Iran News Roundup 11/18

Central Bank sanctions being pushed by Congress
Minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation on behalf of Sen. Mark Kirk that would sanction the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) in an attempt to “collapse” the Iranian economy (The Hill 11/17).  In the House, a letter with bipartisan support, signed by House leadership and Foreign Affairs Committee leaders from both parties, was sent to the president pressing him to take action on the CBI (Read letter here).

Yet, while there may be support for CBI sanctions on the Hill, according to a USA Today piece by Oren Dorell, sanctions do not harm the Iranian government as much as they hurt the Iranian middle class.  As NIAC president Trita Parsi says in the article, sanctions actually benefit the Revolutionary Guard as they increase the profitability of smuggling, which the Revolutionary Guard has a virtual monopoly on (USA Today 11/17).  This message was echoed at a recent IISS event, where “panelists agreed that while sanctions produce social consequences, they will not achieve the political aim of ending the Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions” (Lobelog 11/17).  An Inner Press Service article spotlights economic concerns for Iran sanctions, pointing out that Obama administration officials worry that targeting Iranian oil, which is a primary driver for the world economy, could seriously harm Europe’s struggling economy and the U.S.’s tentative economic recovery (Inner Press Service 11/17).

Today the IAEA Board of Governors met to discuss the recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program.  According to the Associated Press, a resolution was passed, with the support of both China and Russia, “criticizing Iran for its nuclear defiance,” but that lacked some of the stronger language the U.S. had hoped for (Associated Press 11/18).  In response to the resolution the White House  issued a statement commending the IAEA resolution.

Some, including most recently the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, have called into question how much of the information in this latest report is actually new and deserving of the hype it is receiving (New Yorker 11/18).  For its part, Iran released a letter written to the IAEA, parts of which were released on their English media outlet PressTV, criticizing the IAEA for leaking information, which endangered the lives of their nuclear scientists (PressTV 11/18).

Secretary of Defense Panetta to discuss “consequences” of military action on Iran with Israel’s Barak
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Ehud Barak ahead of a security forum that they are both attending in Canada (Haaretz 11/18).  At the meeting, The NY Times is reporting that Panetta will warn Israel that an attack on Iran could have serious economic and security ramifications, while only setting back Iran’s nuclear program a year or two at most (NY Times 11/18).  Barak himself is currently under fire back in Israel, as MJ Rosenberg discusses in Huffington Post, for acknowledging that if he were the Foreign Minister of Iran he would seek a nuclear deterrent too (Rosenberg Huffington Post 11/18).

Additional Noteworthy News:

Ploughshares’ Joel Rubin writes about the importance of protecting funding for the IAEA, as the U.S. lacks diplomats on the ground in Iran, and as such the IAEA is the sole means for the U.S. to gather information on Iran’s nuclear program.

U.N. Special Rapporteur says in an interview with Omid Memarian that if Iran does not begin to cooperate, their human rights case could still end up at U.N.  Security Council.

Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman statement regarding how war with Iran is inevitable as sanctions won’t work “removes the crucial caveat, which most Iran-hawks embrace, that military action should only be taken if sanctions fail,” says Think Progress’s Eli Clifton.

The Daily Star reported that Switzerland just added 116 names, including Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi, to its blacklist of individuals and institutions with financial sanctions and travel embargos placed on them.

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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