07 April 2007

Who are we to believe?

The 15 British sailors and marines who were detained/ captured/ whatever have been released, for which everyone of sound mind will be grateful. The 15 have, according to the BBC, recanted what they said publicly while they were detained in Iran.

An editorial in today's Australian says "[President] Ahmadinejad turns an act of war into a PR coup", a view which has been echoed around the west. Another BBC report "Mystery shrouds UK sailors' saga" tries to look behind the negotiations which took place, but hasn't, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, yet been able to come up with anything conclusive:

The moral of the tale is that the gap between Iranian claims and what is really going on may be quite great. But do not rely on the British government to have the answer. Relations between Britain and Iran were strained before this crisis and have probably got worse. There isn't always a conspiracy or a backroom deal. Quite often diplomats, like the rest of us, are working in the dark.

Elsewhere in the region there are at least two sides to another story:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged for the first time yesterday that he has met with Taliban militants in attempts to bring peace to the country, but offered no details of the talks or sign that a serious dialogue is under way.

reports The Independent

Karzai did not disclose any details of the meetings, when they took place or with whom. Hundreds of former members of the hardline Taliban regime, including a sprinkling of former senior commanders and officials, have reconciled with the government since they were ousted from power in the US-led invasion in 2001. But current rebels leaders have apparently refused to hold talks, and over the past year, thousands more fighters have picked up guns and joined the insurgency, which in 2006 alone left some 4,000 people, mainly militants, dead.

Zabiullah Mujaheed, a purported spokesman for the militants, said that Taliban "do not want to talk to a puppet government."

"Karzai's government has no power and all their policies are designed by America," Mujaheed told The Associated Press by phone, from an undisclosed location. "If the US wants to negotiate with the Taliban, they should first leave our country," he said.

And while these word wars continue, so does the killing. Mr Blair's delight at the return of the 15 has been tempered by news that another four British service personnel have been killed in Iraq, while in Afghanistan, as The Independent story adds, five people were killed in what was apparently a suicide bombing.

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