Jul 26, 2007
Fudged Map, PsyOp'ted Probe - Shatt al-Arab Smackdown
A BRITISH map of the northern Gulf where Iran seized 15 naval personnel in March was not as accurate as it should have been and Britain was fortunate Iran did not contest it, a review into the crisis said.
The parliamentary report also said Britain's Foreign Office should name the person who let two sailors sell their stories to the media, a decision widely criticized for handing a propaganda coup to Britain's enemies and embarrassing serving troops.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards seized 15 British personnel in the northern Gulf in March sparking a 13-day standoff that ended when Iran's President freed them, a day after Larijani spoke to a senior adviser to then Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Britain and Iran provided different coordinates for the location of the capture.
The report did not make a definitive conclusion on the accuracy of the map or whether the sailors were in Iraqi or Iranian waters.
It quoted Martin Pratt, director of research at the International Boundaries Research Unit at Durham University, as saying that if the British coordinates were correct, it was difficult to see how Iran's claim could be legitimate.
“Nevertheless, there are sufficient uncertainties over boundary definition in the area to make it inadvisable to state categorically that the vessel was in Iraqi waters,” he was quoted as saying.
He said the map was “certainly an oversimplification” and could be regarded as “deliberately misleading”.
The Foreign Office said it was pleased the report praised its overall approach.
It was considering some recommendations and leaving others for the Ministry of Defence to address.
The Ministry of Defence also said it would study the report. ;)
Compiled by members of parliament, the report said it was “wholly unsatisfactory” that a previous report into the affair had been unable to say who was responsible for authorising payment for the stories of the personnel after they were freed.
“We recommend ... the (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) set out who specifically took the decision to authorise the naval personnel to sell their stories to the media,” it said.
-Hacked Excerpts of a News.Com.AU Article