Iran News Roundup

NY Times Analysis: Rafsanjani seeking the mantle of Khomeini

He was also essentially usurping the institutional role of Ayatollah Khamenei.

“This was a speech Khamenei should have given,” said Farideh Farhi, a political scientist at the University of Hawaii. “That’s his designated role as the spiritual and political guide, to be above the fray. But Khamenei is probably too insecure and has too much to lose. He took sides. Rafsanjani rose to the occasion.”

The NY Times also reports that Ahmadinejad has selected Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei as his first deputy. The Times describes the pick as controversial but doesn’t mention that last year Mashaei found himself in hot water with conservatives for saying, “No nation in the world is our enemy, Iran is a friend of the nation in the United States and in Israel, and this is an honor. We view the American nation as one with the greatest nations of the world.”

Press TV reports on the conservative criticism of the appointment:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s choice of vice president has met with a hail of criticism, provoking calls from his Principlist supporters for the resignation of the newly appointed veep.

The hardline Ayatollah Yazdi, who strongly supports Ahmadinejad, attacked Rafsanjani for focusing on will of the people (AFP):

“The legitimacy of the government is given by God,” the ISNA news agency quoted Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi as saying.

“Acceptance by the people doesn’t bring legitimacy to (an Islamic) government. Mr Hashemi Rafsanjani ignored this important Islamic point and talked in both parts of his sermon yesterday as if governments are assigned only by the people.”

Kayhan newspaper slams Rafsanjani (AFP):

The Kayhan daily, whose editor is appointed by Khamenei, accused Rafsanjani of backing lawbreaking through his implicit support for the demonstrators who have clashed repeatedly with riot police and militiamen since the June 12 vote.

“Mr. Rafsanjani says a great number of people cast doubt on the election. But he doesn’t say why,” the newspaper said.

“If people have a suspicion, it is about… what’s behind the riots,” it added, in an allusion to accusations by regime hardliners that foreign hands have been behind the wave of protests that saw thousands take to the streets again on Friday after Rafsanjani’s sermon at the main weekly Muslim prayers. […]

But Kayhan took issue with the former president’s description of the situation as a “crisis.”

“Mr Hashemi knows what crisis means… but plot is the best word to describe the current situation,” the paper said.

The family of Iranian-American Kian Tajbakhsh fears show trial (AP):

“We are concerned that Kian is being held in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to obtain forced statements from him to use in a televised show trial,” the statement says. “Such statements are repeatedly extracted under conditions of torture for the sole purpose of staging televised show trials in an attempt to deceive the Iranian public.”

The statement was also posted on a Web site the family and associates have organized to draw attention to his captivity.

NIAC has called for Tajbakhsh’s release.

West must close Iran nuclear file: new atomic chief (AFP):

Iran’s new atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday that the West should close the Islamic republic’s nuclear file and cease its hostility towards Tehran.

“Legal and technical discussions about Iran’s nuclear case have finished … and there is no room left to keep this case open,” Salehi said in his first remarks since being appointed Friday to head Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation. […]

“We hope that more efforts be made (by the West) in order to obtain mutual confidence instead of the past six year’s hostile era and this case… will be closed as soon as possible,” Salehi said. […]

Salehi is known as an open minded administrator and he was the one who signed the protocol with the IAEA in December 2003 which gave the UN agency a freer hand in inspecting Iran’s nuclear sites.

Experts debate the significance of Rafsanjani’s speech

Reza Aslan:

For a man who has made a career out of mediating from the middle and playing both sides, Rafsanjani delivered an unusually pointed criticism of the Iranian regime’s handling of the election crisis.

Hooman Majd:

It was about as good as one could expect, if one is with the opposition, in terms of the kind of speech that someone like he would make. And there also must be remembered that the Ahmadinejad supporters in Iran despise Rafsanjani.

Afshin Molavi:

Rafsanjani did not take the wind out of the sails of the protestors. He did not offer a conciliatory speech, as some thought, and he said that this political fight will last another day.

Trita Parsi:

Rafsanjani very cleverly positioned himself as a unifying figure, emphasizing the need to bring everyone together. That was an indirect attack on the Supreme Leader, who has been widely accused of abusing his position by being so partisan in backing the Ahmadinejad faction. When the Supreme Leader is incapable of bringing about unity within the system, then anyone else who is capable of achieving that will strengthen his position relative to the Supreme Leader.

Posted By David Elliott

David Elliott is the Assistant Policy Director at the National Iranian American Council.

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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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