• 4 December 2009
  • Posted By Bardia Mehrabian
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions, UN

Make It A Team Effort

A recent AFP article reveals the growing frustration of Russia and China in Iran’s attitude toward compliance with the IAEA. Traditionally dependable allies of Iran, both Russia and China supported the IAEA resolution on Nov. 26 censuring on Iran due for its undisclosed nuclear facility in Qom. This has led some to believe there may be a chance for another round of UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.

“Russia supports the idea of sanctions against Iran,” said Fyodor Lukianov, editor of the Russian foreign policy journal Russia in Global Affairs.

“The real question will be ‘what kind of sanctions’? There will be deep disagreement, and Russia will not support very tough sanctions like those sought by the United States,” he warned.

But for its part, China is not willing even to go that far.

China, which relies on Iran for oil imports, has made no public change of position, and experts warned that while it might appear to support a tougher sanctions regime it would work behind the scenes to weaken it.

“China has joined to put pressure on Tehran. In Western eyes this is progress, but this is not sanctions,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at the People’s University of Beijing.

“China’s position on sanctions on Iran is generally to dilute sanctions. I have not seen any indication that China is willing to put severe sanctions on Tehran. China still has huge energy cooperation with Iran.”

Russia and China play a vital role in any effort to influence Iran’s behavior, and the West would do well to remember that a multilateral approach is the only way to go.

Posted By Bardia Mehrabian

    3 Responses to “Make It A Team Effort”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Bardia, why must the “we” adopt an anti-Iran stance in the first place? Why can’t “we” recognize Iran’s legitimate right to the nuclear fuel cycle, afforded as a signatory to the NPT? And why can’t “we” accept one of the many compromises Iran has suggested over the past decade of negotiations?

    This team effort you refer to is actually a lot more complicated an affair than that provided for in your very brief post.

    And I would never qualify Russia as a dependable ally of Iran. I suggest you read up on the history of Iran-Russia relations.

  2. Bardia says:

    I’m glad you pointed out my mistake in using the term “ally” inappropriately.

    My intention was to denote that Russia and China are vested economic beneficiaries or partners, which is different than the term “ally” implies. I would not want to suggest that Russia or China would come to the aid of Iran if the country’s security were to be compromised. This, I would believe, would be a more appropriate definition as to whether the world “ally” were to be used. However, in terms of the diplomatic front, Russia and China can and do help Iran’s “interests” especially if it were to complicate their economic relationship, as can be seen by Iran’s latest action of reviewing its ties over the censure.


    All in all, the question of the censure was never about whether Iran is allowed nuclear material, it’s about complying and being honest to the NPT and IAEA, which is not what is being done. Therefore, I stand by my position on punishing the Iranian regime, but not the Iranian people. Russia is exactly right when it asks, “What kind of sanctions are we talking about?”

  3. Emrouz says:

    well, this kind of analysis often ignore the importance of Iran for Russia. personally, I don’t think Russia would go beyond these tactical moves vis-vis Iran. why should Russia give in at this critical juncture? and what is the objectives of those sanctions? I mean, originally, it’s designed for Iranian compliance. how can Russia accept this scenario when it will be left out without a strategic partner in two critical regions of central Asia and Caucasus, let alone destroying the chance of diffusing in the MidEast…? and China is too much pre-occupied with her energy security…

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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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