Chinese Death-Mobiles

A colleague forwarded these photos of Chinese-made vehicles that appear to be designed for crowd-control, possibly to be used against protesters in Iran.

I think it’s interesting how a lot of the anger at the government’s repression against the protesters is now being directed toward the Chinese for supporting the regime.  China has long maintained an amoral foreign policy (that’s amoral, not necessarily immoral) which ignores issues such as human rights and instead takes a coldly rational view of national self-interest.  (ie Iran has oil.  China needs oil.  Period.)

Here lies a fundamental problem with America’s approach to Iran over the past two decades, in which we have relied almost entirely on using sanctions as a strategy unto themselves.  Cutting off trade with Iran might raise the cost of doing business for the government a little bit, but it also crowds out any possibility for a positive US influence.  This is what George W. Bush meant when he said we have “sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran.” Sanctions are a tactic; not a strategy.

When the US has open trade relations with another country, and that country’s government behaves in a way that we find disagreeable, the US can exercise powerful leverage by threatening to withhold trade until the troubling behavior stops.  But when we have no relations with a country — as is the case with Iran — we don’t have the same amount of leverage, and are reduced to casting aspersions from across the Atlantic.

Now, I am not arguing that we lift the embargo on Iran and start trading with Tehran.  I am simply pointing out that two decades of broad US sanctions have contributed to the situation we’re in right now, in which Iran is driven directly into the arms of the Chinese, leaving all of us to huff and puff without a thing to do.

Posted By Patrick Disney

    9 Responses to “Chinese Death-Mobiles”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Actually, Patrick, these particular armored water cannon vehicles (AWCV) are not the ones currently in use by NAJA (Iran’s police force, or IRIPF).

    There was a story last week that these AWCVs were being rush ordered from China to be used against the protesters in Iran. In reality, certain Iranian municipalities already have them in service, but to date there’s no evidence they’ve been activated for riot/crowd control post-2009 election.

    For a look at a real NAJA AWCV, see the following:

  2. jimmy says:

    Please check out this blogpost by homylafayette. It’s an analysis of several videos surrounding another protestor killed on Ashura by a police vehicle (NB, not the protestor killed in Vali Asr square.) It includes videos of her corpse being refused by a government clinic.

  3. Iranian-American says:


    Thanks for the link. The link also provides Pirouz’s amazing defense of Iranian government in the face of mounting video evidence that it is ruthlessly killing Iranian citizens. He cites beating of police officers by protestors, and suggests the incident is some sort of act of self-defense. To quote, “either an accident or a desperate attempt by police officers to evade an angry mob intent”.


  4. Rob 1 says:


    It’s only a matter of time before these trucks will start being used to blast people with hot water and chemicals on innocent protesters as the regime gets more desperate. However, I doubt they will have any real effect when faced with hundreds of thousands people who are just becoming more belligerent due to the government’s increased brutality.

    On a side note, everyone has to appreciate the comedy styling of Pirouz, Mark Pyruz, Sargard Pirooz etc etc. It’s almost as if he’s not a government agent at all, but a level-headed person with deep concerns of the well being of Iranians. Kind of reminds of Mohammed Marandi aka Mouth of Sauron trying to act calm and pretending to be unbiased until its starts to become more difficult to rationalize the governments crimes.

  5. Pirouz says:

    Slooooow down, fella. Go to homa’s blog post and reread that comment. It’s no defense. Instead of sharing the same conclusion made by homa, other potential explanations are provided. If you disagree, I suggest you revisit homa’s blog post and offer your own views where it is appropriate.

    Patrick, I’ve given this post another lookover and have additional commentary.

    These types of AWCVs shouldn’t really be described as “Death-Mobiles”. They do offer a less-lethal form of riot/crowd control. Not too long ago, they were even used by US law enforcement in Seattle, Washington.

    Also, you majored in international studies, so you should know that the China-Iran relationship is not solely based on the trade of oil. There are a number of other geopolitical issues at play, including geostrategic considerations, other elements of trade, and additional aspects of trade and industry related to the energy sector.

  6. Someone says:

    @ Pirouz

    “Slooooow down, fella. Go to homa’s blog post and reread that comment. It’s no defense.”

    Really? Here’s an excerpt:

    “This second incident [of a protester run over by government forces] could also be explained as either an accident or a desperate attempt by police officers to evade an angry mob intent on seizing the officers and subjecting them to severe beating…”

    Or it could be explained as even more evidence of government brutality and repression. A far more likely explanation for any reasonable person who’s been following Iran in recent months. I mean, you’d have to be blind not to notice the willingness of government officials to use disproportionate (and sometimes lethal) violence against non-violent protest and the consistency with which they demonstrate that willingness.

    Now, the question is, why is it that against the overwhelming tide of evidence, you choose to interpret every bit of information coming out of Iran in the most flattering of ways for the government and it’s forces?

    Consistently providing a narrative, which is unsupported by evidence, that justifies state repression is indeed a defense of that repression and you are fooling no one by claiming otherwise.

  7. Iranian-American says:

    Interesting and significant analysis can only come from an unbiased and neutral source.

    You have in a sense “blown-your-cover” with your selective skepticism towards the opposition, and your blind trust in the government’s claims. You have repeatedly placed the burden on the opposition to prove beyond a reasonable doubt all of their claims, and assume the government’s claims, which are often even more outlandish than your “analyses”, to be true until proven otherwise. You have conveniently forgot to mention key claims and counter-claims by the opposition, and yet make a point to reiterate bizarre and ridiculous claims made by the government.

    Thus, it is not analysis you are providing, but propaganda. It may be the case that you are not even aware of this. After all, people truly believe even more ridiculous things than you. E.g. the Birthers truly believe Obama is not a citizen, and interestingly, often provide the same kind of “analyses”. There so-call analysis regarding the citizenship of Obama is more ridiculous than your so-called analysis of events in Iran, but not as much as you’d like to believe.

  8. Pirouz says:

    You know, folks, a more appropriate place for this discussion is over at the source of this material: homylafayette’s blog. But since you for some reason insist on debating it here:

    You’re actually right. It could go both ways. I showed that with the inclusion of additional available evidence, different possibilities exist. Therefore I stated that I did not share homylafayette’s conclusion. Moreover, I did not offer a conclusion of my own.

    You’re also right. In fact, right here at niacINsight, I’ve stated that I serve as a sceptic, in many regards. I should also point out that, in the past, homylafayette has personally emailed me for help in interpreting material with which to interpret and analyze. Check the comments section, I’ve even been openly commended for it by the blog owner. And homylafayette is not the only one. Naj over at that neo-resistance blog also, from time to time, asks me for input, especially on Iran military issues- and she is very much Green. As is homylafayette.

    Myself, I do not restrict myself to inputs based entirely on matching my own personal political viewpoints. I like to think that’s because I’ve an open mind. And I’m definitely able to be persuaded. A university undergraduate recently pointed out additional photographic evidence that changed my interpretation of more recently obtained evidence.

    Agree or disagree, I’m willing to discuss subject matter and interpretation of evidence. But responding to knee-jerk reactions based primarily on emotion- well, this is really getting tedious, fella’s

  9. Iranian-American says:

    I’m afraid you have mistaken my “call-it-like-I-see-it” reaction as an emotional one. With all due respect, your analysis is nothing short of dishonest. The fact that you may not see that, does not make it any less true. Neither does the fact that you have been asked to provide analysis for Green blogs. Neither does the fact of who you voted for in this election.

    To claim your statement, which Someone kindly quoted, is no defense, is at best delusional and at worst dishonest. I would ask you the same thing you asked me– re-read your comments.

    Someone made my point better than I did in the following question:

    “why is it that against the overwhelming tide of evidence, you choose to interpret every bit of information coming out of Iran in the most flattering of ways for the government and it’s forces?”

    To honestly not see that this is exactly and consistently what you do is delusional. To see that this is exactly and consistently what you do, and pretend it is not is dishonest, good fella.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
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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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