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Free the Irbil Five

By Chandra Muzaffar, Tehran Times Opinion Column

TEHRAN, June 20 (Mehr News Agency) -- Over five months ago -- on January 11, 2007 -- five Iranian diplomats were abducted by the United States military in Irbil, Iraq. The abduction was not just a transgression of diplomatic rules. It was a blatant violation of international law and practice.

The Iranian government has lodged an official protest with the United Nations. It has asked the UN secretary general to secure the release of the Irbil Five. But the UN has not been able to do anything.

The Iraqi government has stated publicly that the Irbil Five enjoy diplomatic immunity and should not have been kidnapped. It also recognizes the right of access of the Iranian authorities to the abducted diplomats. But the Iraqi government is in no position to act on its own in this critical matter.

The U.S. government has ignored pleas from both the Iraqi and Iranian governments. It has no respect for diplomatic codes or the rule of law. It is a power unto itself. Its credo is 'might is right'.

Just imagine if the situation was reversed. What if five U.S. diplomats had been abducted by the Iranian army or its revolutionary guards in some third country? There would have been an international hue and cry. The UN Security Council would have tabled resolution after resolution against Iran. It would have imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Some quarters in the U.S. would even be contemplating an invasion of the country!

What are the options open to the Iranian government? Since the UN has failed to speak out against the arrogance of U.S. power, the Iranian government could take its case to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) or the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). However, given prevailing global realities, it should not expect either organization to rally to its cause!

About the author: Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the president of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), which is based in Malaysia.

... Payvand News - 6/20/07 ... --

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