• 21 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Diplomacy, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, UN, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 11/21

U.K. sanctions Iran’s central bank, U.S. stops just short

The Obama Administration is prepped to announce new sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical industry and against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) at 4:30pm today (Reuters 11/18) (Reuters 11/21).  These steps would place greater pressure for countries and companies to divest from Iran but stop short of placing complete CBI sanctions that could cause an oil price spike.  Officials say today’s step can ameliorate the risk of increasing oil prices and threaten the U.S. and global economic recovery.  Meanwhile, the U.K. went full bore and sanctioned the CBI, which cuts all ties between British financial and insurance institutions and Iranian banks (BBC 11/21).  Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said Iran does not want to use oil as a “political tool” but will do so if necessary (Bloomberg 11/20).

Political infighting amongst Conservative forces in Iran continues

In the run up to upcoming parliament elections, Ahmadinejad’s press secretary has been sentenced to a year in jail over “publishing materials contrary to Islamic norms”(Washington Post 11/20).  Babak Dehghanpisheh writes that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei continues to be groomed by Ahmadinejad as his successor, but that Khamenei won’t let this happen (Daily Beast 11/20).

Additional Notable News:

Iran boycotted U.N.’s nuclear talks on a nuclear free zone this week in response to the most recent IAEA report on Iran’s nuclear program, a NY Times article reports.

Think Progress reports that (contrary to all evidence) Senator John McCain said the green movement “might be supportive” of an attack to unseat the Iranian regime.

Seyed Hossein Moiusavian, the highest post-revolution former Iranian official in the U.S., says that the West needs to engage Iran and offer to allow Iran to have a purely civilian nuclear enrichment program.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, Secretary General of the High Council for Human Rights of Iran, gave an interview on MSNBC where he rejected the allegations of the IAEA most recent report.

Dozens of CIA personnel may have been arrested in Iran and Lebanon according to a report in Haaretz.

Richard Grenell attacks the Obama Administration in Wall Street Journal for not having as good a record on Iran as George Bush, blaming diplomacy (Grenell Wall Street Journal 11/21).

Ruel Marc Gerecht and Mark Dubowitz hint that sanctions can queue up military action on Iran, calling for new sanctions as “an unavoidable and necessary prelude to any more forceful action to stop Ayatollah Khamenei’s nuclear ambitions”(Gerecht and Dubowitz NY Times 11/18).

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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