April 22, 2008
Boy Do I Hate Being Right All the Time
From The Times of London:
Fifteen British sailors and Marines were seized by Iran in internationally disputed waters and not in Iraq’s maritime territory as Parliament was told...Via Jon Schwarz.
Newly released Ministry of Defence documents state that:
— The arrests took place in waters that are not internationally agreed as Iraqi;
— The coalition unilaterally designated a dividing line between Iraqi and Iranian waters in the Gulf without telling Iran where it was;
— The Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ coastal protection vessels were crossing this invisible line at a rate of three times a week; It was the British who apparently raised their weapons first before the Iranian gunboats came alongside...
Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, repeatedly told the Commons that the personnel were seized in Iraqi waters.
The MoD, in a televised briefing by Vice-Admiral Charles Style, the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, produced a map showing a line in the sea called “Iraq/Iran Territorial Water Boundary”. A location was given for the capture of the Britons inside what the chart said were “Iraq territorial waters”. But the newly released top-level internal briefing accepts that no such border exists.
The report, addressed to Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, the Chief of the Defence Staff, blames the incident on the absence of an agreed boundary and a failure to coordinate between Iraq, Iran and the coalition.
Under the heading “Why the incident occurred”, the report examines the history of a border that has been disputed since a treaty between the Persian and Ottoman empires in 1639.
Professor Robert Springborg, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, said yesterday that it was negligent to fail to clarify with the Iranians where the notional boundary was.
And, yes, that's the same Robert Springborg that enraged Bob Hawke during the Gulf War. Background for those unfamiliar. This presumably presents an opportunity for Gerard Henderson to complain about the London Times' left-wing bias.