• 17 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • NIAC round-up

Monday News Roundup

Reformist Iran newspaper shut down, Reuters

Iran has temporarily closed down the newspaper of leading reformist Mehdi Karoubi, who angered hardliners by saying some opposition protesters had been raped in jail, the website of his party said. Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi denied that the Etemad-e Melli daily, which together with the party website offers a way for Karoubi to reach his supporters, had been banned, Mehr News Agency reported. “Technical printing problems were the reasons for not distributing the paper (on Monday),” Mortazavi said. The website of Karoubi’s party, which is also called Etemad-e Melli (National Trust), said the newspaper was closed down late on Sunday on the orders of Mortazavi’s office.

Iran chief judge hints at trials for prison abuse, AP

The new head of Iran’s judiciary suggested on Monday that he would prosecute security agents accused of torture in the postelection crackdown, a nod from the country’s conservative leadership to widespread anger to reports that jailed protesters were abused. Sadeq Larijani was sworn in as head of the powerful judiciary on Monday after being named to the post by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The appointment could be a sign of how the supreme leader is seeking to balance among factions within the conservative camp, which has seen angry feuds between supporters and critics of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Larijani is the brother of parliament speaker Ali Larijani, who is seen as a top conservative rival of the president. Khamenei has strongly backed Ahmadinejad in the postelection crisis, but at the same time the judiciary appointment suggests the supreme leader wants to keep the sometimes unruly president in check with other conservatives.

Israel envoy to U.S.: We have no plans to strike Iran, Haaretz

In an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, Oren was asked about several reports suggesting that Israel was planning to strike Iran’s facilities to prevent the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons, although Iran insists its nuclear program has only peaceful goals. Zakaria said that John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, had gone as far as to say that he believed Israel was likely to attack Iran by the end of this year. “I don’t think it’s true. I think that we are far from even contemplating such things right now,” Oren said in response. “The government of Israel has supported President [Barack] Obama in his approach to Iran – the engagement, the outreach to Iran.” Zakaria questioned Oren’s statement, saying, “You’re just saying this, Michael. It is well known that the government of Israel is deeply uncomfortable and nervous about the idea of engagement with Iran.”

Can Game Theory Predict When Iran Will Get the Bomb?, New York Times

Bueno de Mesquita is one of the world’s most prominent applied game theorists. A professor at New York University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, he is well known academically for his work on “political survival,” or how leaders build coalitions to stay in power. But among national-security types and corporate decision makers, he is even better known for his prognostications. For 29 years, Bueno de Mesquita has been developing and honing a computer model that predicts the outcome of any situation in which parties can be described as trying to persuade or coerce one another. By early 2010, according to the forecast, Iran will be at the brink of developing one, but then it will stop and go no further. If this computer model is right, all the dire portents we’ve seen in recent months — the brutal crackdown on protesters, the dubious confessions, Khamenei’s accusations of American subterfuge — are masking a tectonic shift. The moderates are winning, even if we cannot see that yet.

Will Iran’s ‘Kennedys’ Challenge Ahmadinejad?, TIME

The brothers Larijani — often referred to as the Kennedys of Iran — are emerging as a powerful counterweight to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from within the conservative camp. And unlike other Ahmadinejad rivals, the Larijanis are fully endorsed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatullah Ali Khamenei. Over the past 30 years, the five sons of a senior cleric have been a major force in Iran’s power structure, either serving in or running for positions including the presidency and various diplomatic roles as well as posts in Cabinet ministries, the Council of Guardians, the legislature, the powerful National Security Council, the judiciary, Iran’s top broadcasting authority and even the Revolutionary Guards. Over the past year, they have consolidated their power. Mohammad Javad Larijani, a Berkeley-educated mathematician, has been a member of parliament, Deputy Foreign Minister and adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Bagher Larijani, a physician, has served as Deputy Minister of Health. And Fazel Larijani, a diplomat, spent years posted in Ottawa. All five are bearded and bespectacled.

Khomeini ally now leads Iran dissidents, Washington Times

A close aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, Mr. Sazegara was a founder of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, but an eventual falling-out with the clerical regime sent him back to the United States as an exile.  Today, he has become a global leader for Iranian dissidents who have risen up in opposition to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the clerics who have endorsed his disputed re-election.  Mr. Sazegara’s image now appears on many Iranians’ computer screens every day, all over the world, against a green background seared with a V for victory sign.  The Washington-based dissident’s wardrobe of green T-shirts and the green ribbon permanently tied around his right wrist adhere strictly to the opposition’s color scheme. Sometimes, the color branding is so strong that only Mr. Sazegara’s pale complexion swims out from a sea of green.

Posted By David Elliott

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

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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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