• 14 January 2008
  • Posted By Sara Shokravi
  • Presidential 2008 Elections

We are nearing the end of January as this presidential race is proving to be the most fluid and exciting in recent memory. Dare we say it, the Republican race is sizzling as the candidates are giving last-minute appeals for votes in the critical Michigan primary. The latest Real Clear Politics’ poll has former governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) holding a slim lead over Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) of 27% to 26.3%. The Iranian American community has a golden opportunity to make their voice heard as the Republican contenders are scrambling for votes.

Michigan has a substantial Middle Eastern community, clustered around the Dearborn and Detroit metropolitan areas. According to the IranCensus report, there are 11,683 individuals of Iranian ancestry living in the state of Michigan besides the large number of individuals that claim descent from other Middle Eastern ethnic groups. Their votes could have the greatest impact in this hotly contested race, since the Democratic National Committee’s sanction of their primary and stripping of delegates to the national convention. The GOP candidates will move carefully in clarifying their positions on US foreign policy towards Iran and the Middle East, giving Michigan voters the chance to elevate next week’s frontrunner and boost their hopes of capturing the GOP nod.

The Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination are battling it out for votes in the decisive South Carolina primary on Jan. 26, and courting support for the upcoming Nevada primary on Jan. 19. At the same time, Clinton and Obama are parrying over recent comments each campaign has made about the race and gender issues. It is interesting to see this new twist in the campaign as Obama and Clinton have disparaged each others’ foreign policy approaches, especially around the war in Iraq and US relations with Iran.

It brings a new, troublesome dimension to the current debate among the campaigns and the media over ‘gut vs. experience,’ with Obama touting his judgment in his opposition to the Iraq war and Clinton her experience.

In recent comments, Clinton has challenged Obama’s veiled comparisons to MLK in his speeches, going so far as to claim that President Lyndon Johnson was more responsible for the successes of the civil rights movement. This exchange followed a contentious scrum in the New Hampshire debate where Obama sneered on Clinton’s likeability. This reaction appears to reflect the Clinton campaign’s frustration in challenging Obama, especially in light of her continued defense of her vote in 2002 authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

These distractions are taking away from the conversation the country should hear from all the candidates in how America must confront the challenges (Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and counter-proliferation) it faces presently and in coming years.

Posted By Sara Shokravi

    One Response to “Democrats Battle for Votes in SC and NV as Republicans Lay Out for Michigan”

  1. danrobinsonniac says:

    The polls are showing Obama narrowing the gap in leadership and electability, two key qualities the Clinton campaign has used to draw distinction between HRC and Obama. CBS-New York Times poll released on Monday has Obama doubling his numbers among Democrats who say he can best a Republican in November, from 14% to 35%. But Clinton retains a strong edge in readiness to be president. The Republican side is a lot more fluid. McCain’s favorability numbers have jumped, but this recent poll is only a snapshot of some of the shifts in the national numbers. McCain’s comeback in NH no doubt helping with this surge. What do these numbers mean for voters in this election? On the leadership and experience questions, what are voters looking for in a candidate as the numbers suggest the Iraq war has shifted as the number one issue?

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7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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