Iran News Roundup 12/19

Talks accelerate on a potential embargo on Iran

In what could be a precursor to an embargo on Iran, a “coalition of like-minded countries” including U.S., EU, Arab, and Asian states will meet in Rome tomorrow for talks on how to maintain stable global energy markets in the midst of increased Iran sanctions (Wall Street Journal 12/19).

Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran has prepared for “the worst case scenario” and has a “road map” circumvent Western sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank and oil exports(AFP 12/16).

U.S. drone saga continues

U.S. cyber-warfare experts have questioned Iran’s ability to hijack the spy drone by overwhelming the drone’s GPS signal (Christian Science Monitor 12/16).  Additionally, U.S. officials say the drone actually crashed, further refuting Iran’s claims (Wall Street Journal 12/16).  On Saturday, Iran’s foreign minister said that Iran deliberately delayed its announcement that it had captured the American surveillance drone to test U.S. reaction (Huffington Post 12/17).

Human rights watch

The execution of Pastor Youcef Naderkhani, who faces the death penalty for the crime of apostasy, has been delayed (International Business Times 12/17).

Imprisoned Iranian Blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki is in poor health since embarking on a hunger strike ten days ago (Iran Human Rights 12/17).  

Student activist Setareh Elyasi, accused of disobedience and causing disorder in school, has been expelled from her university (Iran Human Rights 12/17).

M.E.K. investigation findings

As part of a five-part series, a National Post investigation has concluded that the Mujahedin-e Khalq recruited teens in Canada and sent them abroad to overthrow the Iranian government by force (National Post 12/16).

Iran arrests suspected spy

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry said its agents have arrested a person of Iranian origin on suspicion of spying for the United States (Huffington Post 12/17).  Iran has broadcasted the alleged spy’s confession (CBS 12/19).

Notable Opinion:

Jasmin Ramsey writes in her IPS News Agency op-ed that the U.S.’s latest sanctions on Iran may end up helping U.S. adversaries and raising global oil prices.

Nuland said Thursday that the administration was studying how to apply sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank “while causing minimum disruption for friends and allies of the U.S.” This begs the question of how that’s possible when enforcement requires U.S. punishment of foreign banks that do business with Bank Markazi. While Asian allies are scrambling for ways to cope with the U.S.-led initiatives, China and Russia are reportedly looking forward to exploiting them for their own benefit. (Meanwhile China and Iran are gaining in Iraq.)

Fears have long been raised about the economic repercussions of targeting Iran’s Central Bank and its oil exports. Iran could respond by blockading the world’s most important oil-shipping route, the Strait of Hormuz. Yesterday a discussion on National Public Radio also highlighted how Iran could actually gain from higher oil prices caused by a reduction in global supply

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

On Saturday, nine people died and hundreds were injured at clashes outside the military-controlled parliament building in Egypt. Egypt’s military council is describing the protestors as paid vandals.

The Syrian government has agreed to an Arab League initiative aimed at observing and ending the nine-month violent crackdown against protestors.

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.

Sincerely,

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