Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The botched US raid that led to the hostage crisis

Now we are all familiar with the US raid that took place in Arbil and resulted in the arrest of five Iranians that the US went on to tell us were, "suspected of being closely tied to activities targeting Iraq and coalition forces." This excuse never made any sense as no member of the US coalition forces have ever been killed in Arbil.

Now in today's Independent, Patrick Cockburn gives us another reason that makes sense, not only of what the US were actually up to when they launched that raid, but why the Iranians might have been so incensed that they captured 15 British sailors.

The aim of the raid, launched without informing the Kurdish authorities, was to seize two men at the very heart of the Iranian security establishment.

Better understanding of the seriousness of the US action in Arbil - and the angry Iranian response to it - should have led Downing Street and the Ministry of Defence to realise that Iran was likely to retaliate against American or British forces such as highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf.

The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.

The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil.

"They were after Jafari," Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, told The Independent. He confirmed that the Iranian office had been established in Arbil for a long time and was often visited by Kurds obtaining documents to visit Iran. "The Americans thought he [Jafari] was there," said Mr Hussein.

This is beyond outrageous. As Cockburn rightly points out, the only equivalent action to put this into perspective is to imagine what the US would say if the Iranians swept into Pakistan or Afghanistan and arrested the head of the CIA and MI6 whilst they were on official business.

Now, we are well used to American governments claiming exceptionalism for their every action, as if it is morally heinous to ask how certain situations would look to us if reversed, but now Blair is starting to play this game as well. He has already assured us that there is no link between the capture of the five Iranians and the capture of the 15 US sailors, though this most recent news must give pause for thought.

Blair was surely aware of what the Americans were actually trying to accomplish during the Arbil mission and, if he was, he would surely realise that actions as outrageous as that tend to provoke a response.

But, of course, Blair embraces American exceptionalism almost as keenly as Bush does. Any action we take must be full of the most honourable intentions and are, by dint of the fact that we are doing them, inherently legal. Were any of our opponents to engage in a similar course of action then we would, of course, condemn it in the strongest fashion and bemoan it's illegality. We are able to do this because we are inherently good, and our opponents and critics from within the UK - like myself - are engaging in semantics when we attempt to point out the hypocrisy of this stance.

This is why Blair could react with such fury to the captured British soldiers being filmed and yet, it took him days to condemn Saddam being taunted just before he was hung. In the case of the 15 captured Brits, Blair can clearly see a breach of the Geneva Conventions, despite the fact that we are not at war with Iran, but when asked to condemn Guantanamo Bay he can find no stronger word for it than to label it, "an anomaly".

It now makes sense why Blair's been shouting from the rooftops and generally behaving like a hysteric. He knows exactly why those troops have been taken and was keen to get them back before we found out why and started blaming him and Bush instead of the Iranians.

If this story is true, and it would appear to be as - for the first time since this drama unfolded - it's started to make sense, then Iran are sending a warning shot across the bow. They are letting Bush and Blair know that two can play at this game. You kidnap my guys and I can easily start kidnapping yours.

Of course, to Bush and Blair this will seem outrageous and another example of the inherent evil at the heart of Ahmadinejad's regime; a man who Bush already, ridiculously, compares to Hitler.

So this dispute is not about who strayed into whose waters. That story never quite hung together. And it certainly wasn't going to be sorted as both sides kept repeating that they were right and producing nothing substantive in the way of proof.

This dispute isn't about the five Iranians captured either. It's about Bush attempting to seize Iranian officials as they went about their lawful business. And it's about Iran letting Bush and Blair know that, in any such game, the possibility of tit-for-tat always exists.

UPDATE:

Blair is now running around saying that the next two days will be a "fairly critical" phase in the talks to free the 15 Royal Navy personnel captured by Iran. Could that be because he knows something about this?
Citing Russian media and AP, the Jerusalem Post is now reporting that the US will strike Iran on Good Friday between the hours of 4.00 am and 4.00 pm in a coordinated series of air strikes and missile attacks aimed at selected strategic targets.
I mean it's not as if George would go ahead anyway whether the sailors are freed or not, is it? After all, we do enjoy a "Special Relationship" with the US...

Blair's panic is beginning to appear to be not without good reason.

Click title for Cockburn's article.

4 comments:

Jason said...

Man, what an Iranian apologist. How self-loathing can you get. I mean, these are your own people. So, you are implying that it was okay for the Iranians to kidnap 15 of your countrymen because of a supposed botched American raid possibly targetting Iran's top spy who was of course on a peaceful mission (Iran being the peace loving nation and all).

It was only a matter of time before your nation's flaccidity was blamed on us. Did you ever stop to think that the UK who was targetted because Iran thinks you're a bunch of pussies and that you wouldn't do anything about it? Which of course, you didn't.

Kel said...

I never said it was okay. I merely report why the Independent say that it happened.

Do you agree with American attempts to seize Iranian leaders as they go about their lawful business? After all, you are not at war with Iran - yet - are you?

And you are the kind of person that the article discusses. You are the ultimate American exceptionalist. Everything the US does is inherently good in your eyes, for the simple reason that it is the US that is doing it.

You confuse your patriotism with morality and imagine that they are both the same.

And the fifteen held can be thankful that they have been captured by Iran and not the US. The Iranians appear to be treating them well, not shackling them, waterboarding them, and sending them to Guantanamo Bay. It's a sad day when one thinks that, but since Bush came to power it's actually the truth. You're better off being arrested by the Iranians than the Americans. What does that say about what that dreadful man has done to your country's reputation?

Jason said...

Thanks for the personal analysis.

Do you agree with American attempts to seize Iranian leaders as they go about their lawful business?

How do you know they were on lawful business? Oh yeah, because the Iranians said they were and they told the Iraqis that they were. I'm sure that's why the ones we took were caught trying to flush documents down the toilet when they were taken.

Kel said...

How do you know they were on lawful business?

Do you even read these articles before you comment? Or is your Republicanism so inbred that your knee jerk response shoots out before your brain has fully digested what it has just read?

"The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil."

They were there at the behest of the Iraqi President. That's about as official and lawful as you can get in what's left of Iraq since you buggers barged in.