Mar 24, 2007

Reading Iranian Tea Leaves

British marines patrolling the Shatt Al Arab waterway outside Basra (AP)

Reports that 15 British marines were seized Friday by two Iranian vessels in the Shatt al-Arab waterway sparked outrage in the Britain and the United States. Coming on the heels of the news that the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to impose new sanctions on Iran, the detention of the British military personnel has the potential to be a spark leading to a wider regional conflict.

Some see the two events as connected, believing that the Iranians may be using the 15 men as bargaining chips against the UN sanctions. Under this scenario, Iran could be seen as sending a signal to the West about the future consequences of sanctions.

It is more likely, though, that the actions by Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Quds forces were to secure the release of five Iranians who were arrested by US troops at the Iranian embassy in Irbil, Iraq.

Official word has not been delivered by the Iranian government on the status of the British marines, but the newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted an Iranian military source who said that the aim was to trade the Royal Marines and sailors for the Iranians detained at Irbil.

The incident between Iranian and British military personnel occurred in the Shatt al-Arab waterway (known in Persian history as the Arvandrud), which begins at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and continues some 125 miles to the Persian Gulf. Control of this strategic waterway has long been a source of conflict between Arabs and Persians, and was one of the most hotly contested items in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

Both Iran and Iraq use the river as a commercial thoroughfare, and officials in both nations fear losing access to the Gulf through the waterway. With the 1975 Algiers Accord, both sides agreed to honor a median boundary in the Arvandrud/Shatt al-Arab.

Some pundits will see the Iranian act as an excuse to escalate the growing conflict between the United States and Iran, and possibly justify a military attack on Iran. "Wild Bill" at the far-right Passionate America sums up the metality of the war hawks, and I'm not sure he is using hyperbole:
Tony Blair I beg you, stiffen your spine, readjust your sack, and turn sand into glass. Call Israel, call Bush, and call the thunder from down under and give these sand monkeys what they want, nuclear weapons.
I can only pray that the views expressed by "Wild Bill" are not shared by American and British leaders.


Dariush said...


Is "Wild Bill" your first exposure to this segment of the population?

The past few months, through no choice of my own, I've had to listen to a lot of "conservative talk radio" -- or as I, more accurately, call it, White Nationalist Radio.

It really is amazing. Never have I come across a people as throughly (and PROUDLY) insular, ignorant, bloodthirsty and completely wedded to the idea of their own perpetual victimhood and eternal righteousness. The "culture of grievance" which they always attribute to whomever the hated minority of the day is, has never found a more natural and perfect home than amongst themselves.

To quote Dennis Perrin:

"I know that intelligent, sane Americans exist, because if they didn't, this country would be in utter chaos with fires raging everywhere, cars overturned, homes broken into and looted, and countless people hanging by their necks from lightposts and traffic signals, if not simply shot in their heads. Still, this hideous scenario remains possible. Should a major societal or economic breakdown occur, we are very much fucked, if those who phone into radio shows represent the majority. Stupid doesn't come close to what these people are. Stupid I can handle. Aggressively moronic is containable as well. But paranoia, tribalism, and a seething resentment toward those who are "different" is a recipe for an American Iraq. And no, our Democratic "leaders" won't save us. Those who don't leave on private jets will probably be among the first to be strung up, assuming they don't play to the mobs and finger their colleagues and constituents instead."

I couldn't agree more. And while "our leaders" have yet to pander to this seething, resentful mass of eager vicarious murderers, some of those on the fringe are.

Tom Tancredo, for example, not only calls for the nuking of Mecca, but (color me shocked since I just equated "Italian" with "Catholic") also believes that "illegal immigration" is a plot hatched by the Papacy in order to Catholicize America.

There is a very real possibility that come another terrorist attack, massive natural disaster, or something happening to the dollar, this place could light up in a way that will make Bosnia look like the "It's a Small World" ride in Disney World.

I can tell you that personally I've found myself drawing closer to other Muslims, Latinos, Hindus, Armenians, Africans, West Indians and African-Americans and more and more distant from, and distrustful towards, "the majority population" -- even at work.

I also find myself employing words, both in my writings and in my dialogue with others, that weren't even in my vocabulary two or three years ago -- words like "cracker," "peckerwood" and "toothless sister-f**er".

Btw, if any of the above mentioned groups are reading this, I have one question to ask you?

Where do you think the term


comes from?

When your ancestors were painting their faces blue and howling at the moon, mine were inventing chess.

If you think it's gonna be easy, you've got another thing coming.

Hooda Thunkit said...

It's hard to tell what's going on in this, the birthplace of civilization, with everybody each having their own truth.

However left to the business interests, an accommodation would be reached. Business, if nothing else, manages to make things work.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Dariush only hates the Jews.

He's the morally superior one.