Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Iranian hostage responses

The European Union and the United Nations have both failed to support Britain fully, following Iran's recent act of war. The wording of a UN resolution was watered down, and the EU refused to agree to impose full economic sanctions against Iran. In contrast, the Anglosphere has thrown its weight fully behind our cause, while at the same time wondering why Britain seems to have become so weak that Marines now get taken captive without a shot being fired.

The Canadian Coalition for Democracies has just put forward a suggested plan of action for Canada:

The Stephen Harper government has adopted leadership positions before in foreign affairs, and it is in our interests to do so again. The weak response of Europe, even in the face of 15 Europeans being abducted, coerced and paraded before the media in contravention of the Geneva Convention, can be offset by a strong response from Canada, Great Britain, Australia and the United States. As a leader in dealing with the most significant threat to our future, Canada can undertake some practical steps:

- End Canada's $300 million in imports from Iran;
- Prohibit Canadian investment in Iran, especially in its oil and gas sector;
- Ban Iranian banks and investors from Canada's financial markets;
- Encourage Canadian investors and public sector fund managers to divest from companies doing business with Iran;
- Freeze all Canadian assets of Iranian officials including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, and their families;
- Impose a travel ban on all Iranian officials and their families;
- Provide material and financial support for those seeking to free Iranian political prisoners by assisting in publicizing their names and the abuses of the regime;
- Continue to provide sanctuary to those Iranians fleeing the regime's abuses.
- Identify and deport any remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada who spy on local Iranians in order to threaten their families in Iran, a charge frequently made by Iranian students and dissidents in Canada.

Prime Minister Harper will be meeting on Monday April 9th at Vimy Ridge with world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of that battle. It is an opportunity for Canada to let the people of Britain know that we stand behind them in deed as well as word, as we would hope they would do for us if those sailors had been Canadian.

Unless Iran is finally made to understand that it will pay a price for its crimes, the escalation will continue and we will have many more Vimy Ridges to commemorate.
Meanwhile, last weekend saw two separate demonstrations outside the Iranian Embassy in London. On Saturday, the 910 Group, which also operates something called the Centre for Vigilant Freedom, held a small rally of perhaps half a dozen people, and then on Sunday there was a very slightly larger turnout for the new Free the Navy 15 campaign. FTN15 is turning out again today, Wednesday, and seems likely to get some momentum. The 910 Group claims to be non-partisan and to have support from all walks of life, but organisations that link to sites like "Foehammer" and "Frontline America" are going to be unattractive to many. Here's Frontline America's programme:
We must effect four steps to secure our civilization.
1. We must wake up as a people to face the peril of our situation.
2. We must topple all regimes that refuse to hunt the jihadists.
3. We must kill, capture, or silence the jihadists everywhere.
4. We must eradicate Islam that demands the blood of our people.
I've met some people involved with 910 and they include disgruntled conservatives and disgruntled Guardian readers, but the fringes of their group condemn it forever to the sidelines. I'm deliberately not linking to some of these sites, but there is one with a tagline of "White, American and Proud". If they are happy to be in that sort of company, they deserve the sidelines.

FTN15 is much more promising. It seems to be organised by Mark Wallace, who is the Freedom Association's campaign manager. The Freedom Association has shaken off links with the far right, a quarter of a century ago, to become one of the leading libertarian campaign groups in the country. I've also met Mark Wallace and, though I haven't had any contact with him about this, I know he is a very shrewd operator who will conduct a savvy campaign and will ensure it remains single-issue and non-partisan.

But why stand outside the Iranian Embassy? We haven't been let down by Iran - it's a criminal regime running a failed state that has always taken hostages. It's something to expect from them.

No, we've been let down by France, by Germany, by Russia. The Iranians in Kensington will be watching the demonstrations with glee. I'm not sure the French would be so sanguine about demonstrations that drew attention to their feckless self-regard. The EU is Iran's biggest trading partner, and economic sanctions could really bite; France and Germany vetoed them.

Incidentally, this raises a broader question. Economic sanctions and boycotts helped bring about change in South Africa. Was apartheid really worse than the treatment of women and minorities in Iran and Saudi Arabia? If sanctions were justified - permanent, long lived sanctions aimed at regime change - in the case of South Africa, why are they not in the case of the extremist Muslim world?

Last year there was a Muslim boycott of Danish exports, and a counter-boycott in the West. The boycott was official in many places and well organised. Chains of stores simply withdrew Danish produce (including, shamefully, the French giant Carrefour). The counter-boycott was unofficial and much less well organised. The result: Danish exports rose.

Instead of indulging in displays of impotent anger outside the Iranian Embassy, we should be organising things that will bite the regime in Teheran, and doing so by playing to our strengths.

Our strengths are economic.

Free the Navy 15 are rallying again this evening at 6:45pm. Details on their blog.


Anonymous said...

Regarding responses to this crisis, I think that some of the opinons that are being posted in our papers is somewhat suspicous. I for one would like to see some comparative data on whether "J.R Hartel of London" was posted from an IP address from within the UK.

If there aren't large numbers of postings coming out of Arabia, or people posting under false Western names, then the level of ignorance and stupidity erupting from within this country in even more depressingly sinster than I could have imagined.


Richard Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Risdon said...

It's a shame you deleted the second comment - it was very pertinent and quite funny.

Elliott said...

Even if we could secure EU sanctions against Iran, it wouldn't do any good. The Iraqi sanctions of the 1990s demonstrate to any interested party (e.g. Iranian theocrats) that the ensuing popular suffering can be used as a propaganda tool against the west. And if it doesn't much care about popular suffering, and has the means to control any potential uprising (again, see Iraq circa 1991), the effect on the ruling elite will be negligible. (See here)

Force, unfortunately, is the only real arbiter in this part of the world. For Britain at the moment, that means get tough, or get out. (For better or worse, we are inclining markedly towards the latter option.)

Peter Risdon said...

Points taken, though I think there are important differences between Iraq and Iran. The latter seems to have an escalating level of political unrest, centered around various ethnic groups, students, women and the middle classes, that might in the fullness of time effect a counter revolution.

What is essential for sanctions to work, though, is the advocacy of these by the oppressed, as was the case in S Africa. As things stand, while there is some support for economic boycotts from some Iranian dissidents, I think it is not yet possible to say the support is widespread.

TheFriendlyInfidel said...

Hi Peter,

I removed the comment due to sudden polution of online personalities and thought I ought publish something on my blog. Here it is again, not sure if its funny for more editting:

Looking at the papers today, the whole thing is being to look like an awful parody of Big Brother.

I'm just waiting for one to pop into the diary room to issue another letter to the British Government.

If they had wanted this to work and to truly influence the British public, they should have tried to copy the old classic, Jim'll Fix It.

"Now then, Now then, what can Jim fix for you?"

"I want to go home and see my children"

"Now Faye, isn't there something that you would like more than that? Something that the show organizers have suggested that is better? Lets have a look at the letter you sent in!"

"Dear Jim, will you fix it for me so that the fascist English pig dog oppressors can be humiliated in front of the world and Arab states?"

Lets hope that this is resolved before the Iranians continue with their charm offensive and launch a phone in number for evictions. I can see them now leaving the BB house, walking the red carpet, quick interview about the other hostages and then wrapping up with a nice jolly public hanging using a crane.


Peter Risdon said...

By the way, TFI - nice to see you online again.

TheFriendlyInfidel said...

Cheers Peter! I might have been quiet in the last year (decided to get out more), but its a slow day at work today.