• 4 June 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Amoei
  • Israel, Nuclear file, Sanctions

The Real Winner of the Flotilla Raid

Israel’s attack on the aid flotilla headed toward Gaza has sparked international outrage. But it also reminds us that since 2001, Iran has improved its geostrategic position more than almost any other country in the world, and it has done so based almost entirely on the blunders of others.

Just as scholars have for years declared Iran to be the ultimate winner of the US war in Iraq, the winner of this week’s events off the coast of Gaza is clearly Iran.

In a meeting Tuesday between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the topic of discussion was supposed to be imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran. But instead, the flotilla incident dominated.

Better than anything Iran could have hoped for, the flotilla incident threatens to complicate the sanctions push in the UN. Washington Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay predicts that where Turkey would have likely abstained on an Iran sanctions vote, it may now vote nay. “Turkey is now freer to vote with its heart on Iran sanctions,” he said, “which means that Turkish-US relations are heading towards a major crisis if we don’t end up defusing the storm gathering over Iran sanctions.”

All of this comes as great news to Iran. The Israeli raid and the resulting international backlash have distracted from the Iranian nuclear issue. On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a harsh report on the lack of cooperation with the agency and Iranian efforts to acquire equipment that would give it the capacity to enrich uranium at higher levels. The report received little media coverage having been overshadowed by the flotilla incident.

Other recent developments can only be cause for celebration in Tehran. Washington’s mild condemnation of Israel puts the Obama administration in an awkward position in which it can’t possibly please everyone. Turkey’s recent statements that it would provide naval escort to humanitarian ships sending aid to Gaza will also only prolong this whole circus, with a chance of more violence or confrontation.  All of this amounts to a miracle for the mullahcracy in Tehran, only days before the anniversary of the election.

And so the task of the Obama administration becomes increasingly difficult. At some point soon, it will have to take an unequivocal position on the flotilla raid. Will Washington placate a vital strategic ally like Turkey, or will it continue its unconditional support for all Israeli action? Appeasing one will come at the expense of damaged relations with the other, and no matter the outcome, it doesn’t make for a very good Iran policy.

As with virtually every major regional event since 2001, the Iranians will need only to sit back without firing a single shot to come out on top.

Posted By Shawn Amoei

    One Response to “The Real Winner of the Flotilla Raid”

  1. Itamar says:

    Everything in this article rings true, kudos. Curious though – would you go as far as saying Ahmadinejad’s regime had a hand in creating this diversion, or are they literally just sitting back and watching everything unfold? It seems almost too good to be true for them! Of course it could also be that the current Israeli government is just that stupid to let it play out this way (this is coming from a pro-peace, pro-palestinian, pro-green movement Israeli, please don’t forget we are out there!)

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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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