What we didn't know
... was that things got fairly hot on the Iran-Iraqi border last year:
LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - Britain confirmed a report on Wednesday that it faced a diplomatic standoff last year with Iran after Iranian forces crossed the border into Iraq, but denied it had been brought to the brink of war.
Defence industry newsletter Defence Analysis said Britain was ordered by Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. general in Baghdad, to draw up plans to fight Iranian troops after Revolutionary Guards began "digging in" in Iraqi territory in mid-2003.
Close encounters which could have had severe consequences? Maybe. This article goes a little bit further:
An attack would almost certainly have provoked open conflict with Iran. But the British chose instead to resolve the matter through diplomatic channels.
"If we had attacked the Iranian positions, all hell would have broken loose," a defence source said yesterday.
"We would have had the Iranians to our front and the Iraqi insurgents picking us off at the rear."
No matter how speculative these two articles are (despite the mention of a seemingly more detailed article in Defense Analysis, there are a lot of unknowns in both of them), the danger does seem to lurk on the Eastern horizon:
The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, monitored in Beirut, reports Iran has massed four battalions at the border.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted "reliable Iraqi sources" as saying, "Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory."
In light of this, it wouldn't be a bad idea to press Europe to allow Turkye in their ranks, as to provide a more solid buffer in the North (see President Bush's comments this week), and to keep a close eye on the House of Saud, crumbling monarchy as it is.
[Note: an early posting yes, didn't catch a wink all night; probably something to do with a nearly full moon ...]