Saturday, April 03, 2010

What's up with Diego Garcia?

About four years ago Guambat ran a little post on then recent events regarding Diego Garcia. Diego Garcia is a sparse island in the Chagos Archipelago of sparser yet islands in the Indian Ocean, with huge strategic interests. It is a British colony, heavily relied upon by the US as a air base for military and CIA purposes.

That post was about moves being made by the indigenous population to reclaim and move back to parts of the islands.

Over the years, from time to time, Guambat's StatCounter hit-o-meter showed sporatic and very little interest in the post -- which is far greater than most others.

Of late there has been a noticeably increased number of hits on it.

So what's happening?

Guambat can't say as he really has any idea, but some of the new items seem linked to the state of the relationship, formally "special", between the US and England, the American term for the UK, which Guambat picked up on a few days back.

Such as,
It’s over: MPs say the special relationship with US is dead

The report calls for a comprehensive review of the use by the CIA of British bases, such as that on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to carry out extraordinary rendition.

“The issues relating to rendition through Diego Garcia to which we have previously drawn attention raise disturbing questions about the uses to which US bases on British territory are put”, the MPs say.

They express regret at “considerable restraints” on the ability of both the government and parliament to scrutinise US activities carried out on British territory.

Some of the interest may come from the move by the UK, following on the example set by George Bush in the Marianas Islands in the dying days of his administration, to quarantine the area around the islands, ostensibly for environmental concerns.

Such as,
Chagos: World’s largest marine reserve

and, World's protected oceans doubled by UK move

Britain created the world's biggest marine reserve in its Indian Ocean territory on Thursday, pleasing environmentalists but angering exiled Chagos Islanders who say it creates an obstacle to them returning home.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband ordered the creation of a marine reserve, where commercial fishing is banned, in the British Indian Ocean Territory, made up of 55 tiny islands, including Diego Garcia, which houses a US air base.

About 2000 Chagos Islanders were forcibly removed from the archipelago in the 1960s and '70s to make way for the American base and have waged a long legal battle for the right to return.

Several British courts ruled that evicted islanders and their descendants had a right to return home but Britain's highest court overturned those rulings in 2008.

The islanders and their descendants are now believed to number about 5000. About a fifth are looking to resettle on the islands, which have belonged to Britain since 1814.

Representatives of the Chagos Islanders, who have now taken their case to the European Court of Human Rights, argue that the creation of the reserve will stop them returning home because it bars fishing, their main livelihood.

The decision by the British government comes weeks before an election that opposition Conservatives are favourites to win.

But is something more imminently ominous going on?

Diego Garcia: Iran attack mystery deepens Published on 21 Mar 2010
The Foreign Office is coming under mounting pressure to tell the truth about whether there are plans by the US to use the British island of Diego Garcia as a base to launch an attack on Iran.

“The use of British sovereign territory without restriction is clearly something which causes great concern,” said Sir Menzies Campbell MP, a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and a former Liberal Democrat leader. “The Government has been reluctant to give specific details about the nature of the agreement which governs US occupation. More transparency is unquestionably required.”

Last week, the Sunday Herald revealed 387 bunker buster bombs were being shipped to Diego Garcia by the US. Some experts suggested the move could be in preparation for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Last weekend’s Sunday Herald story about the shipment of US bunker busters to Diego Garcia was followed up by scores of media outlets across the world, in the US, Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

One report, from the World Tribune in the US, said the shipment had been originally destined for US bases in Israel. Quoting Congressional sources, it suggested the bunker busters had been diverted to Diego Garcia as part of an unacknowledged embargo on military equipment for Israel.

So, again, is this just some jumped up political smear ahead of the British elections, or is something less sinister about?

Certainly, the conspiracy crowd is now gathering around that bunker busting "story".
Such as,
Bunker Busters Shipped to Diego Garcia: Imminent Attack or Strategic Move?
[Or something else? Guambat is always suspicious when only two alternatives are framed.]
The internet is buzzing about this report on heraldscotland.com, where we find that large, "bunker buster" bombs are being shipped from Concord, California to a base on the island of Diego Garcia. The report claims the bombs are intended for immediate use in an attack on Iran. An alternate explanation would be that the bombs are meant to increase pressure on Iran to prevent enrichment of uranium to weapons grade.

And so, unsubstantiated conjecture in Scotland (the Scotland Herald "report" being the only source Guambat noticed echoing around the cybersphere), the reason for which may only have something to do with up coming elections, is being seeded as the basis for "serious" conjecture.

Such as,
Experts: Military Attack on Iran Would Dampen Prospects for Reform

Stay tuned.

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