• 17 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/17

U.S.-Israel missile defense drill cancelled as concerns grow over Israeli attack against Iran

Senior military officials announced that the largest joint US-Israel missile defense drill has been postponed (Reuters 01/15).  Israel officially claimed this was due to budget cuts, but some U.S. and Israeli officials said the exercise was mutually postponed to not inflame tensions with Iran (Yahoo 01/16).  Still other U.S. officials expressed concerns privately that Israel had postponed the Spring exercise to clear the way for a strike on Iran, while others speculated that the exercise was cancelled by the U.S. to send a signal to Israel and Iran (IPS 01/16).

U.S. defense leaders have become increasingly concerned that Israel is preparing an attack against Iran, stepping up plans to protect U.S. facilities in the region in case. U.S. officials have been sending Israel private messages warning about the disastrous consequences of a conflict with Iran (WSJ 01/14) Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff will be visiting Israel on Thursday amidst the United States’ increasing concerns of a possible Israeli military strike on Iran (Haaretz 01/15). Additionally, Sen. George Mitchell said a case has not been made for attacking Iran (Think Progress 01/13).

UK foreign minister William Hague said that all options remain on the table regarding Iran, but said, “we are clearly not calling for or advocating military action. We are advocating meaningful negotiations, if Iran will enter into them, and the increasing pressure of sanctions to try to get some flexibility from Iran” (The Guardian 01/15).

John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman downplayed reports that the U.S. is increasing military presence in the Middle East is solely because of Iran (Reuters 01/13).

U.N. Secretary-General condemns assassination of Iranian scientists

On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying that “Any terrorist action or assassination of any people, whether scientist or civilian, is to be condemned. It is not acceptable. Human rights must be protected” (Reuters 01/13).

Iran’s foreign minister sent a letter to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests, saying Iran has evidence of U.S. involvement in the assassination of Iranian scientist Mostafa Roshan.  “We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the letter stated (Reuters 01/14).

Meanwhile, nearly a 100 scholars, academicians, and journalists have signed a petition condemning the murder of Iranian scientists.

Sanctions watch

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that sanctions against Iran are beginning to have an effect (Reuters 01/13).  He also said that further sanctions on Iran’s central bank and oil industry must be implemented in order to affect Iran’s nuclear program (Haaretz 01/17).  Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon described the Obama administration’s approach to Iran sanctions as cautious and expressed disappointment (Haaretz 01/15).

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that, during his trip overseas, key U.S. allies in the Middle East expressed doubt that sanctions and embargoes would be successful in curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions  (The Hill 01/13).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin criticized the U.S. sanctions imposed on China’s state-run Zhuhai Zhenrong Corp, allegedly Iran’s largest supplier of refined petroleum products. “Imposing sanctions on a Chinese company based on a domestic (U.S.) law is totally unreasonable, and does not conform to the spirit or content of U.N. Security Council resolutions about the Iran nuclear issue,” said Weimin (Reuters 01/14). Meanwhile, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao discussed enhancing cooperation and trade in crude oil and natural gas between China and Saudi Arabia, reflecting concerns over disruptions in crude oil exports to China because of Iran sanctions (Reuters 01/14).

Iranian oil official Pirouz Mousavi claims that Iran has not stored oil in the Gulf and that crude oil exports have not been disrupted as a result of sanctions (Reuters 01/14).  Additionally, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed that embargoes and sanctions against Iran have had no affect on the country (Haaretz 01/14). Meanwhile, Iran warned Arab states against increasing oil production in order to offset any potential drop in Iran’s oil exports (Financial Times 01/15). Reuters reports that oil futures have gone up amidst tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia (Reuters 01/16).

On Monday, Iran’s head of international affairs at the National Iranian Oil Co. told reporters that Iran has renewed some of its contracts with Asian oil customers (Reuters 01/16).

Notable opinion: 

In a Washington Post op-ed, president of the National Iranian American Council Trita Parsi outlines an approach for successful negotiations with Iran:

Rather than resolving the nuclear issue, Iran and the United States are inching closer to a military confrontation. But war is not inevitable. Diplomacy, which the Obama administration prematurely abandoned, can still succeed.

“Our Iran diplomacy was a gamble on a single roll of the dice,” a senior State Department official told me in 2010. In short, it either had to work right away or not at all. In fact, six months after the U.S. talks collapsed, Turkey and Brazil secured a version of the fuel swap that Obama had sought.

Instead of continuing toward a war the U.S. military doesn’t want, we should double down on diplomacy, in part by emulating Turkey and Brazil’s efforts. In light of news reports this past week that Iran would be open to talks later this month with the P5+1 negotiating group — China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States — here are five ways we can learn from Turkey and Brazil’s interactions with Iran.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

The critically acclaimed Iranian film “A Separation” has won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

 

In an op-ed for The New York Times, Roger Cohen warns against and discusses the devastating consequences of an Israeli attack against Iran.

Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s elite Qods force, visited the Syrian capitol of Damascus.

Reuters reports that Iran has received the U.S. letter saying that it would not tolerate any closure of the Strait of Hormuz.

Top media advisor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, has been sentenced to one year in prison.

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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