• 4 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Sanctions

NIAC released the following statement today in response to yesterday’s news that the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (HR 2194) will be brought up for a floor vote on the suspension calendar within the next two weeks.

The National Iranian American Council is deeply concerned that the House of Representatives’ plan to bring H.R. 2194, the Iranian Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA), to a vote the week of December 14, 2009 is a move in the direction of punishing the Iranian people instead of the Iranian government.

NIAC supports the Obama Administration’s ongoing engagement efforts and, though the Iranian government’s response has thus far been frustrating, the US must remain committed to working in concert with its international partners.  Considering unilateral sanctions at this time threatens to preempt and undermine the President’s multilateral efforts.

A successful strategy for dealing with Iran must have diplomatic engagement as its basis.  Sanctions can play a constructive role within that process, but in order to be effective they must target the Iranian government and the individuals responsible for the government’s reprehensible behavior, with a special emphasis on those guilty of human rights violations.

As Congress moves forward, NIAC encourages Congressional action to meet the following standards:

Do not harm the Iranian people No one has suffered under the repressive rule of the Iranian Government more than the Iranian people.  Unilateral sanctions such as those included in IRPSA will hurt the people of Iran immensely and do little to target the actors such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps who have consolidated power under the shadow of outside threats and profited under the sanctions economy.

As the Iranian people continue to stand up to their government, prominent members of Iran’s opposition movement, such as Mir Hossein Mousavi  and Mehdi Karoubi, along with human rights defenders like Shirin Ebadi and Akbar Ganji, have all spoken out strongly against broad, untargeted sanctions such as those contained in IRPSA.

Do not undermine the PresidentThe Obama Administration has invested in a strategy of engagement with Iran because it is the best option to change the Iranian Government’s behavior.  While this process has been predictably difficult, Congress must not rush to pass legislation that will undermine multilateral efforts and tie the President’s hands.  The President has been consistent in stating that he will evaluate progress on the engagement process once the year has ended.  This commitment was reiterated on December 3 by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, who stated that the Administration’s deadline for Iran is the end of the year.  If the House passes IRPSA now, they send the world a signal that the US Congress does not support the President’s plan and is taking steps to preempt it.

Do not undermine the unity among US partnersOn November 26, the IAEA voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution censuring Iran.  Significantly, all five veto-wielding members of the Security Council voted in favor of the measure, which opens up the potential for another round of Security Council sanctions.  The significant progress in uniting the Security Council is attributable to President Obama’s investment in diplomacy.  If Congress moves forward with sanctions that target our allies, that unity will collapse. Trying to coerce the support of the rest of the world with threats and penalties will not isolate Iran; in fact, it may only isolate the United States.

Posted By NIAC

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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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