• 1 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Afghanistan, Diplomacy, NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 11/1

Michele Bachmann claims that Iran threatened US and Israel with nuclear attack
Guardian: Iran expected to play role of the spoiler in Istanbul conference on Afghanistan
Iran economy minister survives impeachment vote over bank scandal
Iran suspends 2 soccer players for ‘immoral’ goal scoring celebration
Ilan Berman: Why engaging with Iran is still a bad idea
Iran expresses hope that Assad stays in power despite unrest

Michele Bachmann claims that Iran threatened US and Israel with nuclear attack
In an interview with Christina Amanpour, Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann falsely claimed that Iran has in the past threatened to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. and Israel.  Correcting her Amanpour pointed out that Iran denies having a nuclear weapon, and as such, has not made any threats to attack either country with a nuclear weapon. (Lobelog 10/31)

Guardian: Iran expected to play role of the spoiler in Istanbul conference on Afghanistan
With Iran-Turkish relationship experiencing difficulties over disagreements on Syria and Turkey’s decision to host a NATO missile defense system, the Guardian newspaper is reporting Iran is unlikely to play a productive role in the upcoming meeting on Afghanistan.   Rather than focusing on steps to stabilize the country the article reports that Iran is probably going to focus primarily on the removal of foreign troops from the country. (The Guardian 11/1)

Iran economy minister survives impeachment vote over bank scandal
In a 141-93 vote the Iranian parliament chose to keep the embattled economy minister in place after the recent $2.6 billion bank scandal.  The vote came after pleas from Iranian president Ahmadinejad to allow the minister to keep his position as removing him would be a setback for the government in their fight against international sanctions. (Washington Post 11/1)

Iran suspends 2 soccer players for ‘immoral’ goal scoring celebration
Two players from Iran’s professional soccer team where indefinitely suspended for a goal scoring celebration where one player “squeezed the backside” of another player.  In addition to being banned from playing soccer, both players are barred from entering sports stadiums. (Washington Post 10/31)

Ilan Berman: Why engaging with Iran is still a bad idea
Responding to a piece by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that criticized President Obama’s current Iran policy as “the same as Bush’s” and called for renewed engagement, Ilan Berman writes in Forbes that the U.S. should not attempt diplomatic engagement because it would most likely  fail and because the Arab Spring could spread to Iran and achieve our goals (didn’t the U.S. have diplomatic relations with every single state impacted by the Arab spring…?).  (Ilan Berman Forbes 11/1)

Iran expresses hope Assad stays in power despite Syrian unrest
In the first public display of support for Syrian president Assad, Iranian foreign minister Salehi says that he wants to see Assad remain in power.  With over 3,000 deaths reported in Syria since the beginning of the protests, Iran has been hesitant to voice its support for Assad and this statement marks a noted change from their previous unwillingness to comment on the Syrian leader. (Haaretz 11/1)

Posted By Loren White

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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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