• 18 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Iran Election 2009, NIAC round-up

Tuesday News Roundup

Iran’s Musavi Backs Karrubi Over Rape Allegations, Reuters

Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi accused “establishment agents” of raping detainees imprisoned after the country’s disputed June 12 elections, a reformist website reported. His accusation lent support to fellow reformist leader Mehdi Karrubi, who has come under fire from hard-liners for saying some postelection protesters were raped in jail. The authorities have rejected the accusations as “baseless.” “They [authorities] asked those who were abused and raped in prisons, to present four witnesses [to prove their claim]…Those who committed the crimes were the establishments’ agents,” Musavi said in a letter to Karrubi, the reformist mowjcamp.com website reported.

Reports: Iran envoy says reports he offered nuclear dialogue cite from letter, Foreign Policy

Iranian state television first reported that Iran’s ambassador to the UN nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna said that Iran is ready to talk with Western powers about its nuclear program without preconditions and based on mutual respect, before reporting that the ambassador said he was quoting from an Iranian letter to the United Nations, wire reports said Tuesday.

EU to back harsher sanctions; Iran angry, UPI

The European Union is increasingly ready to back harsher sanctions against Iran.  Brussels and the German government in Berlin are positive about backing “massive boycotts” against Iran if Tehran doesn’t show signs of cooperation in the nuclear conflict, German news magazine Der Spiegel reports.  Diplomats are mulling several measures, including a stop of fuel deliveries to Iran and further limitations for maritime and air transport from the Islamic Republic to the EU. If China and Russia don’t agree to sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, the EU would be willing to take bilateral measures together with the United States, the magazine writes, citing senior German diplomats.

Iran Bans Leasing Of More Russian-Built Planes, Reuters

Iran has banned its airlines from leasing more Russian-made aircraft or buying such planes second-hand after two fatal incidents last month, a senior transport official said in published remarks. “Based on the new directive which went into effect on [August 16], no [entity] would be permitted to enter leased or used Russian planes into the country’s air fleet,” said Mohammad Ali Ilkhani, who heads Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization. Expressing a preference for Western-made aircraft, he was also quoted as saying by the “Resalat” daily: “Eastern planes would be able to operate in the air sector only when they are brand new and made according to our order [specification].” U.S. sanctions bar the sale of Boeing aircraft to Iran and hinder it from buying other aircraft or spare parts from the West. Many Western aircraft rely on U.S.-made engines and parts.

Iranian Police Clash With Protesters Over Banned Newspaper, VOA

Iranian police clashed with protesters who gathered Monday outside the Tehran office of a reformist newspaper, which was recently banned by authorities. Witnesses say police dispersed dozens of opposition supporters who shouted anti-government slogans outside the office of the National Trust (Etemad Melli), the newspaper of former presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi. Some demonstrators were reportedly arrested. Aides close to Karoubi say Iran’s judiciary ordered a ban on the daily Sunday, after it printed his claims that some election protesters were raped while in custody. Karoubi angered Iran’s hardliners when he said women and young boys had suffered severe physical and mental damage from rapes in detention centers. Iran’s parliament speaker rejected the claims as “baseless.”

Political turmoil slows big oil moves in Iran, Reuters

Political upheaval in the aftermath of Iran’s disputed presidential election has slowed international oil firms’ efforts to find a way through sanctions to invest in the world’s second-largest oil and gas reserves. But outcry following the June election stirred the biggest internal crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution, slowing Iranian bureaucracy and spooking dealmakers in big oil firms. “It’s hard to slow down a turtle, but this has,” said an executive at an international oil company (IOC) on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak publicly. “This has put everything into freefall, no decisions are being made.” In the first months of Obama’s presidency, energy firms stepped up contacts with Iranian oil officials hoping that with or without President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, U.S.-Iran relations would improve. But tentative rapprochement has ended, and executives are back to playing a tricky holding game.

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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