• 5 December 2011
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 12/5

Sanctions Watch

The EU is apparently getting cold feet about imposing sanctions to cut off Iranian oil, citing the damage such a measure could have on European economies with little effect on Iran’s.  “Maybe the aim of sanctions is to help Italy, Spain and Greece to collapse and make the EU a smaller club,” jokes a trader citied in the report. (Reuters 12/5)

Reuters reported that Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said that sanctions against Iran have been “exhausted” and that future negotiations should continue resume (Reuters 12/2). On Saturday, Vice President Biden met with Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan, arguing that sustained sanctions on Iran are necessary in order to modify Iran’s behavior and urging Turkey to take similar steps (Wall Street Journal 12/3).  Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Iran’s Foreign Minister warned that any attempts to block Iran’s oil exports would have devastating effects on the world economy (Reuters 12/4).

Escalating covert war?

The National Journal reports on growing evidence of an escalating covert war against Iran (National Journal 12/4).  In the article, NIAC president Trita Parsi warns that the latest tit-for-tat incidents between Iran and the West could provide  “the pretext for a much larger war.”  Concern over escalating tensions came in light of recent explosions inside Iran and Iran’s recent claim that it has shot down a U.S. drone.  U.S. officials acknowledged Sunday that a drone has been lost near Iran’s border (Washington Post 12/4).

In addition, Israeli Defense Minster Ehud Barak said that Iran is getting closer to developing a nuclear weapon, but denied that the latest explosions inside Iran point to a military campaign (Haaretz 12/3). Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday about Israeli’s past history of making  “the right decision at the right moment,” even when allies object, implying that Israel would do the same in regards to Iran’s nuclear program (Reuters 12/4).  Meanwhile, Former Senator Bayh, an endorser of military action against Iran, said that an Israeli attack on Iran could lead to a “slippery slope” towards war (Think Progress 12/2).

 Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made some of his strongest comments to date suggesting United States opposition to military strikes against Iran (Jersusalem Post 12/5)  . Panetta, speaking last week at the Brookings Institute, said that an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities “must be the last resort” and would “ultimately not destroy their [Iran] ability to produce an atomic weapon, but simply delay it… ultimately it would have a backlash and the regime that is weak now, a regime that is isolated would suddenly be able to reestablish itself..”

 Additional Notable News:

France pulls diplomatic staff out of Iran after attack on the UK embassy, reports the Guardian.

ATP reports that the Iranian regime has begun to distance itself from the UK embassy attack.

The U.N. Human Rights Council condemns Syria’s ongoing abuses against its own citizens, reports Think Progress.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has called on Syrian President Assad to step down, reports Reuters.

The Huffington Post reported on Egypt’s first election since the fall of Hussein Mubarak, which resulted in a 62% voter turnout, the “highest since the time of Pharaohs.”

Posted By Ardavon Naimi

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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.



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