Posts Tagged ‘Qajar Shahs’

Boris Blusters as Thornberry Tells Him to Resign

May 24, 2018

I’ve already put one piece up, commenting on how Boris ran from the chamber when Emily Thornberry rose to ask for the government’s comment about the Gaza massacre. Just as he also ran away from her in February, when she terrified him with a question about Northern Ireland. And in this short video from RT, she lays into Johnson again, over the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Mike reported last week that the Iranians had added yet another trumped up charge to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s list of spurious crimes, and increased her sentence. This time she has been charged with spreading propaganda. It’s sheer nonsense, of course, but it shows the arbitrary, despotic nature of the regime.

However, this woman’s plight has been compounded by the sheer, hamfisted incompetence of the current Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson. The Iranian government claimed that she was really spying, and had been teaching journalism during her stay in the country. She hadn’t. She’d actually been taking her daughter, Gabrielle, to meet her Iranian family. Boris, however, decided to leap in with both feet, and claimed in a TV interview that she had indeed been teaching journalism, thus apparently confirming the Iranians’ charges.

There was naturally an outcry against Boris for so ignorantly making the situation worse. So Michael Gove decided to exercise his minuscule intellect, and appeared on television to defend BoJo. And he made matters worse, by stating in an interview that ‘we don’t know what she’s doing’. In fact, the government knew perfectly well what she was doing, and BoJo and Gove only had to look at the briefing papers. Neither of them appear to have bothered. This wouldn’t have surprised Ken Livingstone, who said that Boris often didn’t read them.

Mike in his article about the issue raised the obvious question of why Boris Johnson is still Foreign Secretary, considering all he’s done is make matters worse. He concluded that he is only there, because someone wants him there, not because he has any talent.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2018/05/21/innocent-brit-faces-more-years-in-iranian-jail-tory-who-failed-to-rescue-her-is-still-foreign-secretary/

In the video, Thornberry turns her attention to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, and asks how many times more times must Boris this happen? How many more times must he insult our international partners and damage our international relations, and imperil British nationals abroad, before Tweezer sacks him? And if she doesn’t, because she doesn’t have the strength or authority perhaps Boris himself should show a bit of personal authority that this job, where words have gravity and actions have consequences, is not for him.

BoJo then bounces up and starts blustering, stating that it is unfair to attack the Foreign Office, that have been working day and night so secure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release. To which Thornberry simply mouthes ‘Just you’, pointing to the fatuous buffoon. He then goes on to claim that her comments are a distraction from the people, who are really responsible for Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s situation.

This then provokes heated remarks from both sides, with the Deputy Speaker crying for order.

Boris is right that the people really responsible for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment are the Iranians. But they’ve been assisted in this by Boris’ massive incompetence. It’s also very clear to me that they’re holding her as a political bargaining chip. When they first imprisoned her, Boris ended flying out to Tehran, and Britain mysteriously unlocked about £250 million of Iranian funds, that had previously been frozen in banks over here. Both sides claimed that this was unrelated to Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment, but it looks far too much that it was very much connected for the excuse that it was all coincidence to be at all convincing. The problem is that the Iranians have learned that all they have to do is retain Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and add a few more years to her sentence, and the government will automatically try anything to secure her release. Try and fail, because she’s too big an asset for them to throw away now.

And I think that the fresh charges they’ve drummed up against Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe are not unrelated to the current crisis in American-Iranian relations. America has imposed sanctions on Iran, and has blocked them from using the dollar as their currency of international trade. Even third party companies, who are not American, are prevented from trading with Iran in dollars, if they wish to do business in America. This is intended to make it difficult for the Iranians to trade oil, as the Americans have made the dollar the international trade currency for it. This has the benefit, for the Americans, of boosting their economy. If the world stopped using the petrodollar, and switched to another currency, the American economy would be devastated. Hence one possible motive for the Americans’ overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi was because the Libyan dictator was planning to ditch the dollar, and set up the dinar as an alternative trade currency. Venezuela was also planning to ditch the dollar. And the Russians and Chinese have also made similar plans.
And the Iranians have gone through with theirs, and replaced the dollar with the euro. This has resulted in Trump and his colleagues going berserk, and threatening all kinds of reprisals against Iran and Europe.

Also, while many Iranians are probably quietly in favour of better relations with the West, official Iranian ideology demonises both America and Britain. America is ‘the great Satan’, while Britain is ‘the little Satan’. And there is much popular suspicion and hatred of Britain as the country’s former colonial master. The country was never formally incorporated into the British Empire, but we owned their oil industry and interfered many times in their politics from the 19th century onwards. The Qajar shahs were overthrown and replaced with the Pahlavis because they took out loans with us for modernisation, which they could not repay. And we overthrew their last, democratically elected president, Mossadeq, because he nationalised the Iranian oil industry. The Iranians therefore have a saying, ‘If there’s a pebble in your path, it was put there by a Brit.’

The Iranian dissident, Shirin Ebadi, has said that so great is this popular hatred of Britain, America and the West, that it is actually harmful for them to support Iranian dissident movements. When that is done, the Iranian authorities try to undermine them by claiming that these are subversive movements working against Iran with the country’s colonial enemies.

It therefore seems clear to me that the Iranians are keeping Zaghari-Ratcliffe as a possible bargaining chip in case of further confrontations with America over their switch from the petrodollar to euro. As well as Trump withdrawing from the nuclear treaty Obama signed with the Iranians. And the Iranian authorities are probably also keen to exploit the propaganda value of continuing Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment, while Britain impotently pleads for her release.

Boris is right that the real villains in this are the Iranians. But they’ve been assisted by his and Gove’s massive incompetence. Thornberry is right. It’s long past time Johnson was sacked. Not just because of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but because of all the other stupid mistakes he’s made, which have threatened our international relations, business interests and the welfare of our citizens abroad.

But Mike’s right. May won’t sack him, because he’s too dangerous to her outside the cabinet. So he will continue in his post as foreign secretary for as long as she’s in power.

Which means that, if we want to do something to improve diplomatic relations and free Mrs. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, they’ll both have to go.

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Vox Political on Salmond being Denied Official Help by British Diplomats in Iran

January 25, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has this story from the Groaniad, http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/01/25/salmond-v-hammond-and-the-constitutional-crisis-caused-by-a-diplomatic-dinner/. When Alex Salmond of the SNP flew to Iran just before Christmas on an official visit as the SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesman, he expected to have the facilities of the British embassy in Tehran made available to him. When he got there, he was told by the ambassador, Philip Hammond, that he was not entitled to them, and so ended up hosting the event himself back at his hotel, paying not just for his own delegation, but for the staff from the embassy and the Iranian guests, who attended.

Salmond makes the point that this politicisation of the Foreign Office is absolutely unacceptable. It is the British Foreign Office, not that of the Tory party.

It’s an attitude of which the Conservatives, their SPADs and Philip Hammond should be ashamed. Firstly, it’s a disgraceful way to treat fellow Brits, especially in front of foreign dignitaries like the Iranians. It truly shames Britain.

And it’s especially embarrassing because this was done in front of the Iranians. The Iranians are deeply suspicious of Britain. This stems partly from their experience of British colonialism during the late 19th and 20th centuries, when Britain tried to draw them unofficially into the sphere of the Empire. British financial control and constraints were put in place following a series of colossal, and unrepayable loans, made to the Qajar Shahs, who were finally over thrown by the father of the last shah in 1920. After oil was discovered in Iran, the oil industry was effectively controlled by BP, who were then Anglo-Persian Oil. We seized the oil fields again during the Second World War, to prevent them falling into the hands of the Germans. About this, Churchill said, ‘In tempus belli leges silent’ – ‘in times of war, laws are silent’. When Mossadeq nationalised the Iranian oil industry in the 1950s, the CIA and Britain organised a coup to oust him. This led eventually the establishment of complete autocratic rule by the Shah during the White Revolution. And that, in turn, was the cause of Islamic Revolution and the Shah’s overthrow in 1979. During Britain’s control of the Iranian oil industry, Iranians were paid much less, and worked in poorer conditions than the British workers.

As a result, there’s a level of deep distrust in Iran towards us. John Simpson in his book on Iran states that there’s an Iranian proverb that runs, ‘If you see a stone in your path, it was put their by an Englishman’. Many Iranians also blame us for the Ayatollah Khomeini. In the 1990s there was a rumour going round that Khomeini was the son of a British oil worker called Williams. It’s completely untrue, but widely believed. And the subject of a number of jokes.

It was quite an achievement in the 1990s when diplomatic contact between Britain and Iran was finally restored and relations ‘normalised’, especially after the Ayatollah placed the fatwa on the head of Salman Rushdie. This, incidentally, hasn’t been lifted. It is much to the credit of Obama that he has prevented the Iranians getting nukes, and enabled the sanctions to be lifted and trade with Iran to begin again.

Britain can benefit from this. I can remember back in the 1990s Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili and other Young British Artists flying to Iran when the regime put on an exhibition of some of their works. Quite how that happened, I honestly don’t know, as the strains of modern, Western-influenced art, was one of the cultural issues the Iran revolutionaries were particularly reacting against. What is shocking to us is probably just as shocking to them. If not more so. But there you are.

Hammond’s fit of pique in denying official services to Salmond therefore seems to me acute counterproductive. It appears to show the Iranians that British politics between Scotland and Westminster is acutely divided, and that the British delegation have a strain of petty spite. This is not an image to project to potential business partners or allies in the common fight against terrorism and genocide in the Middle East.