• No doubt the U.S. did try to seize the two Iranians as Cockburn describes. However his last sentence, which is the entire basis for the headline and the basic “concept” of the story, is this: “The abortive raid Arbil raid provokd a dangerous escalation in the confrontation between US and Iran which ultimately led to the capture of the 15 British sailors and marines.”

    Unfortunately, there is nothing whatsoever to support that claim other than Cockburn’s imagination. Perhaps he’s projecting the way the U.S. or the U.K. would have responded to a similar action by the Iranians. I’m not saying it isn’t possible that the Iranian capture of the sailors was a response to this, I’m just saying that is pure conjecture on Cockburn’s part (and others who have made the same claim). As far as I’m concerned, the Iranians are innocent until proven guilty, and if anything, one has to assume that it was the British Navy which was conducting a provocation, not the Iranians. Whether or not they were technically in Iranian waters, and it seems there isn’t any actual “truth” to the question of what those waters are, the fact that the British are boarding ships in an area of the Gulf which is close enough to Iranian waters (if not in them) to be potentially confused as such is in and of itself a provocation.

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