• 16 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Election 2012, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 11/16

U.S. officials warn Congress that proposed sanctions could benefit Iran
U.S. officials warned Capitol Hill at a hearing yesterday that Congressional sanctions proposals could be a “boon to Iran,” that would raise oil prices for the U.S. and Europe while creating a “windfall” for the Iranians (NIAC 11/15).  A State Department official warned that new indiscriminate measures aimed at the Iranian population could backfire, alienating a young population who otherwise “think very favorably of the United States” (AFP 11/15).

Is ramped up war rhetoric uniting Iran?
A recent Washington Post piece suggests that, in the midst of increased saber rattling, a normally fractured Iranian public is uniting around the nuclear issue, giving an unpopular regime “breathing room” (Washington Post 11/15).  Additionally, there are reports of students forming human chains around nuclear sites and circulating petitions calling for Iran to pull out of the NPT (Haaretz 11/15).  Center for American Progress’ Matthew Duss writes that military strikes would improve the Iranian government’s position and present an opportunity to consolidate power by eliminating any opposition (U.S. News 11/16).  Former Iranian president and reformist leader Khatami was quoted saying, “Iran opposition will unite with the government should Israel attack” (Haaertz 11/14).

GOP candidates support for military options draws criticism
Former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan wrote yesterday that, aside from Ron Paul, a vote for the Republican Party is a vote for war with Iran (Buchanan Antiwar.com 11/15).   Martin Schram of Scripps News summarized the rhetoric of the candidates and warned that, “Political boasts about war threats in the nuclear age cannot be brushed aside as politics as usual.  We must demand better” (Schram Scripps News 11/15).

Additional Notable News:

Kate Gould of FCNL writes in the Hill that the “Iran Threat Reduction Act” currently in the House would “take diplomacy with Iran off the table” by placing legal limitations on U.S. officials.  She suggests Congress should heed the advice of former Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and work to establish diplomatic channels with Iran.

Saudi Arabian Prince Turki al-Faisal, in a public appearance in Washington, was reported by Reuters to have said a military attack against Iran would be “tragic” mistake with “catastrophic consequences.”

NIAC’s Reza Marashi says Iran and the US are involved in a dangerous game of chicken based on misperceptions about “the strength and resolve of the other.”

Washington Post’s Thomas Erbrink reported that Ahmadinejad remains a major force in Iranian politics, despite suggestions that he was irreversibly weakened in his confrontation with the Supreme Leader this summer.

Posted By Loren White

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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.

Sincerely,

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