• 6 December 2011
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • Human Rights in Iran, MEK, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, UN, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 12/6

Obama vs. Kirk
Speaking at an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute today, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) claimed that the unanimous passage of his amendment to force the Administration to sanction Iran’s central bank demonstrated that support for Obama’s Iran policy has “collapsed” on Capitol Hill (The Hill 12/6).  The Obama Administration pushed back against the amendment, which was attached to the Senate’s defense authorization bill, warning that it could undermine international efforts on Iran, raise energy costs that would threaten a teetering European economy, and enrich Iran.  The Administration is working to change the central bank amendment during negotiations between the House and Senate as lawmakers reconcile a final defense bill to send to the President (Washington Jewish Week 12/6).  The White House has threatened to veto the bill, but for detainee provisions separate from the Iran sanctions .

Fallen U.S. drone

U.S. Military officials acknowledged yesterday that Iran is indeed in possession of an RQ-170 Sentinel drone (Think Progress 12/5).  Iranian military officials claim that the drone was taken down near Iran’s eastern border, yet Defense officials and experts doubt that the drone was shot down or taken down by a cyber-attack (Washington Post 12/5). There has been speculation that Iran could have used a ground based jamming system, Avtobaza, it purchased from Russia 6 weeks ago to take down the drone.  There is concern that Iran could exploit the drone’s technological capabilities (Christian Science Monitor 12/5). 

Escalating tensions

The Financial Times reports that Washington met with UAE representatives “to press for further isolation of Iranian institutions…threaten[ing] to cut off any transgressors from the US financial system” (Financial Times 12/5). Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran has raised “operational readiness” in response to increased sanctions and the fear of a military strike (Telegraph 12/5).

Human Rights

The International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran has launched a project to press for the release of prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

The Guardian reports that 50 countries will meet in Vienna to discuss international support for Iran’s drug war amid concern for the number of drug-related executions inside Iran (Guardian 12/6).

Additional Notable News:

International schools in Tehran have closed in the aftermath of the storming of the British Embassy, reports Reuters.

Reuters reports that the U.N. has urged nations to take in residents of Camp Ashraf, a base of the People’s Mujahideen Organization of Iran (MEK).

The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Clinton will meet with Syrian opposition leaders today.

Haaretz reports that Iran has threatened to cut off funds to Hamas if they flee Syria.

Posted By Ardavon Naimi

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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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