The Nether-World

March 24, 2007

Thi Iranian Crisis

Filed under: Iran, israel, UN — netherworld @ 10:15 pm

In previous reporting about the crisis with Iran, I mentioned that with all the naval power being used to by the West to pressure the regime, there was an increased possibility of an incident taking place that could escalate into something more serious. Sooner or later, the provocations and intimidations being used both rhetorically and physically were going to bear fruit. It looks like this is what is happening with the reports we are hearing of 15 British sailors being captured by Iran.

A degree of caution is needed in talking about this latest incident as we do not have all the facts yet. But already there are more than one way of looking at this story. We could just accept the majority of media reports that stress that the British sailors were *not* in Iranian waters and were captured as part of a planned effort by the Iranians in order to use them as bargaining chips in the nuclear issue negotiated at the UN Security Council (more on that shortly). Or we could be open to the possibility at least that the sailors either did accidentally ‘stray’ into Iranian waters and were legitimately arrested for it. There is also the possibility that the intentions of the sailors were more sinister. At the moment there is no way of knowing the truth and so it’s probably wise to reserve judgement for the moment and restrict ourselves to speculation.

On thing I think we can take for granted is that any ‘confessions‘ made by the sailors while in Iranian custody can be taken with a pinch of salt. Both Britain and Iran are claiming they have evidence that proves the sailors were where each side says they were (either in Iraqi or Iranian waters respectively). Until this evidence is examined and made public no real determination as to who is right can be made. The last time this happened, back in 2004, it seems that the British personnel were indeed in Iranian waters and though this story is being repeated in the media, the point that British military were not where they were supposed to be on that occasion is not being stressed.

There is another fact that we can take for granted. With British personnel in Iranian custody, it will be much easier to turn public opinion against Iran and justify any future attack on that country. In this respect this incident is a propaganda coup for those who want a conflict with Iran. And if Iran thought that capturing British sailors would help them in this respect then it may well have shot itself in the foot. So far the Iranians have been fairly competent in their diplomacy and military actions, so it seems a little strange that they would resort to such a clumsy tactic now unless they thought they were genuinely defending their territory. However, the provocations on the Iranian regime have escalated sharply over the last three years with the American neo-cons, and, of course, Israel salivating at the prospect of another war.

As well as the British and American naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, there is also the ‘surge’ of American troops in the region and the deployment of Patriot missile batteries. And, of course, the extreme provocation of Iran with the recent kidnap of Iranian diplomats or consular staff by the Americans. This alone may be seen by the Iranians as a justification for its actions.

We cannot detach this incident from the activities at the UN Security Council which has just unanimously passed a new resolution against Iran over its alleged (but unproven) nuclear weapons program. This resolution means a tougher sanctions regime on Iran and strangely, expresses the hope that it will lead to further negotiations. I’d argue that this resolution will have the opposite effect and negotiations will be more difficult to achieve, particularly when America is so reluctant to negotiate (or do anything which doesn’t meet with Israel’s approval). Some of the ambassadors at the UN tried to argue for a nuclear free Middle East but were unable to get their message articulated in concrete terms. It seems that the main powers do not want a nuclear free Middle East but instead one where there is a single nuclear armed power which can impose its will over its neighbours. For this reason the new resolution is unfair and one should question just what pressures were put on the countries that had reservations about this misuse of international law by the powerful. Iran was predictably unimpressed by the new sanctions but shows no inclination to bend to the will of America, Britain and Israel the UN. Before long Iran will feel compelled to use its biggest asset as a weapon – oil. If Iran decides that the world needs a reminder of how dependent it is on oil and cuts the flow of it through the Strait of Hormuz then prices will soar and war will be inevitable. Just to show how sensitive the oil market is, look what happened to oil prices when 15 British sailors were captured.

On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, no one should need reminding of the the dangers of pre-emptively attacking an unpleasant regime.

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October 5, 2006

The “unseemly” horse trading at the UN: Jobs for the boys or a prelude to war?

Filed under: Iran, Lebanon, UK Politics, UN, US Politics — netherworld @ 5:24 am

I have to admit I was a bit surprised to hear about the extraordinary unanimity in the choice of Ban Ki Moon as the likely successor to Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the UN when he stands down at the end of this year. I needn’t have been that surprised. Behind the scenes there was, it seems, an awful lot of argument about the selection of Ban Ki Moon, mostly from the five permanent members of the security council, particularly Britain, and what the horse trading was about was getting top jobs for British officials.

BRITAIN has demanded a key United Nations policy job as the price of supporting the man likely to become the new UN Secretary-General.

Before throwing its weight behind Ban Ki Moon, the South Korean in the leading position to succeed Kofi Annan, the Government set out conditions that included the promise of top jobs for British officials.

The “unseemly” horse trading also involved other countries, according to diplomatic sources. It took place behind closed doors before Mr Ban cleared the latest hurdle — an informal straw poll of the 15-strong Security Council — earlier this week.

“It was like the European states carving up Africa in the 19th century,” one diplomat at the UN said. “The very same countries that lecture the UN on the need to reform and to make appointments based on merit were the ones pressing for their candidates to be given top jobs.”


In particular, the British want to reclaim the job of under-secretary-general for the Department of Political Affairs, responsible for all the main international crises, including the Middle East, Iran, North Korea and other flashpoints.

“The British made it clear to Ban Ki Moon that this was a condition for their support,” said another source, who added that the same negotiations took place when Mr Annan became Secretary-General.

So Britain wants to have a key role in the political affairs of the Middle East, Iran and North Korea. Well that’s not so surprising. It is interesting however in the light of this:

We bring to the attention of our readers, this carefully documented review of the ongoing naval build-up and deployment of coalition forces in the Middle East.

The article examines the geopolitics behind this military deployment and its relationship to the Battle for Oil.

The structure of military alliances is crucial to an understanding of these war preparations.

The naval deployment is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Both Israel and NATO are slated to play a major role in the US-led war.

The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean is broadly under the jurisdiction of NATO in liaison with Israel. Directed against Syria, it is conducted under the façade of a UN peace-keeping mission pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1701. In this context, the war on Lebanon must be viewed as a stage of a the broader US sponsored military road-map.

The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada.

The naval buildup is coordinated with the planned air attacks. The planning of the aerial bombings of Iran started in mid-2004, pursuant to the formulation of CONPLAN 8022 in early 2004. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

These war plans must be taken very seriously.

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, a long war, which threatens the future of humanity.

In the weeks ahead, it is essential that citizens’ movements around the world act consistently to confront their respective governments and reverse and dismantle this military agenda.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called Homeland Security agenda which has already defined the contours of a police State.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

The above quote is the editor’s note at the head of a long, detailed and well-sourced article by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya of Global Research entitled The March to War: Naval Build-Up in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean (via Truthout which has put in other links to the relevant articles). The article and the long list of links at the end point to a very disturbing pattern which makes a bigger Middle Eastern war look all but inevitable. It’s worth reading the whole piece. There has been plenty of speculation in recent months about the possibility of an attack on Iran and/or Syria, so much so that I decided to comment further on it only when there was evidence of the necessary troop build-up. This looks like evidence of a such a build-up, much more secretive than the blatent military massing prior to the Iraq war. It might explain why Britain is so eager to muscle in on top UN positions.

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