new boss bigger on starting civil wars than old boss...,
| Main |
blanks on checks...,
lines on maps:
For days now you've been regaled every morning about the 15 strong British crew of the HMS Cornwall aboard a merchant ship who were ruthlessly captured for no apparent reason at all by Iran in Iraqi maritime waters. You may have even seen nice glossy maps demonstrating various supposed locations of the HMS Cornwall and said merchant ship with bright lines marking a definitive, indisputable maritime border between Iraq and Iran, and how only a later "revised" location submitted by Iran is actually in Iranian waters.
Do Iran and Iraq even have maritime borders? The last time they agreed to anything was the Algiers Accord, back in 1975, and then there was that little tanker war thing, ending in stalemate. No maritime borders there, or anywhere previous, though they did settle a similar issue at Algiers:
Second: Demarcate their river boundaries according to the thalweg line.
In fact I'm feeling a little deja vu, like all of this has happened before.
Anyway, once you get out into the gulf there's no more thalweg, and there's no mention of any agreement anywhere that there's any actual maritime border between Iran and Iraq. Is the UK government just making shit up? Let's check in with the folks at Stars and Stripes, back in the dark ages of October 2006:
The coalition will help anyone, [Navy Rear Adm. John W. Miller, deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and 5th Fleet] said, including the Iranians.
"But to the credit of the Iranians, they will help other people when theyíre in distress. Thatís more a part of being a mariner than anything else."
"Bumping into" the Iranians canít be helped in the northern Persian Gulf, where the lines between Iraqi and Iranian territorial water are blurred, officials said.
No maritime border has been agreed upon by the two countries, [Royal Australian Navy Commodore Peter Lockwood, Combined Task Force 158 commander] said.
The United Kingdom has once again done what it does best, draw lines on other peoples' maps in its own interest, and so:
With that, Sir Percy took hold of the map. Carefully drawing a red line across the face of it, he assigned a chunk of the Nejd to Iraq; then to placate Ibn Saud, he took almost two thirds of the territory of Kuwait and gave it to Arabia. Last, drawing two zones, and declaring that they should be neutral, he called one the Kuwait neutral zone and the other the Iraq neutral zone. When a representative of Ibn Saud pressed Cox not to make a Kuwait neutral zone, Sir Percy asked him why. "Quite candidly," the man answered, "because we think oil exists there."
For extra points, as craig murray suggests, compare the distances on the map between the UK positions and the shores of Iraq and Iran. Guess which is closer? Hell, don't even guess, check it right now with your little finger. Amaze your friends! You too can debunk flimsy British propaganda!
This point is relevant because, lacking any agreement to the contrary, territorial water disputes are settled by the following (Law of the Seas Convention Section II Article 15):
Article 15 - Delimitation of the territorial sea between States with opposite or adjacent coasts:
Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other, neither of the two States is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial sea beyond the median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each of the two States is measured.
12 miles out from whichever country is closest, in other words. The Cornwall and the merchant ship were both in Iranian waters.
update: As far as what Iran wants out of this kerfluffle there's a few possibilities: