free Trade', that is trade in which the buyer pays nothing, and the seller forfeits the goods (although some would argue that all those bullets, shells, and rockets, personnel, equipment and depreciation, or destruction thereof whichever happens first, are the price the ungrateful johnny foreigners receive in payment, anyway!).

    In a sort of inverse 'back to the future', same methods are deployed, for the host of detractors of our Leaderabend to be reminded; 'remember thine ass can be Andrew Gilligan-ed, Terry Lloyd-ed, or worst still Kelly-ed'. This goes in some way to explain the emollient approach of news editors, and producers alike, in charge of the nice newsman on the telly to all things concerning our Leaderabend, and his notions of governance, and dealing with the affairs of state. As well as the rags, and publications, that tell us are our voices in the face of power (my foot never bought a paper now for umpteen years)

    Notwithstanding all these media professionals eking a living out of their trade, those whom have little or nothing to gain from the customary wanton grovelling, speaking their minds are dealt with as per the Washhouse Protocols. ie subjected to personal attacks, called names, while the whispering campaign is initiated to indicate these have an 'agenda' and or are in bed with the enemy, and or are, idealist not living in the 'real world'! All to bully the detractors into silence, and or discount their proposition in a flurry of noise, and accusations. So Craig take comfort your are in the illustrious company of many honourable men, whom have spoken their mind, and we all know are treated as good as you, or in some cases far more worse than you.

    Meanwhile Back at the Ranch;

    1- The initial co-ordinates supplied by the Iranians, have been portrayed as some two and one half of a mile inside the Iraqi territorial waters, as per the megaphone diplomacy under way.

    Now we all know numbers mean maths, and co-ordinates mean algebra, which means we can trust our experts to interpret the results for us, without taxing our brains, with such mysterious and dark arts such as maths, and logic. However, fact that despite the presence of all the killing hardware wandering around the place, those devilish Persians invade the Iraqi territories, without so much as a single check, and or a nod from those in charge of the high calibre guns, machine guns, and rockets! Further they 'kidnap' our 'mother of the three years old' along with some more sailors and marines!!!! (the cheek of it all)

    Alas, the point goes missing amid the good laugh at the Persian navigators, whom cannot read, or decipher a compass, never mind the outputs from the GPS, clearly implicating themselves, and advertising it too! (Give them two and one half of miles, and they 'kidnap' your personnel too, what is world coming to? (time to do a '300' the movie on them, and nuke them to kingdom come, won't you say?!!!))

    2- We are not privy to any of the back room transactions between us, and them, but thanks to channel four and Jon Snow, the co-ordinates given by the Iranians are clarified (somewhat) to be the extremities of the area subject to dispute.

    This revelation somehow is not entertained anywhere else, and on goes the chuckle, and up rises the ire of indignation.

    3- Confused, there is worst still to come. Margaret Becket harangues from atop of her caravan; 'give us the proof, that our sailors, and 'mother of there years old' are safe and well, show us the proof'!!!!.

    So outgoes the package on the Iranian telly; our men having a hearty meal, and satiating their hunger, looking healthy and well. In response the Washhouse Protocols dictate, only to highlight the barbarity and the humiliation that our people are facing, as well as emphasising; 'confused state of affairs'.

    You see the formula is pretty straight forward; In the west (that is US, UK, sometimes Germany, occasionally Frenchies) the opposition to, and ruling factions are clearly a healthy indicator of checks, and balances, in case of the johnny foreigners it is only a clear and patent indicator of the 'confused' hotchpotch of ruling factions! (too many chiefs, and no Indians ayyye? Chauvinism rules OK)

    4- The technicalities, are fielded to confuse, and obfuscate any clarity surrounding a border dispute, with a view to promote the notions of ill disposed Persians to master any technology, never mind a 'nukoolar' one at that, further technicalities can only be understood by those fusspots whom insist on some mathematical contextualisation to justify their living, but the ordinary man living in the 'real world' needs to be assured that he is getting balanced information, hence the useful outside expert from Bahrain, whose 'wasta' qualifies him to be associate proff and is of the same mind concerning the Persian Peril, and their odious leader. Hence the interjection.

    5- As already mentioned by Craig, now that der Leaderabend has managed to take up position on the hill top, where is he going to go from here? Despite the expressions of solidarity, he is clearly, and politely isolated, whilst leaving the fate of the personnel involved to their maker, and compounding the agony of their families, by playing politics of such odious magnitude.

    John Major not so long ago went on record, by stating; 'I can see the strain and the toll of the office in Blair's face' in other words John Major in his inimitable understating fashion, tried to tell der Leaderbned, a simple fact; you are off your rocker mate, he who lies with dogs gets up with fleas, so the proverb goes, surrounding yourself with the cabal of far right operators, and outright Zionists, what else could you expect the outcome to be?

  • Craig


    Actually it was a slave on the chariot of generals in the Roman triumph who reminded them of their mortality.

  • Boss

    Hi Craig,

    Thanks for clarifying the point further. Which highlights the imperatives of slaves for such acts of wanton craven behaviour, however how those so called public commentators, rent an expert mob, and the great and the good of the news media, can explain away the almost sycophantic cognitive dissonance that apparently has beset them all?

    Ray McGovern et al have have issued a memo, in which they refer to your contentions, and further clarify the need for cautious conduct in the face of the almost hysterical events of past few days, on the part of those actors, and their slavish fans' conduct in the news media, in counter punch;

    The actualities surrounding the neo-realities of the past six years, evidently point to the 'B Movie' script writers reigning as policy advisers, with the resultant bizarre Alice in Wonderland world we all find ourselves in.

    The captain of Cornwall going on record; 'we were in our waters', some would say a Freudian slip, others would realise the firm menace of Imperial undertones of centuries gone by. Nonetheless clearly indicative of the the stale mindsets that are still fighting the last war, regardless of the actualities unfolding on the ground in Iraq, and Afghanistan.

    Further, the untold and less publicised are the weltanschauung of the handful degenerates, whom verily believe in financial advantages to be found in global conflagrations, and world wars, as conveyed by no less than Mr. Paul Wolfowitz, formerly Deputy Secretary of Defence in Pentagon, and currently serving as the president of the World Bank Group in his address in Michie Stadium, West Point, NY, on Saturday, June 02, 2001, delivering the following speech;

    '…… At the beginning of the last century, the British economist Norman Angell published a runaway best seller that must have drawn the attention of professors and cadets of West Point at that time. Angell argued that the idea that nations could profit from war was obsolete. It had become, as he titled his book, The Great Illusion. International finance, he argued, had become so interdependent and so interwoven with trade and industry that it had rendered war unprofitable.

    One of Angell's disciples, David Starr Jordan, the President of an institution on the West Coast called Stanford University, argued that war in Europe, though much threatened, would never come. ''The bankers,'' he said, ''will not find the money for such a fight; the industries will not maintain it; the statesmen cannot. There will be no general war.'' Unfortunately for him, he made that prediction in 1913. One year later, Archduke Franz Ferdinand fell to an assassin's bullet, plunging Europe into a war more terrible than any that had come before it. The notion of the Great Illusion yielded to the reality of the Great War.

    One hundred years later, we live, once again, in a time of great hopes for world peace and prosperity. Our chances of realizing those hopes will be greater if we use the benefit of hindsight to replace a poverty of expectations with an anticipation of the unfamiliar and the unlikely……'

    Hence, it is the duty of everyone of us to the last man, to ensure that these malevolent parasitic individuals do not gamble with the future of whole of the humanity, just because they lack the desired amounts of funds, resources, and or are plain bored silly with their dicky bladders, and the urgency of reliving themselves on the whole of humanity just for the sake of fun of it all.

  • moron99

    don't get your point. I see how maritime borders aren't absolute unless formally agreed upon. But after that you don't seem to make much sense.

    It seems like you are trying to say that it is okay to use force. By using force a country can keep a border disputed. Hmmm … if your first point is truly legitimate then it makes this false. But if your first point is false then the entire position is meaningless. Irregardless of the self-conflicting nature of these two views there still seems to be the overwhelming stupidity of using force to keep a diplomatic disagreement alive. Wouldn't it be better and easier to have a diplomat issue a formal statement of dispute?

    So I kind of get your point but it just doesn't seem to make any sense. You should explain it better for us simple minded people.

  • Craig

    Moron 99,

    No, I am not saying it's OK to use force. I am saying quite the opposite. I am saying that the danger of Kaikobad's position is that, if accepted, it could encourage the use of force, which is one reason I differ from Kaikobad's position.

  • Randal

    I think the point about force is a little overstated. The key is to maintain the position by some public indication that the border is not accepted. That includes confronting intruders physically, but it can also include verbal declarations.

    I have no standing to discuss UNCLOS, but based upon your comments, Craig, it looks to me as though somebody sensibly wanted to shift disputes towards the latter and away from the former.

    Anyway, what I do know is that in the past physical enforcement of territorial claims has been regarded as perfectly legitimate (and has also been the cause of armed clashes and even wars). It is up to both sides to ensure that such incidents are defused effectively.

    In this particular case, Patrick Cockburn has what seems to me to be a very persuasive piece speculating on the reasons for the Iranian actions, in the Independent:

    The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis

    Anyone who still sticks to the naive idea that the US and UK have any moral standing to criticise Iran's actions should carefully consider exactly what the US did, and what the US actions show about the attitude of the US to sovereignty and to international law.

    And then think about those poor Iranian guys who have disappeared into the hell of US custody with no recourse and no hope, for months.

    PS Good job on Newsnight last night, Craig. Got the point across effectively, I think. Now I'll watch to see if the BBC change their description of the border status in future news broadcasts.

  • moron99

    well, okay …. but then I still don't get it. The brits were either seized in iraqi waters or in what is effectively neutral waters since both nations have an equal measure of viable claim. The opportunity existed to say "oops, sorry" but was passed over. There seems to have been a conscious decision to do be intentionally provocative.

    randall, your link doesn't work. but i figure it's probably pointing to the same thing other people point at while they jump up and down saying "they did it first!". Hmmm … i don't think inside of iraq is disputed territory and I find the silence rather deafening … Especially since the sciri guys bend over backwards to avoid conflict with iran. it says to me that the iranians in custody were up to no good and everybody knows it. or put differently – nobody wants to make a big deal out of it because it will only lead to their own exposure. it doesn't qualify as justifiable cause. personally I think the reason is not to be found in iraq as much as tehran. Specifically, too many people started showing up at the protests.

  • Randal

    "randall, your link doesn't work"

    It's just a copy and paste of the web address – you never know how much html will work on blog sites.

    "i figure it's probably pointing to the same thing other people point at while they jump up and down saying "they did it first!""

    Yes. But it's a particularly well done example.

    "There seems to have been a conscious decision to do be intentionally provocative."

    The way I see it, Britain stopping ships in disputed waters is inherently provocative, but the Iranians have probably mostly turned a blind eye in the past (with at least one notable exception, of course). Partly, that's because they are faced with overwhelming military force and have to tread carefully. The different approach on this occasion is in my opinion probably a direct response to the US kidnapping of Iranian operatives referred to in the linked article. Iran "arresting" these people was legitimate, if confrontational. Detaining them and extracting confessions out of them is unreasonable and unpleasant, but so long as they have been otherwise well treated and are released in due course, is not really a big deal in the scheme of things (though very unpleasant for the individuals themselves and their families).

    The correct response from our government would have been, as the professionals wanted from the start, to quietly accept that there is room for disagreement on the boundary and do a deal for the release. Unforunately, No.10 went in with the size 10s and used the incident as an opportunity for jingoism. In my opinion, that was done deliberately because Blair needs more popular hostility to Iran in order to bolster his own credentials as a leader and to give him more room to press the ongoing attempt to restrict Iran's legitimate right to develop nuclear power. Those more charitably inclined towards Blair could reasonably argue it is merely his usual incompetence – selecting bluster when it was inappropriate to do so.

    However, given that the US (with whom we are very closely identified in the region) has established a pattern of arrogant disregard for Iraqi and Iranian sovereignty and has demonstrated that it is entirely unconstrained by international law, how else can the Iranians possibly respond except with this kind of tit for tat?

    Provocation on all sides, in other words.

    "i don't think inside of iraq is disputed territory and I find the silence rather deafening …"

    The silence is only deafening in our media, which follows the US in showing no respect for Iranian or Iraqi sovereignty. In fact, not only have the Iranians made no secret of their outrage at the US's high-handed thuggery, but both the Kurds and the Iraqi government protested.

    To no avail, of course, because for the US, might makes right.

  • moron99

    randall – the silence is also deafening in the blogosphere. The blogosphere, unlike mainstream media, is an arena in which all points of view are very well represented. Even those who walk in lockstep with the Iranian regime have been abnormally silent (and yes, I do believe that they have people on payroll whose job is to make their point of view heard). That is not to say that objections have not been noted. They have. But they are only half-heartedly offerred, lightly defended, and quickly abandoned. In the mideast one does not so easily abandon his position when there is a genuine propaganda opportunity. nay – it is a red herring intended for consumption by gullible westerners.

    If you were paying attention then you noticed that the rumors about an april 6 attack preceded this series of events. If you were paying really close attention then you see the striking similarity to both the pre-election rumors and the choices of nasrallah in Lebanon.

    I suspect that you are not the type to be easily fooled. So I think that you must be so consumed with a politcal agenda that you will willingly overlook the obvious. You know – that's not always a good thing.

  • Randal

    I would not take whatever particular elements of the "blogosphere" you follow (it's too big for anyone to follow the whole of it) as being nearly as reliable an indicator as you seem to.

    Whatever, time will doubtless make the picture clearer.

    Cockburn has a follow up today in the Independent:

    Britain vs Iran: A high-stakes game of chess

    "The stand-off over the 15 British sailors and marines captured by Iran looks to be moving towards a de facto prisoner exchange, despite denials by Britain and Iran that a swap was intended.

    The first sign of a breakthrough yesterday was the release of Jalal Sharafi, an Iranian diplomat abducted from the streets of Baghdad two months ago, whom Iran claimed had been seized by Iraqi commandos controlled by the US. At the same time, an Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said the Iraqi government was "intensively" seeking the release of five Iranian officials captured in a US helicopter raid on a long-established Iranian liaison office in the Kurdish capital of Arbil in January."

    You seem to be adopting the position that you have no problem with the actions of the US in this case because you have a hunch the people they seized were "up to no good". If that is an accurate assessment of your position, then I think it is very naive. Not only does the record show the US government generally gets the wrong people, but as an operating principle it is precisely what I referred to above: the negation of law and process and the exercise of brute power inhibited only by considerations of what can be gotten away with. The only possible responses to that are surrender or tit for tat. I do not at all blame the Iranians if they prefer the latter.

  • moron99

    you underestimate the blogosphere and overestimate our media. It is not the individual authors of one blog or another that convey the greatest information and insight. It is the wide tapestry of opinion and discussion amoung their readers – many of whom back their opinions with links to mainstream media. For the discerning reader the blogoshpere is a vastly superior source of news.

    Our media can not compete for a number of reasons:

    1) When operating in the mideast or other closed societies our western media is subject to the whims and deceptions of state authorization. Blog commentors can state their opinion without fear of persecution, punishment, or loss of future access.

    2) The articles in our media are dependant upon only one set of eyes for each story wheras the blogs will offer dozens of different perspectives on the same event(s).

    3) Group think. If I lived solely amoung moonies then I would find myself discerning between moderate, conservative, and liberal moonies without ever realizing that the center of my axis is skewed from the general public. Similarly, our media professionals operate on a skewed axis without ever realizing it and what they see as objective is actually not.

    I started following blogs in 2002 due to a Hollywood humor blog by a guy calling himself Rance. When war erupted I followed both media and blogs at first. For domestic news there is none better than our media. For international news our media only gives half the story and is easily manipulated by various governemnets and propaganda agencies. If you only get your international information from our media then you are, at best, half-blind and hard-of-hearing. They show you threads when life is actually a tapestry.

    reagrding the iranian diplomats – I think it was done jointly between Iraq and US with the US assumming the role of bad cop and Iraq assumming the role of good cop. I also believe that they went into US custody rather than Iraqi specifically to avoid Iraqi culpability. Reports have come in that a large number of Iranian RGs have turned themselves over to (defected) MNF/ISF in the past few months. My belief is that the trail of information led back to the individuals in custody and when US/Iraq are satisfied that either a) the conduit for cell supply is permanently disabled – or – b) they have gotten all useful information ==>> then the individuals will be released and Iraq will assume the role of the good cop who secured bail.

  • moron99

    per randall:

    You seem to be adopting the position that you have no problem with the actions of the US in this case because you have a hunch the people they seized were "up to no good".

    answer –

    yes that is correct. No problem at all. I think it is very important that Iraq and Iran have healthy and permanent relations. But I also think that it is very important for Iraq to send the message to Tehran that they will not be allowed to construct another state-within-a-state as they did in Lebanon. I think that the path chosen was the best way to accomplish that goal.

  • Randal

    I don't disagree with most of your comments on the "blogosphere", with some caveats. But for all the faults of the mainstream media (many of which are very greatly mitigated when you consider the position globally, rather than within one nation, or aligned group of nations), it still remains the case that the "blogosphere" is largely parasitic upon it so far as news gathering is concerned, for various reasons. The best way to gather information is to use all available sources, and treat each on its individual merits.

    Anyway, you cannot yet rely on the concerns of the "blogosphere" (aka the global chattering classes) as a guide to what is important or significant in international affairs.

    As to the US kidnapping of Iranians in Arbil, we clearly will have to agree to disagree. I see no evidence beyond wishful thinking to support your theory that the Iraqi and US governments were acting in secret collusion. Indeed, it seems entirely at odds with the reality that the Iraqi government (though not necessarily the Iraqi people) is much more fundamentally in sympathy with Iran than with the US, which is basically tolerated by Dawa, SCIRI and (more reluctantly, perhaps) Sadr solely because it fights their battles against the Sunnis and Baathists. The Kurds are the one possible exception, but it is the Kurds these Iranians were visiting and working with at the time of their kidnapping!

    In general, this is not a case of American good guys versus Iranian/Sunni etc bad guys.

    If there are bad guys and good guys in Iraq, then the Americans are certainly amongst the bad guys, if only because they are the aggressors.

    But this is an area in which we are unlikely to persuade each other to change our opinions.

  • moron99

    if you frequent western media and western internet sites then you will find that the blogs are dominated by regurgitated media information that fits the author's political point of view. If you frequent western media and mideast internet sites then you will find the media full of regurgutated information that fits the author's political point of view.

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