• 29 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Congress, Events in Iran, NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 11/29

UK Embassy stormed during Basiji student protest

Regime supports, protesting the UK’s most recent sanctions against Iran, broke into the UK embassy in Tehran.  According to a Washington Post article, the attackers threw petrol bombs at the building and committed various acts of vandalism inside the embassy (Washington Post 11/29).   According to a Guardian report, all embassy workers are now safe and accounted for, although Iranian security forces did have to intervene to free six embassy workers surrounded by protestors.  The Guardian also reported that in response to the embassy attacks, Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi has apologized to his British counterpart and called the incident “a very serious failure by the Iranian government” (Guardian 11/29).  The Daily Star reported, in addition to the main British Embassy, a second diplomatic compound was breached by protestors in Northern Tehran (Daily Star 11/28). (To view pictures of today’s events click here.)

Sanctions watch
According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, European Council President said that they are preparing more sanctions against Iran (Jerusalem Post 11/28).  In the U.S., Senators Menendez and Kirk appear to have agreed upon language for an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act, to be voted on this week, that would require the president to sanction the Central Bank of Iran and would expand existing sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry (Rogin The Cable 11/29).

Doubts continue to be raised about how effective these sanctions will be.  Ron Paul’s congressional website posted a new statement calling sanctions “folly” and recommending instead that the U.S. pursue a free trade policy with Iran to ease tensions and build an economic relationship.  Reuters reported that Iran sanctions are unlikely to work as the regime seems to be willing to accept the costs, and “are entrenching themselves in a siege mentality, ready for a showdown if need be” (Reuters 11/28).

Notable Opinion

Robin Mills writes in the National that no matter what outcome would come from sanctions they will be harmful to the U.S. and its allies.

“These sanctions therefore really have no good outcome for the US. Either they fail, or they hurt America and its allies.

Intensified rhetoric, whether from Tehran, Tel Aviv or Washington, stirs fears of crisis and pushes up oil prices. As long as Iran’s oil exports are not seriously affected, it probably gains more in the “fear premium” than it loses in increased transaction costs. Russia, another strategic competitor to the US, gains both from the current mini-Cold War, and if a hot war does break out.

All these questions on the technical efficacy of sanctions are, of course, secondary to their impotence as tools of policy. Iranian policymakers are unlikely to be swayed by even severe economic damage, sanctions hurt ordinary people while empowering the regime’s most hardline elements, and it is unlikely that Tehran can offer any concessions that will satisfy Washington.

Presumably US policymakers are well-aware of all these issues, suggesting that the latest round of sanctions is intended to provide the White House with political cover against accusations that it is “soft” on Iran”

To read the full piece click here

Additional Notable News:

Washington post has published before and after satellite photos of the Malard missile development base that was the subject of a suspicious explosion on November 12.

Inter Press Service reports that despite sanctions Iranians show a continue willingness to spend money, even on luxury items, regardless of increasing prices.

Their continued to be conflicting reports on the nature of a reported explosion in Isfahan, where Iran’s houses one of its main nuclear facilities, according to a report in the Guardian.

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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