Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

We Don’t Need a War with Iran

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 4th December, 2011

The rhetoric between London and Tehran has been escalating alarmingly; a metaphorical bucket of cold water needs to be thrown over the situation before it bursts into flames that could otherwise cause conflict across the Middle East and beyond. There was no excuse for the protestors’ assault on the British Embassy copound in Tehran the other day; under the Vienna protocols, diplomatic premises are inviolate and host nations must help protect them. The fact that the Iranian Foreign Ministry apologised for the incident shows the government is aware of that, though the assault itself — in which there was some damage to the building, documents were scattered and embassy staff had to seek sanctuary in a safe room — means that at least someone in a position of authority in Iran sanctioned the protest. The British Embassy staff later left Iran and Iranian diplomatic personnel in London were expelled, receiving  heroes’ welcome when they returned home, underlining the theatrical aspect of the affair. But the context is much more serious than theatre.

The embassy assault was in reaction to Britain’s racheting up financial sanctions against Iran in the wake of a somewhat ambiguous report from the IAEA about the real nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. The government in Tehran disputes claims that it is trying to develop nuclear weapons capability, and there needed to be more incontrovertible evidence to the contrary before Britain raised the stakes in this increasingly dangerous stand-off. Passions are running hgh in the Islamic Republic among those who feel the country is surrounded by the US and NATO forces and is living under the threat of a pre-emptive strike from Israel. Israel, meanwhile, is nervous about President Ahmadinejad’s claim to want to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. Germany has reportedly sold (at a discount) submarines to Israel that are capable of launching nuclear missiles. The final, explosive element is the intensifying civil war in Syria, whose despicable régime is a firm ally of Iran. The combination of these ingredients makes a regional conflagration, into which Western powers could be drawn, only too plausible. At this juncture, everyone concerned would be well advised to bear in mind Winston Churchill’s dictum: “Jaw jaw is better than war war”.

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