• 17 October 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Persian Gulf, UN

Iran Fails to Gain Seat on UN Security Council

This morning, the UN General Assembly voted to appoint the next five non-permanent members of the Security Council, replacing five states whose terms are set to expire at the end of the year.  Iran had hoped to gain a seat on the influential body, most likely as a way of opposing further multilateral sanctions against its nuclear program from the inside.  However, Japan also sought a seat at the table, and proved to be tough competition.

Just moments ago, Japan easily won a vote of all 192 General Assembly members with 158 votes.  Iran only gained the support of 32 nations.

Along with Japan, next year’s Security Council will include new members Uganda, Mexico, Turkey and Austria.

Update: From the Washington Post:

Tehran, which is the target of three Security Council sanctions resolutions, was routed by Tokyo, receiving only 32 votes in the 192-member U.N. General Assembly. Iran’s loss represented a serious diplomatic setback for Tehran, which portrayed itself as a champion of the developing world that could balance U.S. and European dominance on the 15-nation security council. It insisted that it deserved a seat because it had served on the council only once in its history, under the shah of Iran, 50 years ago. John Sawers, Britain’s ambassador to the United Nations, said Iran’s ‘thrashing’ sends a strong message about the global displeasure with Tehran. ‘Hopefully, they will understand that this means there is no support from the international community,’ said U.S. diplomat Alejandro Wolff. Iran’s delegation declined to address reporters after the vote.”

Update II: Reuters reported on the Iranian Ambassador’s response to the loss:

‘Obviously the structure of the Security Council is such that it must be said in practice a few special countries make decisions there and impose ideas,’ Iran’s U.N. ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, told state television. ‘And it is natural that these countries are disinterested in independent ideas or the entry of states that believe in the necessity of re-examining its structure,’ he said. ‘Anyhow, some do not have the tolerance to hear an independent voice in a structure incompatible with today’s world necessities,’ he added.

Posted By Patrick Disney

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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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