Muddy waters in the Middle East

Threats of terror and aggression are often more than a little convenient for some.
Take the latest Iranian incident in which five speedboats are reported to have “harassed three US navy ships at the weekend”.
The story comes as George Bush prepares to travel to the Middle East to condemn the “Iranian threat”.
Neat, isn’t it?
The BBC reports that official media in Iran reported the incident with some “scepticism”. Perhaps the BBC might try doing the same.
Instead, it tonight highlights a White House warning to Iran against “provocative actions that could lead to a dangerous incident in the future”.
According to a Pentagon spokesman: “The Iranian boats were operating at distances and speeds that showed reckless, dangerous and potentially hostile intent.”
He said at least some of the boats were visibly armed. Much like the US warships then, in waters thousands of miles from their home.
The BBC reports that the Pentagon insisted that the three US vessels were in international waters.
And the Beeb goes on: “The incident follows a row that erupted last March when Iranian Revolutionary Guards captured 15 British sailors and held them for nearly two weeks.
Iran said the crew had strayed into Iranian waters, a claim which Britain disputed.”
To that it might be worth adding the following: the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee took some time investigating that incident.
It reported: “We conclude that there is evidence to suggest that the map of the Shatt al-Arab
waterway provided by the Government was less clear than it ought to have been. The Government was fortunate that it was not in Iran’s interests to contest the accuracy of the map.”
Martin Pratt, of the International Boundaries Research Unit, Durham University, told the committee that he believed the map published by the Ministry of Defence following the sailors’ arrest was “certainly an oversimplification of reality, and I think it could reasonably be argued that it was deliberately misleading”.

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