“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Of course "Iran planned to snatch sailors."

25 March 2007Daily Mail
Hostage crisis escalates as Tehran accused of plotting kidnap at sea
By Norman Silvester

IRAN was last night accused of planning to snatch 15 Royal Marines and sailors to use as "bargaining chips".

Intelligence sources claimed the plot to take Royal Navy personnel hostage on Friday had been agreed five days earlier.

Eight sailors and seven marines - including one woman - were captured on Friday while carrying out anti-smuggling patrols in the Arabian Gulf.

But military sources in Iran's capital Tehran - quoted in reports in Israel - said the kidnap had been agreed on March 18.

The captured sailors and marines were to be used to try and force release of five Iranians taken prisoner by US troops in Iraq.

The seizure also comes before the United Nations' Security Council votes on tougher sanctions linked to Iran's nuclear programme.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already cancelled a planned trip to New York to address the UN before the vote.

Yesterday, the Foreign Office held crisis talks with Iran's ambassador Rasoul Movahedian in London and demanded the unconditional release of the prisoners.

The 15 crew members were said to have been flown to the country's capital Tehran for questioning.

Iranian armed forces spokesman General Ali Reza Afshar said the sailors and marines have admitted to being in Iranian waters illegally.

He said: "Personnel are being interrogated and have confessed to aggression into the Islamic Republic of Iran's waters."

The 15 sailors and marines serve on Plymouth-based HMS Cornwall, which patrols Iraqi territorial waters in the northern Gulf to combat smuggling and protect oil rigs.

They were surrounded by six Iranian gunboats on Friday as they reboarded their two small dinghies after searching an Arab craft.

The Cornwall's commander, Commodore Nick Lambert, said: "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that they were in Iraqi territorial waters.

"Equally, the Iranians may well claim that they were in Iranian waters. The extent and definition of territorial waters in this part of the world is very complicated.

"Hopefully, we will see the early release of my people."

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell insisted: "The UK will not be blackmailed. Iran has a choice - to act responsibly, or face greater isolation."

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