What is the Iran crisis and what does the UK need to do? This is the question our editors face for our second article here at Point of Information.
Iran has come a long way since the 1979 revolution that removed the US backed monarchy replacing it with an Islamic republic under Supreme Leader Ruhollah Kjomeini. In 1989 he passed away and Ali Khanemei became supreme leader. In June this year, he surpassed 30 years as leader.
However, in recent months, his rule has been tense. Last weekend the BBC reported that ‘Iran had seized another foreign tanker’. This is now the third tanker to be seized.
This has been an escalating turn of events, starting with US-Iranian diplomacy. In May 2018, according to the BBC, ‘Trump abandoned the landmark deal and… reinstated sanctions’ despite the drastic measures taken by nations worldwide who were trying to keep the deal afloat. This deal had restricted Iran’s supply of uranium and permitted constant checks of all areas by UN Nuclear inspectors. The US sanctions have since caused Iran’s economy to suffer and therefore, the Iranians have recently turned away from the international negotiating table.
Leaked emails by UK ambassador Sir Kim Darroch said Trump’s political move was based on ‘personality reasons’ and ‘to spite Obama’ the BBC reported.
Iran was then blamed for using mines to attack oil tankers in the Gulf, although evidence is sketchy, as the New York Times asked ‘Did Iran attack ships in the Gulf?’.
Since then, tensions have been building. Britain seized an Iranian tanker for breaking EU sanctions and ‘will join a US-led task force’ to bring ‘reassurance for shipping’, Dominic Raab told to the BBC.
Iran has since increased its importation of weapons grade uranium. The real shame here is the effect this has had on Iranian youth. Brought up in a post-revolutionary world, Iranian youth had blossomed. Euronews figures show that ‘Nearly all Iranians can read compared to 47% of the population in 1976’. The Iranian youth has turned in recent months, going from a pro-West generation to one that thinks ‘Iran’s problems are being produced by the US’ and with a belief that ‘America likes to dominate the Middle East’.
Written Chief Liberal editor By Max Anderson
Being anti-trump and pro-america are very different, and Britain should learn the difference – Liberal article
Tensions between America and Iran have increased drastically over the last year and have now reached boiling point. The reason for this is simple; Donald Trump. Since the change of administration in America, they have gone from a country promoting peace to one looking for war.
As a Liberal, I never shy away from countries trying to help and be involved in other countries’ politics for positive reasons, such as Obama in Iran. However, what Trump is doing is the complete opposite.
In 2015, Obama negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, bringing members of the UN security council and EU countries together to stabilise the region. Iran came to the table, and gave up their effort developing nuclear weapons and gave UN Nuclear Inspectors unlimited access to all Iranian nuclear sites in exchange for their sanctions to be lifted.
It was hailed as a landmark deal by countries around the world, and was one of the highlights of Obama’s presidency.
America under the Trump administration has told a very different story, negating the historic Nuclear deal. It has since blamed Iran for attacking oil tankers, in which The New York Times questioned the evidence. Trump bragged to the BBC, about putting ‘the toughest ever’ sanctions on Iran.
Trump and his National Security Advisor John Bolton, a close ally with Dick Cheney during the Iraq invasion, have both targeted Iran since taking office. However, to understand why they are doing this, you must look to another country.
The answer lies on the other side of the Gulf in Yemen. There has been a civil war between the Hadi Government and rebel Houthi forces since 2014 when Houthi Shia Muslims ‘seized control of a northern Saudi province’ as reported by the BBC. The report also adds that the fighting intensified ‘when Saudi Arabia and eight other mostly Sunni Arab states – backed by the US, UK and France – began air strikes against the Houthis’
It is no secret that Trump has supported Saudi Arabia in aiding the Hadi government. NBC reported that Mr.Trump has ‘vetoed three congressional bills [which]…aimed at stopping more than $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia’. The article goes on and I encourage you to read it. Trump has personally benefited from the Saudi rulers, as Business insider said ‘Trump bragged about his business dealings with the Saudis during a 2015 campaign rally’. On one occasion ‘the Saudi Government also purchased the entire 45th floor of Trump World Tower, for $4.5 million’.
President Trump is trying to cripple Iran to stop them supplying Houthi troops and allow the Saudi Arabian backed government to return the country to ‘corruption, unemployment and food insecurity’ although ‘many Yemenis – including Sunnis – supported the Houthis’ the BBC noted.
MEI states ‘evidence of Iranian intervention to support the Houthis’ has gone on since 2012. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has even put forward a ‘four-point plan…. [in which] we urge ceasefire, humanitarian assistance, intra-Yemeni dialogue and establishment of broad-based government’.
In recent weeks Britain, has been dragged into the conflict. Trump is trying to destroy Iran to help his Saudi Arabian buddies. We need to help guide America until Trump’s term is up and not destroy their International relations. Britain must stand up to Trump with the EU, and not allow an already destabilised region be thrown into chaos just like Bush did to Iraq over 15 years ago.
Written Chief Liberal editor, by Max Anderson
Point of Information
An interesting insight into shady foreign affairs, but no tangible answers – a Labour response.
I applaud my Liberal counterpart for his obvious knowledge and extensive research of the complex political interplay between the USA and the Middle East, an area of high intrigue and utmost importance.
However, Mr Anderson seems to have lost himself in an enticing labyrinth of online articles and become somewhat distracted from his task of delivering a pragmatic response to the crisis. Yes, Trump is almost certainly considering his arms dealings with the Saudis at every turn of the Iran debacle, but that is not the only factor. Consider his sycophantic praise of the equally odious Netanyahu, who is quite thrilled by the President’s provocation of Iran, or Trump’s simple need of a political punching bag which he can pummel every now and again to reinforce his ‘Foreign Policy Strong-Man’ image à la Putin.
Mr Anderson’s vague advice of Britain simply ‘guid[ing] America’ is not going to cut it. In order for a catastrophe to be averted, we must unite as political commentators to call on the UK government to positively intervene by directly communicating with the President, not loiter indecisively. When it comes to war, and the prevention of such, ideology and principles must take precedence.
Written POI correspondent by Max Ingleby
Time to leave Utopia Max, reality has dawned – a Conservative response
I completely agree with Mr Anderson’s opening remarks about the landmark nature of the Iran Nuclear deal and I feel it is my job to state that at this time, the British government will continue to support the deal. However, Mr Anderson tends to get carried away in his liberal utopia and it is time for him to be returned to reality.
Mr Anderson argues that the British government has been dragged into this conflict by Trump’s America. I would disagree with that on the evidence that it was Iran who attacked the two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. It is clear that the Iranians want to regain control of the region and bring the UK into a conflicting situation. British and US intelligence supports the evidence that the Iranians did attack those tankers and I feel we must go on the evidence from the two most respected intelligence services in the western world, rather than the less supported evidence of the New York Times.
Max argues that we should stand up to Trump alongside the EU. First of all, Trump is helping the Royal Navy escort ships through the Straits of Hormuz and has granted two warships and aerial surveillance to help uphold free trade in the region. America is our closet ally and we must help them as they have helped us. Furthermore, the European powers have taken very little interest in the situation and have done little to help. Therefore, with the formation of the UK-US Maritime Agreement hopefully we will see the European powers jump of the fence and join the agreement to stand up for free trade and democracy.
Written by Chief Conservative editor Jack Kane.
Don’t take sides – we need a mediator not an AGGRESSOR – – Labour article
When former President Barack Obama humiliated Donald Trump with a steady supply of zingers at the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, it was seen as satisfying retribution for the ridiculous ‘Birther’ of conspiracy theories Trump had zealously promoted. Little did Obama know, he had bruised an ego capable of swindling its way to the most powerful office of modern times, and started a feud with someone petty enough to smash the Crown Jewel of his presidency – the 2015 Iran deal, also known as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Kim Darroch, before his outrageously forced resignation, said what we were all thinking when Trump announced his departure from the Iran deal, calling it an act of “diplomatic vandalism” to personally spite his predecessor. This is firmly Trump’s mess, but by sabotaging the deal, he is attempting to lure Britain and other European states into this hellish diplomatic maelstrom. Boris Johnson has already taken steps to appease Trump, first by washing his hands of the Darroch affair, and then agreeing to join Trump’s task-force in the Gulf instead of a proposed European alliance. The seizure of the Iranian tanker was a tactless move, undoubtedly ordered after kowtowing to intense US pressure.
Britain cannot continue down this path of appeasement. Taking sides in this standoff will not resolve the conflict, and an economically crippled Iran will only grow more hostile as their chief export is refused at every port. Johnson must take Emmanuel Macron’s example and play the role of mediator. France’s summit with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran was a refreshing example of communication in a climate of aggressive bluster from both sides, and they discussed some important strategies, such as extending the INSTEX system, a transaction trading channel which bypasses US sanctions. A ‘freeze-for-freeze’, where the US would halt sanctions at their current rate whilst Iran would stop Nuclear activity, was also discussed as a way to stimulate dialogue between the two combatants.
It is undeniable that Boris Johnson has a difficult task ahead of him; navigating the volatile waters of diplomacy is perhaps more challenging than passing through the Strait of Hormuz, but I would strongly warn him against becoming too closely aligned with his fellow floppy-haired friend. Some may accuse me of ignorance of the ‘Special Relationship’, but we have seen how cosying up to a President can wreak havoc on a Prime Minister’s career – I doubt Boris would be thrilled to see a million protestors parade through the capital again, as they did under Blair.
We need a Prime Minister willing to stand up to Trump and his impulsive foreign policy, and crucially someone who is a calm, considered mediator. More warships and missiles will be dispatched before Trump and Rouhani can reach a compromise, and Britain needs a skilled and nuanced leader to open channels of communication between the two instead of deepening the rift. Boris Johnson is not that leader.
Written POI correspondent by Max Ingleby
Point of information
Labour misses the point, so here’s the information he missed – a Liberal response
I love to see a journalist stand up to the President and point out his indiscretions just as my article does. However, as usual with a Labour supporter, ideology gets in the way of sense.
I disagree with Mr Ingleby’s criticisms of deploying more warships to the Gulf. Iran is not completely guilty in recent months and protecting global trade is important. I think more ships in the region will be critical for humanitarian and peace keeping action. They can be deployed instantly to help the situation in Yemen if called upon.
Mr Ingleby’s dislike for Mr Trump’s administration has gotten ahead of him. We do need to condemn his actions, however treating him like an idiot could ultimately let him off the hook. He deserves to be held to account, and playing dumb and stubborn, can let him leave from this conflict viewed as an ‘innocent’ bystander just like the Mueller Report with voters.
It must be remembered America is the reason for the Liberal World Order. We rely on them to sustain democratic values at the heart of global institutions such as the UN. We must prove ourselves better than populist rhetoric that has captured the US. It is the EU’s turn to come to together and help our big brother out of their teenage rebellion phase and lead them back to the right path.
Written Chief Liberal editor, by Max Anderson
To be tactless or not to be tactless, Labour clearly is – a Conservative response
I can only agree with Mr Ingleby that leaving the Iran Nuclear Deal was a reckless move by President Trump and, unlike him, Britain does support the Iran Nuclear deal. However Mr Anderson is lost in the past and it is time for him to smell the coffee. He forgets that the new partnership with the USA is a joint partnership and is one of equals. To say that Britain has been forced into this arrangement is simply upsetting.
Furthermore, Mr Ingleby has forgotten how to use the word tactless. He is arguing that the government is showing a lack of skill and sensitivity in dealing with others. Is It tactless that we intercepted a tanker carrying illegal oil to a country in the midst of a deadly civil war? Oil used to help continue this war and cause further devastation? Does the government show a lack of sensitivity when acting accordingly to EU sanctions when stopping this illegal shipment of oil? To say the government is tactless is shameful at best and I highly urge Mr Ingleby to be careful about the words he uses.
Finally, Mr Ingleby talks of the limited work done by Emmanuel Macron yet he gives no explanation to what his own party leader would do. He has refused to accept British intelligence and his only idea is that “Britain should act to ease tensions in the Gulf, not fuel a military escalation.” I can agree with previous Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt that this response is “Pathetic and predictable.” He claims that Boris is not fit for the job, laughable from the man who supports the party of Jeremy Corbyn.
Written Chief Conservative editor, by Jack Kane
Sensible leadership is prevailing. Boris Johnson’s balancing act is one to feast on – Conservative article
Tensions between the West and Iran are at a critical point. Iran has fought back against what they see as imperialistic actions by the US and UK. With my party in control of the UK’s government I must state the government’s position on the Iranian situation. I believe that so far, the government has acted thoughtfully and responsibly to a very serious situation. When you have extreme rhetoric coming out of Iran such as President Rouhani saying “A strait for a strait. It can’t be that the Strait of Hormuz is free for you and the Strait of Gibraltar is not free for us.” We must not allow them to think there is a quid pro quo. Iran has taken our ship illegally while we have detained there’s legally therefore, we must act accordingly.
Since the British flagged tanker the Stena Impero has been illegally captured by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, what has the government done? The government has made a clear change in stance to the previous government by announcing the formation of “a maritime coalition in the Gulf with the United States.” This is to allow us to continue “upholding international maritime law and freedom of passage.” In addition, the Royal Navy has sent another warship to the region while the USA has committed two further warships and “aerial surveillance.” This so far has led to 47 ships being safely escorted through the Strait of Hormuz. I admire the government for its sensibility by creating a new maritime coalition especially with our closest ally. As well as standing firm on the seizure of the tanker carrying Iranian oil to Syria.
Now my counterparts will argue two things. Firstly, with such close ties to America and the increasingly aggressive words from Donald Trump, will we be dragged into fighting another war in the Middle East? Secondly, will Britain move away from the Iran Nuclear deal in the same manner as Trump has done? To these questions I answer no and no. Why do I say this? Firstly Boris Johnson has stood up to Donald Trump by already refusing to go to war with America in the Middle East. In his leadership campaign he said “If you say that going to war with Iran now represents a sensible option for us in the West, I just don’t believe it is.” So to all those claiming that the UK is becoming the US’s satellite state, I feel you might have spoken too soon.
Onto the second question of the Iran Nuclear deal, the new Prime Minister is a keen advocate for it. Having been a supporter of it during his time as Foreign secretary, I see no concern for why he will not continue supporting during his time as PM. He is in conjuncture with his European counter-parts on the nuclear deal, as well as supporting of our closest ally on necessary action in the Straits of Hormuz. Long may this continue.
Written by Chief Conservative editor Jack Kane
Point of Information
Dr. Strangekane or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb (Boris Johnson!) – a Liberal response
I am very glad Mr Kane has found the one. His love for Boris Johnson knows no bounds, I just hope I am invited to the wedding. Mr Kane needs to wake up from his honeymoon and realise Mr Johnson and Donald Trump are leading us to Iraq 2.0.
Quoting Boris Johnson saying he promises not to go to war means little to me – as it does to most. I still have flashbacks of Mr Johnson waving a smoked Kipper claiming the EU requires ‘ice pillows when they are delivered’ despite the fact the EU ‘covers fresh fish, not smoked fish’ and is ‘food and safety regulations in the UK’ as the BBC quotes. His promises are empty at this point.
I do agree with Mr Kane that new warships being deployed in the area is a good thing. However, the intentions of Mr Kane and his fellow Conservatives worry me. It appears more an act of aggression, joining with America ready to bring a gun to a knife fight. We should be proposing peaceful safety for Iran, Yemen, global trade and not preparing to strong arm these countries into grudgingly agreeing to our demands. All our actions have increased the pressure. Crippling Iran would destabilise the area. Just look at previous countries that have been paralysed by foreign aggression; Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine to name a few. Destroying these countries leaves long lasting scars. I beg the Conservatives and Mr Kane not to make the same blunder again!
Our diplomacy with Iran should be the same as trying to get a man to take off his coat. The best way to make a man take off his coat is not to blow it off, but to make him feel warm.
Written by Chief Liberal editor, Max Anderson
The Conservative’s wilful ignorance of an escalating fiasco shows how fearful they are to criticise Trump – a Labour response
I must admit that Mr Kane’s alarmist branding of Rouhani’s statement as ‘extreme rhetoric’ made me chuckle – never has such a justified and rational sentence been considered to be quite the inverse!
But all jokes aside, Mr Kane’s calm recitation of the alarming steps both by the UK and USA have taken to ‘solve’ this crisis show how unwilling the Conservatives are to face the escalation occurring right under their noses. To pin all assurances of stability on the notorious charlatan Boris Johnson is a further self-deception, as the human imagination cannot physically comprehend the potential steps the Prime Minister will take to further his own standing.
Yet another reason the Conservatives should not be in government; their fiercely Euro-sceptic cabinet has decreed that a sensible alliance with European states in the Gulf is out of the question, and has instead decided to hop onto Trump’s out-of-control bandwagon. The increasing number of British warships patrolling the Strait is at best a cowardly short-term response to a long-term problem, and at worst dangerously provocative sabre-rattling.
Written POI correspondent by Max Ingleby