• 6 June 2011
  • Posted By David Shams
  • Congress, Neo-Con Agenda, Sanctions, US-Iran War

A “stealth” Iraq rerun

This past Thursday, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force released its newest briefing regarding sanctions on Iran, authored by Barbara Slavin.

Slavin writes:

Piling on yet more stringent and comprehensive penalties — seeking to embargo Iranian oil exports, for example — risks undermining the significant international cooperation the Obama administration have achieved without giving adequate time for the sanctions already imposed to work.

Unfortunately, these are the very measures that are now being proposed in Congress

The new bills being discussed in Congress would effectively impose an oil embargo on Iran and implement new restrictions to leave President Obama little room to work with allies in Europe and Asia.

Ali Gharib at Think Progress spoke with Slavin after the sanctions briefing and asked her about some of these proposals being discussed.  She explained:

What they want is a stealth embargo. And they want it to be slow and quiet so it doesn’t cause shocks to the market, but that’s what they want.

If it starts to look like a total embargo, they will lose support. It starts to look like Iraq.

That’s the very thing that makes me worried.  The humanitarian toll of sanctions against Iraq throughout the 90’s was disastrous.  We shouldn’t be seeking the same thing for Iran.

To that end, last week, thirteen organizations (including NIAC) sent a letter to Capitol Hill calling for Members of the House and Senate to oppose or demand significant changes to the proposed legislation.

NIAC is also leading a grassroots letter writing campaign to tell Congress to oppose the new sanctions.  The letter (which you can send to your elected officials here) states:

I am deeply concerned that Congress is intent on repeating the mistakes that dragged an isolated U.S. into war with Iraq, where an oil embargo and sanctions had already contributed to the deaths of half a million children while failing to change the Iraqi government’s behavior.

It’s a shame that so many policymakers apparently do not see the similarities.

But perhaps that’s because of the way the Iran threat is being sold.  As Seymour Hersh, whose recent New Yorker piece  revealed the continued lack of evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapon program, told Democracy Now last week, “you know, you could argue it’s 2003 all over again.  Remember WMD, mushroom clouds. There’s just no serious evidence inside that Iran is actually doing anything to make a nuclear weapon.”

We are all fully aware how that turned out.  And yet Congress seems intent to continue back down the same path.

Posted By David Shams

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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.



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