Iran’s Failed Boat Ride to Propaganda

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The 17th of May was a day of high drama for the Iranian authorities to score big on the international propaganda chart. One is not surprised the day and the drama ended in total embarrassment for the instigators of the move in Tehran.

After a lot of hoopla and pre-departure publicity, including protestations that it was not carrying any arms, a boat with 120 so-called activists [including 10 children!!] set out from Dayyer near Bushehr for Bahrain, some 300km across the Arabian Gulf claiming to be carrying 5,000 letters to express solidarity with the Shia protesters in the Kingdom and provide “moral support” to them.

Then halfway through the misadventurous journey the Iranian authorities asked the boat to turn back in view of the alleged “emergence of threats” from warships. There was no elaboration on the nature of the threats. As for the letters, these were dumped into the sea.

One wonders what the real intention of Iran was in performing this stunt, except to unsuccessfully try and create a sectarian rift in Bahrain and gain cheap publicity. Considered logically, the entire exercise was meaningless and doomed to failure from the start.

Otherwise, why were children being carried in the guise of being activists unless the idea was that they could be projected as “innocent victims” in case of any clash? If the idea was merely to deliver 5,000 letters why couldn’t these be posted since it is inconceivable the contact details of most Shia leaders, who were breathing fire against the Kingdom’s leadership until the other day, would not be with the Iranian authorities.

Was it because posting them would not have earned Iran any publicity? How would the letters have helped the recipients more than the promises of solidarity delivered daily in the same language by the Press TV and Tehran Times? And since when have letters become a form of “humanitarian help” as claimed by the boat sympathisers? As another proof of their confounded logic, the boaters claimed that since the letters were meant for Bahrainis and not for the Bahrain government, the latter had no authority to stop them!

And all this concern for the Bahraini Shias was being displayed at a time when Iran has on more than one occasion brutally suppressed its own Shia population when it rose in unison after their President Ahmedinejad stole the election for a second time. Their leaders have since been spirited away to unknown destinations.

In a way it was good the Iranian script included the recalling of the boat halfway through the voyage since Bahrainis were well-prepared to offer it a befitting “welcome”. As Bahrain’s National Unity Gathering media vice-president and former MP Naser Al Fadhala said, Bahrainis wouldn’t accept this kind of activity from Iran whose goods are being boycotted by them.

Moreover, as he told a local daily, Bahrainis were neither under occupation nor under siege. But the best response came from two MPs who said they could also play the “aid flotilla trick” by sending shipments to help Iranian Arabs in Ahwaz in the name of humanitarian support. The question is, since the aid would be meant for the people there, would Iran stop it or not?