Gulf News says: War of words can lead to real war
Gulf News - 10 August:
The guns of the war between Iraq and Iran fell silent on August 20, 1988. It was a bloody and extreme war of eight years, bar one month, between two regimes that were not prepared to concede their views or discuss peace. Thus, many hundreds of thousands of young lives were lost while old protagonists stayed at home and argued semantics over who was right.
That neither was right, that neither ultimately "won" the fierce battles is perhaps the underlying reason why there is still so much distrust between most Iraqis and most Iranians. Add to this complexity the differences between the Sunnis and Shiites, then all sorts or reasons can be found for suddenly escalating a trivial situation into a major confrontation.
With such tensions persisting between the two nations, even the smallest incident can be seen as a sleight and exacerbate an already fraught relationship. Thus, the abduction of an Iranian diplomat in Iraq announced on Sunday, together with the arrest of four alleged Iranian spies, is sure to make a bad situation worse.
Although the diplomat is the second to be abducted, the first being an Egyptian who was released after three days, this time it is because the militant group that has done the deed alleges the Iranian diplomat was "meddling" in sectarian issues.
With the Iraq defence minister inferring that Iran is their "top enemy" and Iran saying they have no intention of talking to the interim government on any issue - especially the planes that Iran is still holding, whether it is 22 as Iran says or 130 as Iraq claims - there seems little possibility of either side coming to any sort of agreement soon.
Such attitudes between neighbours do nothing to endear these nations to others in the region, or even in the west, where events are weighed very carefully and looked upon with alarm.
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