Britain’s Tricky Relationship with Iran

This was the moment that British-Iranian relations re-emerged as a major global talking point. The storming of the British embassy in Iran provided the spark for the latest bout of trouble between Ahmadinejad’s oil-rich state and Great Britain.

Al Jazeera – Britain to expel all Iranian diplomats

William Hague in response closed both Iran’s embassy in London and Britain’s embassy in Tehran where he expelled 25 diplomats. Al Jazeera reported at the time that these events marked “a complete split in diplomatic relations, not cut off completely but [downgraded to] the lowest level”. Whereas the Ottawa Citizen described it as the “worst crisis in decades”.

Diplomatic relations however were already precariously balanced over a somewhat rocky precipice due to a report made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that indicated Iran may be preparing to build nuclear weapons. The Asia Times, who claim this report to merely contain “flimsy expressions of concern”, chastise Britain for leading the charge for imposing financial sanctions on Iran due to the report’s findings. The predictions that Britain’s actions in expelling Iranian diplomats could proliferate throughout the EU were condemned as a “misguided overreaction…unlikely to yield any positive results”. The article is equally critical of David Cameron’s administration as “ill-prepared for reflection on how its own actions may have precipitated the current crisis in relations, and is instead trying to seize the moment and isolate iran in the international community”.

Due to Britain’s actions, Afrasiabi, the reporter for the Asian Times asserts that suggestions Tehran and London could rebuild their relations is somewhat premature and unlikely due to “Britain’s campaign of unbounded hostility toward the Islamic Republic”.

The growing antipathy of the West towards the Iranians and vice versa worsened after the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key route for global oil supplies. Iran’s Press TV reported that Phillip Hammond (wrongly credited as British Foreign Secretary) had “violated international law by threatening to attack Iran if it closes its territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz”. Britain, and other Western powers however did send a naval presence into the Straits to prevent this potential crisis taking place. The Iranian perspective is that the British are re-exercising their colonial muscles by citing “non-existent portions of the international law in its threats of military action on Iran in case it does not allow foreign vessels pass through its territorial waters in the strategic Strait of Hormuz”. “The international law rules that all ships can enter Iranian territorial waters only upon authorization from Iran”, according to Press TV. They have also used this criticism of British colonialism to describe Britain’s intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and recent tension over the Falkland Islands.

Press TV have since been banned from British television which American political newsletter, Counterpunch question somewhat critically. It’s conclusion is that OFCOM’s decision is “another front” on the war already being waged against Iran. In fact endorsement of Press TV’s removal by some British journalists is considered an example of “the insouciant hackery of some British journalists when it comes to issues of free speech”. British journalists, of course, have taken quite a proverbial beating from the worlds media in recent weeks due to the hacking scandal.

The international response to Britain’s declining relations with Iran has provided somewhat of a mixed bag. What can be demonstrated from this, is that there is support for Iran against British actions and Iran are quite naturally documenting events as oppressive and colonial. Is this a fair assessment? We will only know as things progress, however the steady decline does not bode well for the future of British-Iranian relations which seem increasingly likely to escalate.


What to do with the August Rioters

I think the most pressing question concerning the recent riots that shocked Britain is what on earth did the Woolwich Wilkinsons or Wetherspoons do to the hoody clad thugs and looters? Burning the only places in which they can afford to shop and socialise on their dole cheque seems to be somewhat of a counterproductive measure; productivity however is clearly not a strongpoint of any partaker. Although it was suggested that the riots began because of the death of a drug dealer, many soon jumped on the destructive bandwagon over their lack of career options and rising levels of unemployment. I call it unemployability; smashing, destroying, burning and looting local businesses will not help them find a job and has done no favours to their already lacking CV.

So what to do with those found guilty? Now, I’m not suggesting Cameron should take the approach of Bashar al-Assad, although I did meet a man on a train from Manchester Airport who suggested shooting them all; a bit too ‘Arab Spring’ I reckon. Perhaps a Stalinist approach is on the cards; rioters disappearing from their beds at night only to be found years later working in the flailing manufacturing sector, all for looting a Krispy Kreme doughnut. In all honesty that would solve their employment woes. Some would argue that the best remedy for all involved would be to hand those convicted of rioting a dustpan and brush and telling them to sort out the mess they created. But they’d only do a half-arsed job; one thing I probably share with the rioters would be a less than enthusiastic approach to spring cleaning (perhaps it could yet be known as the British Spring).

Some rioters are receiving sentences that don’t appear to match their level of participation. But starting a Facebook page encouraging others to join them in smashing up their local town, even if it never happens, is quite simply a crime of stupidity. It’s like running through Heathrow airport recruiting people for your jihad.

The riots were an excuse for a bunch of hooligans to go nuts for a couple of days, maybe find themselves some new toys at a much discounted price. It brought the pyromaniacs and thieves of our society together in a big, uneducated and embarrassing mess. A tough stance seems to be being taken over the punishment of those involved, which will hopefully prevent any further trouble. The true consequences of these riots are yet to be seen however, so I shall keenly follow every update the news has to offer on my new flat screen TV. Just kidding.