• 27 January 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • NIAC round-up

News Roundup 01/27

NYTimes: Israel doubtful that military strike would result in Iranian retaliation

The New York times reports that Israeli academics and intelligence officials are skeptical of the ferocity of Iranian retaliation tactics in the case of an Israeli strike and believe that possible measures, such as shutting down the Strait of Hormuz, would cause Iran to harm itself.  This belief is based on an analysis of Iran’s interests and previous actions, as well as the many over exaggerated threats presented in the past by Iraq and Hezbollah.  “A war is no picnic,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio in November. But if Israel feels itself forced into action, the retaliation would be bearable, he said. “There will not be 100,000 dead or 10,000 dead or 1,000 dead. The state of Israel will not be destroyed.” (NY Times 01/27)

Oil industry see Iran sanctions benefitting China, hurting West

Despite sanctions, Iran will continue to sell oil at a similar volume, although the majority of exported oil will go to China.  Being one of Iran’s only remaining customers, the Chinese will be able to bargain for a significantly reduced price on oil.  The West is relying heavily on an increased output from Saudi Arabia to avoid a spike in oil prices, which would hurt an already deteriorating global economy.  (Chicago Tribune 01/27)

U.S.-Israel joint missile defense drill now slated for October 2012

The largest-ever joint missile defense drill between the U.S. and Israel has been rescheduled for this Fall after news leaked that it had been suspended.  The drill, in which several thousand U.S. military personnel will be stationed in Israel, has been perceived as a signal to the region of the U.S. and Israel’s unity and resolve regarding Iran.  Auster Challenge’s abrupt cancellation two weeks ago fueled suspicions of a rift between the two countries in their approach to Iran, though U.S. and Israeli officials insisted it was due only to technical issues.  (Business Insider 01/27) 

EU banks end financing of Iran grain shipments

 EU banks will no longer finance the trade of grains, oilseeds, maize, and other products to Iran.  Iran is among the top ten global importers of maize, and Ukraine, one of its main suppliers of maize, have decided to stall further shipments.  “It is now a fact that no EU banks will do trade financing for Iran destination cargoes of grains, oilseeds or whatever,” one European grain trader said.  “The bottom line is it is very difficult to work trading to Iranian destinations through banking systems. Some Iranian buyers are seeking to use other payment methods avoiding letters of credit, basically direct payment, but this is unworkable for large-size shipments.” (Reuters 01/27)

Iran turns to Iraq to diminish effectiveness of sanctions

 Iraq and its long porous border have provided a new smuggling alternative for the Iranian government.  Prior to 2010, Iran used the UAE and Oman to smuggle strategic banned goods, but this became increasingly difficult due to U.S. pressure.  Iran has employed the use of Iraqi Kurdish smuggling routes, private banks, front companies to maintain its black market economy.  (Guardian 01/27)

Iran cracks down on media/opposition ahead of March elections

 Iranian authorities have arrested ten journalists and bloggers since the start of the year.  Human Rights Watch reports that these arrests “appear to be part of the government’s most recent campaign to disrupt the free flow of information ahead of parliamentary elections.”  “All of the detainees have had some sort of association with reformist papers or websites critical of the government.” (CSM 01/27)

Notable opinion: 

In her piece, “What Happens to the Characters of A Separation After Iran Sanctions?”, Iranian-American writer Maryam Zar assesses the impact of sanctions on ordinary Iranians through the context of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar nominated film:

Indulge for a moment, in a little imagination: It is January 2013 and the Western hemisphere’s embargo on Iranian oil has begun to have an impact on the nation’s economy. What happens to Termeh, Simin and Nader from the award-winning movie A Separation, under the sanctions?

Let’s take a peek inside Iran.

Nader, the doting father who works at a bank has lost his job. The banking sector in Iran has taken a huge hit as a result of the sanctions, so his position was eliminated. Their hard-studying, bright-minded daughter can no longer attend the private school she went to during the movie, and is now encumbered beneath a black robe in a segregated public school in Central Tehran where she is often subjected to verbal abuse for not being pious enough or for coming from a liberal family. She has been detained a few times for her involition to conform to the strict regulations of the school and is descending into depression. Simin, the feisty Mom with visions of a life outside of Iran’s borders, has been forced to move back in with her estranged husband and is not only caring for his Alzheimer’s stricken Dad, but has taken a part-time job as a maid for one of the neighbors, as the family struggles to make ends meet. She is bitter and frustrated, and her mental state is taking its toll on the entire family — not least on the 13 year old daughter who needs her mother more than ever.

To read the full piece click here.

 Additional Notable News:

Gold prices in Iran, after their sharp fall on Wednesday amidst the rise in interest rates to 21%, fell again slightly on Thursday to 800,000 Toman (about $470).

Ayatollah Mahdavi Kani, the head of the Assembly of Experts, said in a lecture, “Clergy should be independent and should not be a political plaything.”

In a threat to China, Nasser Soudani of Parliament’s Energy Committee: “If China enters the phase of sanctions…it will be [removed] from all of its projects in Iran. This will inflict heavy and considerable loss on China’s economy.”

Iranian border guards killed six Pakistanis after they crossed the border near Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province.

Posted By Jacob Martin

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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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