Leading article: Watch out for more warning shots

Share

A peculiar whiff trails behind the latest claims about Iran's involvement in attacks on British forces in Iraq. As though out of nowhere, we suddenly have an unnamed "senior British official" accusing Iran of making contact with insurgents and supplying explosives. The allegations go all around the houses: they are indirect in that they imply many links in the supply chain, but they are direct in their inference that Iran is responsible for the death of British troops. No proof is offered in support of the claim, but Mr Blair signed up to the general idea yesterday, albeit cautiously.

This is hardly the first time that Iran has been implicated in the Iraqi insurgency. Almost from the moment the occupation started to go wrong, US and British officials preferred to blame outside intervention rather than accept the reality of a home-grown resistance. They have strongly hinted at Iranian involvement, even at local cross-border incursions. At various times, they have accused both Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Muqtada al-Sadr of having active links with Iran, but not for a while.

One explanation, offered by supposedly baffled officials, is that by supplying the insurgents, the new Iranian government might be flexing its muscles. It might be trying to warn the US and Britain of the escalating cost of their Iraqi involvement. Or it might be trying to signal that attempts to influence Iran over its nuclear policy have a price. But there could be quite a different motivation. Either way, the initiative for upping the ante would come from Iran.

But there could, of course, be quite a different explanation. The relative British silence over Iranian involvement in Iraq coincided with the protracted nuclear negotiations between the European "troika" and Iran. Those talks are now over and the issue is on its way to the UN. Meanwhile, the British have run into difficulties in the once-peaceful Shia south. Who now has the greater interest in putting pressure on whom?

Iranian intervention of any kind in Iraq, but especially the supply of weapons or explosives technology, could be deemed aggression. From there, it is not hard to imagine "justified" retaliation in the form of a US or British air raid or two. That such a raid might be directed at one or other of Iran's nuclear research facilities could not be excluded.

For the time being, the accusations against Iran are more likely to be a warning shot, more a signal of the changing mood, than a prelude to war. Any new charges, though, are worth watching. Unnamed senior officials dropping convoluted hints about another country's bad behaviour smacks of media manipulation. Remember the 45 minutes and those weapons of mass destruction? We must not forget them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The power of anonymity lies in the freedom it grants

Boyd Tonkin
Rebel fighters walk in front of damaged buildings in Karam al-Jabal neighbourhood of Aleppo on August 26, 2014.  

The Isis threat must be confronted with clarity and determination

Ed Miliband
Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone