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Saturday, March 24, 2007


Whose border?

15 British sailors were arrested (the corporate media says "kidnapped") by Iran for entering Iranian waters illegally. On BBC World last night, I heard a British military man claim that the sailors were on "our side of the border." Really? I wasn't aware that British territorial waters extended to the Shatt al Arab. "Our" side indeed.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports today that Iran is saying that the British sailors have confessed to being in Iranian waters (as I write this, the Iranian News Agency carries no such story the Iranian News Agency story). The interesting sentence in the Guardian article is this one, the last: "Britain was treating it as a mistake rather than a provocation." I wonder if that means Britain is claiming its sailors made a "mistake," or whether it's the Iranian arrest of the sailors that Britain is treating as a mistake and not a provocation. Very unclear. But for sure the confession will complicate Britain's job. Of course they'll claim at first it was coerced. But when that story falls apart, then what?

The fact is that, on whatever side of the Iraq-Iran border the event occurred, it's obvious that the British sailors knew very well they were "pushing their luck" and operating close to that line. In the heightened state of tensions caused by the continuous U.S./U.K./Israeli threats against Iran, such an action can only be considered a provocation, whether they actually "crossed the line" or not. Just imagine how the U.S. would react if an Iranian warship were to sail down the coast of the U.S., 100 yards outside the U.S. territorial limit.

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