• 15 December 2011
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Legislative Agenda, Sanctions

House takes aim at Iran humanitarian waiver

The House of Representatives yesterday voted to strip the President’s ability to allow repairs or parts for Iran’s civilian aircraft.

Currently, U.S. sanctions prevent Iran from buying new civilian aircraft or purchasing spare parts for their aging fleet.  They also prevent repairs and even block U.S. companies from conducting crash investigations to prevent future accidents. However, through the humanitarian waver, the President has the power to license these activities on a case-by-case basis.

This bill eliminates that waiver.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, “United States sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran have adversely affected the safety of civil aviation. The findings of ICAO should be upsetting to anyone, who is committed to the safety of civil aviation and the safety of air transport.”

Iranian Aviation Accidents since 2002

Date Airline Aircraft Location Fatalities
12-Feb-02 Iran Air Tours Flight 956 Tupolev Tu-154 Khorramabad 118
23-Dec-02 AZAL Antonov An-140 Isfahan 46
19-Feb-03 IRGC Ilyushin Il-76 Kerman 289
10-Feb-04 Kish Air Fokker-50 Sharjah, UAE 43
20-Apr-05 Saha Air Lines Boeing 707-300 Tehran 3
6-Dec-05 Iranian Air Force C-130E Hercules Tehran 108
9-Jan-06 IRGC Falcon Near Orumieh 11
1-Sep-06 Iran Air Tours Tupolev Tu-154M Mashad 29
27-Nov-06 Iranian Military Antonov An-74 Tehran 36
23-Jul-07 Iranian Military Mashad 0
2-Jan-08 Iran Air Fokker 100 Tehran 0
Aug. 24, 2008 Iran Aseman Airlines Boeing 737-219 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 68
15-Feb-09 Hesa Iran-140 Shahin Shahr-Hesa Air Base 5
15-Jul-09 Caspian Airlines Tupolev Tu-154M Outside Qazvin 168
24-Jul-09 Aria Air Flight 1525 Ilyushin IL-62M Masahd 16
9-Jan-11 Iran Air Flight 277 Boeing 727 Orumieh 77

Ironically, the State Department just last week launched a “virtual embassy” that includes as one of its goals, “to encourage travel to the United States.”  While that is a laudable effort, when taken in conjunction with Congressional efforts to make air travel more deadly for Iranians, any direct goodwill the Administration tries to create with Iran’s people is being undermined by the severity of indiscriminate sanctions that increasingly look like collective punishment.  In fact, the author of the aircraft provision, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), has said as much–saying the sanction will only work if they punish ordinary Iranians.

That is not to say that there is not an onus on the Iranian government to rectify this situation.  However, unaccountable Iranian officials prefer to play the victim card and blame the U.S. instead of protect their population from danger.  This just displays yet again how ordinary people in Iran are being squeezed in the conflict between Washington and Tehran; trapped between a repressive, undemocratic government on one side, and an oppressive Western sanctions regime on the other.

Within our current political climate, it is crucial to distinguish between policy that places pressure on the Iranian government and sanctions that are in reality directed towards ordinary people. Removing the humanitarian waiver belies any claims by policymakers that the sanctions proposed are only meant to target the Iranian government, not the people.

The message sent by eliminating this humanitarian waver is direct and will be interpreted as an explicit means to impede the lives of regular individuals.

If the bill is approved–it now rests with the Senate–it will not only lead to more deaths through the adverse effects on the safety of aviation, but will suffocate the mobility of millions, while increasing resentment towards U.S. policy.

Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar

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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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