Here’s a chart that Iran’s oh-so border-conscious Revolutionary Guards & Affiliates won’t show you. No, that red dotted line along the Iranian coast is NOT the route of British Royal Navy ships violating Iran’s territorial waters. It is the route taken by oil smugglers doing illicit, lucrative, sanctions-busting business with Saddam Hussein during the era of UN sanctions on Iraq.
The chart comes from the 2004 Duelfer report on Iraq, and the accompanying text explains that one of the routes used by Saddam’s UN-sanctioned regime to smuggle out oil was along the Iranian coast. And who was enabling this smuggling? Why, “the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy,” of course! –which “facilitated this illicit trade in return for a fee.”
Charles Duelfer’s Iraq Survey Group calculated that Iran got a 25% cut of the profits from all Iraqi oil smuggled along this route. Duelfer noted that Iran and the UAE were the most frequent destinations for this smuggled Iraqi oil, and “the majority of the smuggling vessels were owned by entities from these countries.” In other words, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards turned a neat profit by offering Iran’s territorial waters as a corridor for the sanctions-busting traffic of Iranian and UAE smugglers allegedly doing dirty business with Saddam.
The 15 British hostages now held by Iran were patrolling near Iranian waters in an attempt to stop the current smuggling of Iraqi oil. And although the evidence shows that British patrols have NOT been violating Iran’s territorial waters, the chart above is enough to suggest that in a saner world, they really should — with the full help and blessing of the international community.