Saturday, March 31, 2007

What's up with Iran?

I don't think that anyone actually knows what's happening. The Iranians probably don't know what's happening either. The situation is clearly a mess with neither side backing down much. Well, the whole middle east is in a mess already.

I've been meaning to blog about Iran for a while now. The rumour mill has been working in overdrive. As soon as I got home from Paris, I have been reading a lot of news about an imminent US attack on Iran scheduled for early April. This rumour was started by a Russian news website on 19 March and has even been picked up by the FT today. The rumours claim that the attacks will commence, April 6th at 4am. Nobody has ever doubted that a war was imminent but it's a little surreal when you have an exact date and time. Kind of hard to believe until it happens.

Then, there's this recent news of Iran kidnapping soldiers. Funny how it's 'kidnapping' when Iran holds a group of British soldiers against their will (as demonstrated recently) and 'capturing' when the US holds a group of Iranian soldiers against their will (as demonstrated a few months ago). But that's just semantics. The whole point is that people from one side are being forcibly held by another side. One side claims to have satellite evidence that proves that their soldiers were in Iraqi waters while the other side claims to have seized GPS devices from the soldiers that prove that they had strayed into Iranian waters. So, everyone else is confused and don't know who to believe. At the very least, the 'hostages' seem to be well fed and clothed as seen from the official videos released.

Then, there's an article in TIME today about a firefight between US and Iranian troops along the Iraq-Iran border last September. It turns out that an Iranian troop was killed. If that is true, it would seem that a US-Iran confrontation has already happened. The most interesting thing though, is the timing and release of such news. If the firefight had occured half a year ago, why is it that such information was only being released now.

Iran obviously feels squeezed. It's got, what it deems enemy, troops on two borders and carrier groups from the sea. It has nuclear neighbours, Pakistan and Israel. It's being increasingly isolated by the western powers, due to it's continuous defiant pursuit of nuclear technology. This is ironic since it's nuclear programme was launched with the help of the US. Sometimes, you have to wonder what a country in such a position should do.

With the whole west against it, Iran has always had to rely on either Russia or China to speak up for it. However, it has begun to find solidarity with it's Arab and other middle east neighbours. The Saudi king has openly denounced the illegitimate occupation of Iraq by the US. The Iraqi government insists that it will not allow it's territory to be used as a platform for attack.

All I can hope for is that sanity will prevail and we do not see any other stupid wars being fought. The middle east is sufficiently messed up as it is. Let's not mess it up further. At the very least, Iran is a peaceful, stable and democratic country. There really isn't any reason to go start a shooting war there. Let's all hope that cooler heads will prevail and not find excuses to escalate the situation there.

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