Tag Archives: Iran

What to do about Boris?

Boris Johnson is a politician who divides opinion; a marmite figure if you will. Not many sit on the fence when it comes to the Foreign Secretary. Boris is also a figure it is hard to keep out of the news. His ‘unique’ style and tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time makes him a journalist’s dream. Qualities that some might argue are not becoming of a Foreign Secretary.

This week Boris has found himself under pressure again following comments he made to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. The Foreign Secretary stated that a British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe jailed in Iran had been teaching people journalism at the time of her arrest. Her family and employer have always maintained she was on holiday at the time of the arrest. The Iranian judiciary and media have seized upon these comments and claimed he has now revealed the truth about her actions. Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has already been sentenced to five years in jail, but could now see this sentence increase as a result of the remarks.

Mr Johnson has since apologised if his comments had “caused anxiety.” This apology of sorts does not go far enough for many and senior Conservatives have called for the Foreign Secretary to be sacked. Mr Johnson has also said that he is willing to meet the husband of Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe before he visits Iran in a couple of weeks. This is a trip which could have potentially serious ramifications for his future.

When considering whether the Foreign Secretary should be sacked, it is important to remember we don’t live in normal political times and he is not a normal case.

Presently, Theresa May has limited power. Two Secretaries of State, Sir Michael Fallon and Priti Patel have just resigned from the Government. Parliamentary arithmetic is difficult and Brexit legislation dividing the party is coming fast down the line. This is not an ideal time to sack your Brexiteer Foreign Secretary.

Furthermore, for all his faults Boris is a ‘Heineken politician.’ He reaches the parts of the electorate few other can’t. He was the Conservative candidate who won the mayoralty in Labour London twice. He was the spearhead behind Vote Leave’s success in the EU Referendum. This would be a man people could flock to on the backbenches.

When deciding her next move the Prime Minister has a lot to consider. Britain cannot afford to have a Foreign Secretary who endangers the lives of our citizens abroad. However does the Prime Minister have the authority to carry out the sacking and would she survive the resulting repercussions? It is an unenviable position for a Prime Minister already on life support to face.

Better Relations with Iran will benefit all!

Relations between Iran and the Western world have often been complicated with trust lacking on both sides. In recent months though there are signs this may be changing. The U.S in particular is making new efforts to reengage with Iran and a lot of hope has been placed in President Hassan Rouhani and his desire to modernise the country.

This thaw in relations appears to have reaped dividends with news that international nuclear sanctions placed on Iran have been lifted. This was after the international nuclear watchdog said Iran had compiled with a deal designed to prevent it developing nuclear weapons. Before the deal Iran could have enriched enough uranium to make a nuclear bomb within a matter of weeks, now it would take more than a year.

Nuclear sanctions have been in place since 2006. This coupled with other sanctions has had a very detrimental effect on the Iranian economy. The lifting of these sanctions could lead to a flurry of Iranian economic activity and is likely to help the country progress and develop.

The Middle East is an area in conflict presently. Syria remains in chaos and war is ongoing in Yemen. These situations have no easy solution. Iran is a crucial player in the region and is vital to any chance of long-term peace and stability and ending these conflicts. If the West could work with Iran rather than against them in these instances and also around the world then this should benefit all and is to be welcomed.

This change in relations has not been universally welcomed. Israel refuse to be convinced by Iran’s recent actions and have accused Tehran of still seeking to build a nuclear bomb. Secondly the U.S Republican Party through House Speaker Paul Ryan have also expressed doubt claiming the Obama administration had moved to list economic sanctions on the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

More progress can be made in talks between Iran and the West but it does appear relations are better than they have been for a while. This is to be welcomed. Of course there are still tensions and issues to be resolved but bringing Iran back to the table is a good thing and highlights the power of good diplomacy. This is a step forward and a situation we should celebrate.