Crossfire War – TEHRAN – RIYADH – BAGHDAD WATCH – Persian Gulf Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Baghdad – Muscat – Doha/London – Washington – Canberra; British Foreign Office Summons Iran Ambassador After 15 British Sailors – Marines Seized By Iran in Persian Gulf – Oil Rises to $62 Per Barrel After Incident – Provocation – Iran Naval Maneuvers Continue
Night Watch: SHATT al-ARAB – Reuters reports the British Foreign Office summoned Tehran’s Ambassador after 15 British sailors and marines were seized Friday by two Iranian vessels in the Shatt al-Arab waterway in the northern end of the Persian Gulf between the Iran-Iraq border. A British government source stated, “This may well be a misunderstanding. We are certainly treating it as such at the moment. We’re looking for the mistake to be corrected.” The commander of British Naval forces in the Gulf, Commodore Nick Lambert, on the HMS Cornwall, also stated he hoped the seizure is just a misunderstanding. The British state they were operating in Iraqi territorial waters. [ASHARQALAWSAT]
British naval units have been routinely and actively engaged in searching merchant ships suspected of smuggling in the Gulf ever since Saddam Hussein’s removal four years ago and with the permission of the United Nations. Australian and U. S. units are also involved but Tehran does not see it as a security operation, but rather, as just another scheme for the West to maintain a prominent military presence in the region, a presence Iran and other Islamic governments are preparing to attack and defeat. Tehran, in the meantime, is continuing its current naval offensive exercises in the Gulf that are due to end on the 30th.
An angler in the area was interviewed and he mentioned that the encounter occurred in the Siban area of the al-Faw peninsula. He said there was no violence as the British units searched the merchant ship, but then at least two Iranian vessels appeared and detained the sailors and marines. This also happened in 2004 as some British military personnel were seized but eventually released. However, three years ago Iran had not completed its production of nuclear warheads and still had some testing to do concerning its Shahab ballistic missile.
Constant military maneuvers were begun by Tehran early last year all over Iran and in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman so instead of seizing just a few sailors, as in 2004, this time Tehran seizes 15, a deliberate provocation. Iran has been precisely monitoring, targeting Allied forces and bases in the area for intelligence purposes and in preparation to attack them. The price of oil per barrel increased to $62 a barrel as a result of this incident, which means Tehran and other OPEC governments already realize the seizure has been profitable. Mores increases are obviously going to follow as relations descend into fallout war. What is misunderstanding in London-Washington-Canberra is intended, deliberate, understanding policy in Tehran-Riyadh-Baghdad-Doha.
Though the seizure has been mentioned in Iran’s media, there has been no public response from Tehran’s government. It may be significant this has been timed the day before the United Nations Security Council is to meet tomorrow, Saturday, to debate further sanctions on Iran for Tehran’s refusal to halt its nuclear uranium enrichment program. Tehran has always warned of consequences for the United Nations and the West-Russia’s opposition to Iran’s nuclear enrichment. Incidents and encounters like this, leading of course to war, will distract the Security Council’s attention away from Iran’s nuclear weapons production, which will continue until it is attacked by more than charm offensives, anemic statements, speeches and press conferences.