First step towards a realistic approach? 2

Firstly, many thanks to the Mail on Sunday for being the first bit of the mainstream media ready to give a fair hearing to what I have been saying, and to try and understand the situation rather than just belt out propaganda.

At a working level, Whitehall is trying to get reality back into the British position, though this may get stomped on again by the spin doctors. One of my many friends within the FCO has seen minutes between officials discussing “Craig Murray’s points” on the border question and whether admitting the border is unclear could be a path to getting our people back (Freedom of Information request for that minuting, anyone?).

The Observer today gives the first hint that the MOD may be looking to backtrack on its unsustainable border claims:

“But the Ministry of Defence hinted for the first time it may have made mistakes surrounding the incident. An inquiry has been commissioned to explore ‘navigational’ issues around the kidnapping and aspects of maritime law.”

Iran snubs UK olive branch

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2 thoughts on “First step towards a realistic approach?

  • writeon

    Yeah, this is indeed positive news and in the Mail on Sunday! That would appear to indicate that "elements" critical of Tony Blair's tactics in relation to Iran, are not only counter-productive, but, because they don't seem to have worked, can be used against him and New Labour politically.

    Getting reality back into the situation is exactly what needs to be done, reality, reason and diplomacy. Clearly deepening the crisis with Iran has not worked, in fact it has only made things worse. It must drive people in the FO nuts, knowing that Blair will be gone soon, and they will have to clear up his mess, something that could take years.

    On a wider, but not unconnected note. Why do we, time after time, by our actions and policies undermine the "moderates" in Iran and strengthen the arguments and credibility of the "extremists"? It seems odd. We know the moderates have been trying deparately to open channels to the West and offering some interesting perspectives for future co-opperation on a whole range of issues relating to the Middle East. So why do we reject their overtures?

    Is it because the price is too high? Or is it because regime change is the top priority and anything that "ligitimizes" the current Iranian system cannot be accepted?

  • Rwendland

    As well as the maritime law/navigation issues, I wonder if anyone knows if there is any significance to the puzzling differences between the early reports from the journalists on the HMS Cornwall, and the MOD press conference:

    a) Early reports from the Press Association and The Times say the MOD gave the time of capture as 10:30 local time, whereas the MOD press briefing implies the time of capture was 09:10 or a little later, after comms was lost when the Navy 15 left the Indian flagged Merchant Vessel whose GPS location was given (though this is not a definitive the time of capture).

    b) The New York Times and other sources report Ian Pannell, the BBC journalist on HMS Cornwall, saying the Navy 15 were captured after they had boarded and inspected "a small merchant vessel known as a dhow, a type in common use in the Gulf". This does not sound like the quite large anchored Indian flagged Merchant Vessel whose GPS location was given, but might be the barges reported elsewhere as unloading cars from the larger vessel.

    c) Terri Judd of The Independent, who went out with the Navy 15 on the RIBs the day before, reports that the Navy 15 planned, in consultation with senior officers, to investigate the smugglers on barges who had irked them the day before.

    Of course these discrepencies may very well be due to mistakes in early news reports. But there seems some room for the possibility that after leaving the large Indian vessel at 09:10 the Navy 15 chased and boarded dhows/barges until 10:30 when they were caught somewhere else. For this speculation to fit with the MOD press conference info, the helicopter would have to have taken about 1 hour 20 mins to get to and find the RIBs, and the RIBs carried on patrolling with failed comms – sounds rather unlikely, but possible. But it is an explanation which permits the GPS locations given by both the Royal Navy and the Iranians to all be correct.

    Contrary to this speculation, the MOD press release says "Debriefing of the helicopter crew and a conversation with the master of the merchant ship both indicate that the boarding team were ambushed while disembarking from the merchant vessel." But that says "indicate", rather than being a definitive view.

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