• 2 June 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions, UN

As experts urge Western powers to consider the fuel swap proposal, here is an overview of what is at stake for some of the major powers involved, from special niacINsight correspondent Shawn A:

Brazilian ambitions to assert itself on the world stage — and its capacity to frustrate US efforts on Iran — took center stage last week in a nuclear deal sure to complicate the Obama administrations Iran policy. In an agreement hailed by the LA Times as possibly a “stunning” breakthrough, Iran agreed to send 1,200 kg of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey to be stored and safeguarded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Although world powers have voiced skepticism about the value of this new deal, it is not at all clear that Obama’s efforts to pass a new round of sanctions will be successful. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who mediated the agreement, has a significant vested interest in its success. Brazil has its own enrichment facility that it concealed for some time and wants to make sure that Iran’s nuclear rights aren’t inhibited and turned into a legally binding precedent that could be turned against them. President Lula, who was accompanied by 300 businesspeople to Tehran has increased trade with Iran under his term and is planning an even greater increase: from $1.2 billion to $10 billion.

With the Obama Administration committing its focus on the sanctions track of its “dual-track strategy” on Iran, Brazil stepped into the vacuum, seizing on the opportunity to gain prestige on the international stage. President Lula — the man who dropped out of the fourth grade to become a shoeshiner — has overcome a lifetime of obstacles and is even now being considered as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize next year. It is also believed that he seeks to be Secretary-General of the UN after his term expires after this year.

Turkey, whose exports to Iran have increased 800 percent under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, also has an interest in preventing sanctions. Turkey has been buying gas from the Islamic Republic below market prices. The Russians and Chinese who normally prefer to sit on the fence, will likely water down any resolution aimed at Iran. China views Iran as a matter of national energy security and sees sanctions as threatening the “stability” of its energy security. The Russians have stated that they only seek smart sanctions, and the non-permanent members of the UNSC (Brazil and Turkey included) oppose any push for further sanctions. On Tuesday India expressed support for Iran’s nuclear efforts and called sanctions “counter-productive.” The global South, the BRIC nations, the Non-Aligned Movement countries comprising of 172 countries are against further sanctions. Nearly all countries outside the G-20 oppose sanctions.

As we enter a post-Western world with emerging powers increasingly asserting their role on the world stage, it will become increasingly difficult to gain consensus on issues like Iran. Jorio Dauster, Brazil’s former ambassador to the European Union views the deal as a major foreign policy coup for Brazil. “In short, despite the crying of the traditional opponents, I see Brazil’s engagement with Iran as a win-win situation for Brazilian diplomacy. But it is evident that the ‘old boys’ are inconvenienced by this new kid who has arrived on the block and who is not asking for permission to use the bathroom.”

During the Cold War, nations that fell out of the Western camp gravitated toward the Eastern camp, and vice-versa. For nearly 20 years the United States has been the only option for developing nations. Turkey and Brazil, with emerging powers like Russia, India, and China have signaled the reemergence of binary global politics. A Plan B has once again entered the global equation, and the emerging powers have, as Pepe Escobar puts it, “said they didn’t want to go along with the American approach to solving the problem (sanctions) and were vehemently against the Israeli approach (bombs away).”

The success of this deal is not at all clear at this point, but if nothing else it ushered in a new era in international diplomacy. Sanctions are believed to only drive up oil prices, cause further instability among OPEC nations, allow Iran and Venezuela to profit more from the back door, and further exacerbate the global economic crisis. All of this poses a significant challenge to the Obama administration.

Faced with an increasingly difficult global climate in which an emerging multi-polar world restrains Washington’s ability to maneuver, President Obama must adopt his own maxim of “dealing with the world as it is,” and not as he wishes it to be. Sanctions must once again be seen as a means to an end, and not an end in itself. The politically unachievable demand that Iran suspend uranium enrichment is an ingredient for continued lack of progress. There is no clear formula to resolving Iran’s nuclear dispute, but any first step must include recognition on the part of Washington of the interests of emerging nations and a display of the ruthless pragmatism that Obama promised would characterize his foreign policy. President Erdoğan put it best, “This is the time to discuss whether we believe in the supremacy of law or the law of the supremes and superiors.”

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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