• 30 November 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 11/30

Fallout from embassy attacks
The Guardian reports that the UK government has given 48 hours for all Iranian officials to leave the country in response to what the British government believes was a government supported attack on their embassy.  The article states that while this step will not mean a complete severance of ties, it does mark a “new low in relations” (Guardian 11/30).   The Guardian also reports that Norway has decided to temporarily close its embassy in Iran, and that Sweden has called the Iranian ambassador in Stockholm to its foreign ministry to answer questions about yesterday’s events (Guardian 11/30).  The Jerusalem Post reports that Germany is also recalling their ambassador to Iran (Jerusalem Post 11/30).

Contrary to the reports from Iranian news outlets, an EA WorldView article provides evidence that the “students” at yesterday’s embassy attack were actually members of the Basij (EA Worldview 11/30).

Sabotage and the recent Iranian explosions
The Australian is reporting that yesterday’s explosion in the city of Isfahan did in fact occur and damaged Iran’s nuclear facility.  The article also quotes Israeli Intelligence Minister, who appeared to be hinting at Israeli involvement, as saying, “There are countries who impose economic sanctions and there are countries who act in other ways in dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat” (The Australian 11/30).  This comes on the heels of satellite photos showing extensive damage from the previous explosion at the Malard missile facility, which appears effectively destroyed by the blast (Washington Post 11/28).   In an op-ed in NY Times, Robert Cohen argues the merits of covert attacks, which he says have been the cause of the two recent Iranian explosions.  However, in the op-ed he also acknowledges that such covert attacks are problematic as their legality is dubious and that they “invite repayment in kind” (Cohen NY Times 11/29).

Aggressive Iran polices options likely to raise price of oil
The Financial Times is reporting that oil prices are already rising based on talks of a potential Iranian oil embargo by the EU (Financial Times 11/29).  AFP reported yesterday that the lead sponsor of Iranian sanctions, Senator Mark Kirk, says that Saudi Arabian officials have told him that they will help to make up any loses caused by an embargo against Iranian oil to prevent price increases (AFP 11/29).  Additionally, The Financial Times has published the findings of a PIMCO study that gives four potential scenarios for the price of oil if an attack on Iran was to occur.  All four of these scenarios show a significant increase in oil, of which even the most optimistic scenario would be “enough to collapse global economic growth” (The Financial Post 11/30).

Additional Notable News:
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warns that an Israeli attack on Iran would cause a regional war that would have severe consequence for the country, according to an article in Haaretz.

Human Rights Watch writes that residents of Camp Ashraf, the site housing members of MEK in Iraq, should be allowed to meet with UN refugee agencies privately and away from the camp in order eliminate “fear of harm from either camp leaders or the Iraqi authorities.”

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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