• 20 March 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy


[vodpod id=Groupvideo.2242726&w=425&h=350&fv=%26rel%3D0%26border%3D0%26]

Full text available here.  In Farsi here.

Trita went on record over at The Cable:

“This is huge,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a group that supports U.S. engagement with Tehran.  “First of all, he is addressing the people and the government, which has not been done before. At one point he talks about the Islamic Republic. He’s signaling he’s not looking for regime change; he’s recognizing Iran’s system.

“You always heard Rice and Bush say ‘Iranian regime.’ It’s a big difference.” That doesn’t mean Obama doesn’t support Iranian democratization, Parsi said. “But he recognizes the government that exists in Iran right now.”

Parsi also found remarkable Obama’s comments that he recognized Iran has a “rightful role among nations.”

“When he is saying the U.S. seeks constructive ties between the U.S., Iran, and international community,” Parsi added, “that is signaling strategic intent. He is making it clear is that where he wants to end up through diplomacy which he supports is a constructive, positive relationship with Iran, to put aside our enmity. That is huge.”

Interestingly enough, this is pretty close to an idea we reported on not too long ago: Joshua Gross’s proposal over at the Christian Science Monitor.  Kudos to Josh and the great CSM team.

Tell Obama thank you for his great Norooz message here.

NIAC press release below the fold.

NIAC Lauds President Obama’s Unprecedented Norooz Message for Peace

Friday, 20 March 2009

Contact: Emma MacKinnon
Tel: (202) 302-6920

For Immediate Release

Washington DC – President Barack Obama sent an unprecedented message to the Iranian people and government on the occasion of Norooz, expressing his deep respect for the Iranian nation and civilization, as well as the contributions of Iranian Americans to the United States.

Recognizing the meaning of Norooz as the dawn of a new day, President Obama expresses his wish for constructive ties between the United States and Iran, signaling his strategic intent to see an end to the 30-year era of destructive enmity.

The full video message can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/nowruz

NIAC lauds the President’s message, seeing it as a clear break with the policies of confrontation of the past.

“This is a historic message. It will be the topic of conversation at every Norooz celebration in Iran and in America,” said Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization. “He is doing something crucial: He is sending a signal of strategic intent that America’s objective is to find constructive relations between the US and Iran, i.e. ending the destructive enmity that has existed for three decades.”

Signaling this strategic intent is imperative since tactical collaboration with Iran in Afghanistan will be unlikely to achieve unless America assures Tehran that the broader long-term objective is to find a positive relationship between the two countries.

The message exhibited the President’s deep understanding and respect for the Iranian nation and civilization. Citing one of Iran’s most revered poets, Saadi, showed his understanding of what is important to and valued by Iranians.

Obama’s message was focused on behavioral change, not regime change. Recognizing that Iran has a rightful place among nations clarifies that America recognizes that a country and civilization of Iran’s size cannot be isolated and contained inevitably.

“By pointing out that this role comes with responsibilities, he signals Iran that its rightful role is within reach if its policies change,” Parsi continued. “This is a significant break with the Bush Administration policies.”

The President’s message continues the development of a new tone in American rhetoric, one that instills trust more than it emphasizes threats. In the case of ties to Iran, this is essential.

“Mistrust between the US and Iran is overwhelming. Through this message, the President just injected a huge dose of trust and confidence. Tehran should reciprocate by declaring its positive intent and demonstrating its respect for America,” Parsi said.


Posted By Patrick Disney


  1. Shawhin says:

    so, in my mind both the text and the context of Obama’s message can be praised or scrutinized… there’s always so much that I’m automatically skeptical about: e.g. this is a propagandist message, etc, but at the same time I’m inclined to take the message at face value and appreciate it is a first step (by the US perhaps) toward “apparently” constructive dialogue… I tend to get super-confused with all such matters and in the end inaction often results, so recently, I’ve been thinking instead to take a stance and go with it and see how it matures (may not be a wise decision, but who’s to say!). Anyhow, here’s a video response to Pres. Obama’s nowruz message: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXVGHcUoCyA

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

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.



Share this with your friends: