• 16 December 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Persian Gulf

Rice declares victory in war of influence over Iraq

riceCheck out Democracy Arsenal’s look at Condoleezza Rice’s recent statements that seem like a relatively creative interpretation of the situation facing Iraq today.

Secretary Rice, along with other US and Iraqi officials, have acknowledged that Iran has made a deliberate decision to curb its destabilizing influence in Iraq, but she places the credit for this entirely on US pressure.

“It was getting to be a very tough business, given that we pursued them and pursued them hard,” the secretary said.

I think this is a pretty myopic take on things, and at best wishful thinking.  The situation in Iraq has improved over time because of a combination of factors: the troop surge, Gen. Petraeus’ change in counterinsurgency strategy, the Sunni Awakening, political reconciliation within Parliament, and Iranian cooperation with the Maliki government.  These, and probably hundreds of other factors, are the reason Iraq is better off today than years past.  And now with Iraq’s acceptance of the revised Status of Forces Agreement, why shouldn’t Iran feel more comfortable than before?

The lesson Secretary Rice should learn from this experience is not that harsh rhetoric, unilateral sanctions, and threats of attack are an effective way to deal with a problem.  Rather, the experience in Iraq proves that engagement between nations on issues of mutual interest can lead to a healthy and productive relationship.

This is a beautiful opportunity for the US to learn a lesson in democracy from its fledgling democrats in Iraq.  Let’s hope Secretary Rice will take another look.

from Democracy Arsenal:

On Iran, Rice said the clerical regime is finding it harder to operate inside next-door Iraq, and claimed that a turning point was last spring’s rout of Iranian-backed forces in the southern city of Basra.

“The Iranians find themselves unable to operate as effectively in Iraq because we’ve been very aggressive against their agents,” Rice said in her farewell interview with AP reporters and editors at the State Department.

In Basra, Rice emphasized, “they flat-out lost.”

The problem with this claim is that it assumes that Iran had staked all of its influence in Iraq with the “special groups” fighting in Basra. The reality is much more complicated.  Various elements of the Iranian Government have strong ties with Maliki and specifically ISCI – his most important partners in the Iraqi Government.  In fact, a recent study by Brian Fishman and Joseph Felter of the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point concluded that supporting these militias was a secondary strategy and that Iran’s primary strategy for projecting influence in Iraq is through its political relationships (PDF)

Even more here.

Posted By Patrick Disney

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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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