• 11 January 2011
  • Posted By Todd Ruffner
  • 3 Comments
  • Congress, Events in Iran, Sanctions

Humanitarian Tragedy in Iran Yet Another Wakeup Call

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6mbkCLGbZg]

This past weekend an Iranian Boeing 727 crashed in northwestern Iran while attempting an emergency landing, taking at least 77 lives.

Headlines regarding fatal plane crashes in Iran have become all too common in recent years, and the increasing number of innocent people killed in these incidents draws attention to the worst effects of US sanctions against Iran.

Thanks in large part to the US embargo on Iran, Iran is unable to maintain their aging commercial airliners, most of which have been operating since before the Islamic Revolution in 1979.  Since then, Iran has relied on spare parts garnered from international smuggling, the cannibalization of their own aircraft, and risky reverse engineering to piece together functional planes.

The White House has the authority to waive the embargo on civilian aircraft parts on humanitarian grounds on a case-by-case basis, though it almost never does so. (The last such instance was a Sept. 2006 decision to allow the export of several Airbus engine spare parts by the Bush administration.) This contradicts the principles of the Chicago Convention, to which both the United States and Iran are signatories, which requires that states “meet the needs of the peoples of the world for safe, regular, efficient and economical air transport”.

However, even the possibility of complying with the Chicago Convention and allowing the export of civilian aircraft parts to ensure safety of flight is too much for some Iran hawks in Congress to countenance.  As NIAC first reported, legislation introduced by Rep. Sherman (D-CA) last Congress would eliminate the President’s authority to license civilian aircraft parts. Sherman has previously expressed his desire to make US sanctions “hurt the Iranian people,” so his disregard for the consequences of this measure is clear, but he apparently does not realize that cutting off all accessibility to aircraft parts also endangers the lives the thousands of his Iranian-American constituents that visit Iran every year.

Rep. Sherman is now looking to reintroduce his legislation, though he’s looking for a Republican to act as the lead sponsor to improve the bill’s chances of being passed in the hyper-partisan House of Representatives.  Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced a companion to Sherman’s bill in the Senate but, perhaps in response to the opposition by NIAC and Iranian-American community, he had the good sense to strip the provisions that would put all passengers of Iranian civilian aircraft at even greater risk.

Before he reintroduces his bill, let’s hope that Congressman Sherman takes the opportunity to reconsider whether putting civilian aircraft passengers in Iran in even further danger is a good idea.

Posted By Todd Ruffner

    3 Responses to “Humanitarian Tragedy in Iran Yet Another Wakeup Call”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Just amazing, isn’t it Todd?

    This particular accident involving a Boeing 727-200 was probably due to pilot error. (It was the first fatal accident for Iran Air since 1980, not counting the USN shootdown of IR655).

    But the Iranian people shouldn’t be denied access to newer aircraft or factory support for all the aircraft currently in their possession.

    It isn’t as if they invaded another country on the basis of trumped up reasons, caused hundreds of thousand of casualties and created conditions where millions of people were cast out as refugees.

    What they’re guilty of is non-acceptance of US/Israeli hegemony in the region. They are, independent. And for that reason, the civil airlines servicing the Iranian people are denied access to current types of Western aircraft and spare parts.

    It’s grossly unfair, Todd.

  2. isfahani says:

    Duh-uh – maybe they shouldn’t try to fly planes in bad weather. But then again, I’m sure this is all the fault of the Zionists, British and Americans.

  3. Sam says:

    I also blame us the Iranian Americans in this country, almost 2 million in number but we keep quiet. If this sanction was placed on Israel, you could see thousands of letters and mass protests. But we Iranians only think about ourselves, always doubt each other’s motives and lob baseless accusations on each other. When are we going to wake up and have a voice in this country?

    Also NIAC as the voice of limited caring Iranian Americans should write a letter to President Obama and ask him to remove this inhumane and cruel sanction.

Leave a Reply




XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: