Iraq impact? Britain set to re-open embassy in Iran

In another sign of increasing Iran-west ties in wake of escalating Iraq crisis, the UK is set to reopen its embassy in Iran, reports said Tuesday.

By Supriya Jha | Updated: Jun 17, 2014, 18:55 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

London: In another sign of increasing Iran-West ties in wake of escalating Iraq crisis, the UK is set to reopen its embassy in Iran, reports said Tuesday.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that as "circumstances are right" after the improvement of relations between the two countries since last year, Britain has decided to re-open the embassy in Iran.

he added that Britain will re-open the embassy in Tehran "as soon as practical arrangements are made" as a sign of "increasing confidence" in the state of relations between the two countries.

"It is our intention to reopen the embassy in Tehran with a small initial presence as soon as these practical arrangements have been made. I expect the Iranian government will similarly choose to take steps to reopen its embassy in London," he said.

Answering questions by MPs regarding Iraq crisis and re-opening of embassy in the House of Commons, Hague said that the UK was in favour of a wide foreign policy change regarding Iran as it is "an important country in a volatile region".

Speaking in the Parliament, he denied the claims that there was any "softening" of stance towards Iran, saying that the UK was still cautious as Iran has in past played a "divisive and sectarian" regional role but "we look to it to desist from that and we will use the expansion of bilateral relations to press for that."

The re-opening of the British embassy in Iran`s capital, Tehran comes three years after the UK had suspended diplomatic ties with Iran in 2011 after attacks on its British embassy.

The diplomatic ties were restored last year in November when Britain appointed a non-resident charge d`affaires to Iran.

Though the improvement in ties between the UK and Iran were expected after Iran elected a moderate PM in form of Hassan Rouhani and there was some progress on nuclear talks front; the move comes can be seen as another affect of Iraq crisis as ISIS (Islamic State of Syria and Levant) fighters are closing in on Baghdad with a lightning speed after having capturing Mosul, Tikrit, Tal Afar and other towns.

Already, the Iraq crisis has triggered possibilities of the US holding talks with Iran on how to fend off ISIS insurgency as it poses danger for both the arch foes.

The US had suspended all diplomatic ties with Iran in 1980 after over 50 of its embassy staff were held hostage.

John Kerry yesterday in an interview to the Yahoo News said that the US wouldn`t rule out anything constructive with Iran in order to drive away militants in Iraq, but the White House today, however ruled out any military collaboration with Tehran.

Earlier, a US official said that the US may discuss Iraq with Iran "on the margins” of the nuclear talks when William Burns will meet Iran Forein Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna.

The UK too, has ruled out sending any troops on Iraqi soil.

Weary of a long costly war in Iraq, US President Barack Obama has ruled out sending combat US troops to Iraqi soil, but is weighing options on how to tackle the recent crisis in Iraq.

 
The latest measure taken by the US in this regard is the deployment of over two hundred non-combatant armed troops in and around Iraq. The US is also considering sending an additional contingent of special forces soldiers as Baghdad struggles to repel a rampant insurgency.

The 275 military personnel being sent to Iraq will primarily protect US citizens and property as the country increasingly descends into chaos. The troops, if necessary, will get into combat mode to protect US interests. 

"The safety of personnel serving in diplomatic missions abroad is among our highest priorities. The presence of these additional forces will help enable the State Department to continue their critical diplomatic mission and work with Iraqis on challenges they are facing," Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, said that the US military personnel are entering into Iraq with the consent of Iraqi government and added that the US embassy in Baghdad remains open.

 
As Iraq seems to be heading towards a deeper crisis with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continuing their onslaught, the United States has decided to evacuate some staff from its heavily fortified embassy in Baghdad. 

 
Few staff from the US embassy in Baghdad will be relocated to the safer US consulates like Basra and nearby Kurdish territories.

 
The ISIS have struck Iraq with a lightning speed taking over Mosul overnight in such a way that the Iraqi forces were forced to flee their posts abandoning their uniforms and weapons.

 
A tweet from an ISIS twitter account last Friday said that 1700 Shia Iraqi forces had been massacred. 

Adding to the gruesomeness, the militants also posted some graphic photos of soldiers` execution on jihadist forums that showed masked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gunmen loading the soldiers onto trucks and then forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms behind their backs.

They also posted disturbing images of the bodies of the captured soldiers covered in blood after being shot by the ISIL members.  

Though the photos` authenticity has not been verified yet, if confirmed to be genuine, it will be the most fierce crisis since the bloodshed of 2006-07 that was followed by US invasion of Iraq in 2003.