Social and Citizen Media have been abuzz with speculation these last few days about the pending acceptance of Julian Assange for asylum in Ecuador.
The Mainstream Media (outside of Ecuador) took up the story later when Ecuadors foreign minister Ricardo Patino made known Britains threat to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to take Assange by force.
This was an incredibly foolish move by Britain and has backfired into a geopolitical shitstorm that pits the US, Britain, and Sweden against a nascent Latin American / South American bloc eager to flex its muscles.
Julian Assange stated multiple times before he entered the embassy that the British government was going to extradite him to Sweden during the opening of the Olympic Games in London to ensure media coverage of the extradition would be swamped by Olympic fanfare.
In return this was shrewd politicking by Ecuador to wait for the Olympic Games to end before announcing they had accepted Assanges’ asylum request.
Because of the respect the vast majority of countries in the modern world (with the exception of Iran) have towards the Vienna Convention with regards to the protection of embassies and consuls this threat by Britain against Ecuador has rattled even former members of the conservative party like the former ambassador and human rights activist Craig Murray:
I returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration – to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and seize Julian Assange.
This will be, beyond any argument, a blatant breach of the Vienna Convention of 1961, to which the UK is one of the original parties and which encodes the centuries – arguably millennia – of practice which have enabled diplomatic relations to function. The Vienna Convention is the most subscribed single international treaty in the world.
The government’s calculation is that, unlike Ecuador, Britain is a strong enough power to deter such intrusions. This is yet another symptom of the “might is right” principle in international relations, in the era of the neo-conservative abandonment of the idea of the rule of international law.
Britain believed that Ecuador could be intimidated into rejecting the asylum request. They should have known that the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, is not easily intimidated which I cannot say for the embarrassing cowardice of the political leaders in my own country Australia. On the contrary Rafael Correa loves a fight and the inevitable media attention that comes from it.
Britain should have known that because Ecuador is a tiny country located between two much larger regional bullies, Peru and Colombia, has meant its had to learn to punch above its weight like a small kid in a rough neighbourhood.
Threatening to storm the Ecuadorian Embassy which is the sovereign territory of Ecuador under the Vienna Convention was undoubtedly going to bring up bitter memories of Colombias illegal bombing of a FARC camp on Ecuadorian territory in 2010.
After the threat the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino promptly called for an emergency meeting of the OAS (Organization of American States) and UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) UNASUR will vote overwhelmingly with Ecuador with the exception of of Chile and Colombia and most probably Paraguay (after its recent “soft coup”)
Argentina who are still reeling over the latest slight by Britain on the disputed Falkland Islands and Chavez who will want to drum up his us-verse-them-imperialista narrative in the middle of an election season he will most probably lose will spearhead the regional condemnation. The continents superpower and the country next in line to host the Olympics, Brazil, will take on a more tempered tone than the leftist firebrands but criticise the threat nonetheless.
Now lets watch the mainstream media use its spin machine to start slinging dirt on Rafael Correas complex stance on Freedom of Expression in Ecuador