• 1 December 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 12/1

European ambassadors called back from Iran
In the wake of Tuesday’s attack on the UK embassy in Iran, several EU countries have voiced their disapproval.  The UK has not only pulled all of its diplomats from the country, but has closed the Iranian embassy in London, though this is not yet permanent.  The NY Times is reporting that Netherlands, Germany, and France have recalled their ambassadors, with Italy considering a similar move, and Norway closing its embassy “as a precaution” (NY Times 12/1).  The same article warns that such steps are likely to complicate any future attempts to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program, as such diplomatic lines have served in the past as a means of contact especially for the U.S., which hasn’t had an embassy in Iran for over 30 years (despite what Michelle Bachmann may think).  Barbara Slavin writes that, while the downgrading of diplomatic relations with Iran might help further isolate Iran, this comes at the cost of increasing tensions that could spiral out of control (Slavin IPS 12/1).

Joint Chiefs Chairman: Israel may not notify U.S. if it strikes Iran
General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Haaretz that the U.S. would be alerted by Israel if it attacks Iran.  Dempsey says that the U.S. believes sanctions and diplomatic pressure are the best way forward right now, but that he is “not sure the Israelis share our assessment of that” and may move without the U.S. (even if this forces the U.S. into war) (Haaretz 11/30).  This came the same day that President Obama told donors at a campaign event that Israel is the United States’ “most important ally” and we would not compromise when it comes to Israel’s security (Reuters 11/30).  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and raised American concerns about the unintended consequences of military strikes against Iran.  According to a report by AFP, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak says that Israel is holding off an military strikes “for the moment” but that all options remain on the table for the future.

EU imposes new sanctions but oil embargo questionable
Today the EU decided to increase existing sanctions on Iran by placing travel bans on and freezing the assets of an additional 180 Iranian individuals and companies (Radio Free Europe 12/1).   Reuters is reporting that the UK has decided to support an oil embargo against Iran, whether it is “unilaterally or with France and Germany” (Reuters 11/30).  The Wall Street Journal writes that for the EU’s part, it has not yet decided on whether to implement an oil embargo against Iran, and that Greece is leading opposition to the measure, as they fear it could damage their struggling economy (Wall Street Journal 11/30).   With this increased talk of an oil embargo against Iran, Bloomberg reported today that crude oil is trading at a two week high, and concern over an embargo in the EU is a major driver for this (Bloomberg 12/1).

Additional Notable News:

The U.S.’s economic sanctions on Iran has created confusing conditions for Iranian Americans trying to send money to their families in Iran, reports NPR.

US News is reporting that Iranian sanctions could actually do more harm to the West than to their intended targets in Iran.

The Financial Times reports that the recent increase in tensions with the West are pushing Iranian politicians to ratchet up their rhetoric against the West.

Expanding international trade in surveillance technologies is a growing concern because, as a Washington Post article reports, once such technologies are getting into the hands of the Iranian regime and assisting in their suppression of dissenters.

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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