• 24 July 2008
  • Posted By Arash Hadjialiloo
  • Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda

The recent news that the United States would be sending their number three official in the State Department, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns to take part in talks with Iran is a significant departure from previous policies. Last Saturday’s conference in Geneva with European Union foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili was considered a golden opportunity for the two nations to directly discuss Iran’s nuclear program. The move, which has been applauded by many experts in the field (and attacked just as harshly by the likes of John Bolton) has also been described in the Washington Times as the “most significant American diplomatic contact with Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.”

The White House, however, which has received praise for this shift in policy, has tried hard before and after the conference to refute the claim that the Saturday negotiations were in fact negotiations. Dana Perino, Press Secretary for the White House, held a press conference during which she was pressed on how there was a difference between what William Burns planned on doing in Geneva and official negotiations.

Perino stood by White House claims that this was not negotiation by saying that: “our [the United States’] principle remains the same, and the strategy and the goal remain the same, that they must halt the enrichment of uranium in order for there to be negotiations… nothing has changed in that regard.” The United States has held on to the belief that no negotiations can take place until Iran halts it uranium enrichment.  Perino may be refusing to admit that the US’ stance is softening because of President Bush’s comments at the Knesset, in which he compared speaking to modern day terrorists and radicals to the European appeasement of Nazi Germany.

His speech, considered by most people to have been directed towards Senator Barrack Obama’s stance on talks with Iran without preconditions, seems to be in clear contradiction with the move to include Burns in the talks with Iran.

The White House seems to be attempting to appear supportive of President Bush’s comments while at the same time doing the exact opposite. This refusal to admit that negotiations occurred between the contentious nations has frustrated experts and become fodder for comedians; Jon Stewart attempted to understand this denial all the time assuring the administration that “we’d be happy if you were negotiating [with Iran],” but if the White House would rather think of it as “bombing the Iranians with conversation, to feel good,” Stewart said they could.

Posted By Arash Hadjialiloo

    3 Responses to “Apparently it’s only a negotiation if you plan to listen when they talk”

  1. Peter Quinn says:

    Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

  2. Babak Talebi says:

    Thank you Peter…

    we appreciate the readership and are happy to see it growing – please do let us know if you have any suggestions for improving it, additional topics, or ideas on how to expand the readership.

  3. Babak,

    One suggestion would be if you can allow your readers to blog themselves on your website. I don’t know if it can be done but if it can it would be good.

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Sign the Petition


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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