• 7 February 2012
  • Posted By B.Farshneshani
  • NIAC round-up

News Roundup 02/06

Obama Walks Back Panetta’s Warning About Israeli Strike

In an interview with NBC last night, President Obama appeared to walk back Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement that Israel was likely to strike Iran within months.  The President said he does not believe “Israel has made a decision on what they need to do” and said ultimately, Iran must be convinced that pursuing a nuclear weapon is not in their interests (Video NBC.com 02/05).  Barbara Salvin speculates that Panetta’s comments are part of a concerted effort by U.S. officials “to smoke the Israelis out,” forcing Israeli officials into an unprecedented public debate about their options in hopes of staving off war. The President also said in his interview that he believes “Any kind of additional military activity inside the Gulf is disruptive…and so our preferred solution here is diplomatic.” When asked about the dangers of retaliation posed by Iran against the United States, Obama said he did not see “any evidence that they [Iranians] have those intentions or capabilities right now.”  U.S. officials believe the burden of an Iranian retaliation to an Israeli attack would ultimately fall on the shoulders of the United States and this is why “We are telling them [Israel] every which way we can “Don’t do it [attack Iran],” said Salvin.
 (Washington Times 02/05) (France 24 02/06)

New Senate and White House Sanctions

Last Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved the toughest measures yet against Iran. One provision would aim sanctions at SWIFT, effectively locking Iran’s banking system out of the global financial telecommunications network(New York Times 02/03).  An additional an amendment to the bill would strip Persian artifacts of their last legal protections as noncommercial items.(NIAC)

Today, President Obama signed an executive order that would freeze all Iranian government assets held or traded in the United States. These measures, he said, are taken “in light of the deceptive practices” of Iran’s central bank to conceal activities already banned by previous sanctions. The new sanctions will require American financial institutions to freeze assets related to Iran’s Central Bank, rather than just reject them as is current practice. (Reuters 02/06)

Meanwhile, new reports of the humanitarian impact of escalating sanctions suggest they are increasingly being felt among ordinary Iranians. “I don’t care about the nuclear dispute. Soon, I might not be able to afford food and other basic needs of my children,” said Mitra Zarrabi, a school teacher and mother of three.  (Reuters 02/05)

Notable Opinion: Why Aren’t We Negotiation With Iran?

The absence of diplomacy between the United States and Iran has dragged on for over three decades.  “That is a longer hiatus than occurred after either the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 or the communist seizure of power in China in 1949” say Stephen Walt. Walt examines the rewards U.S. enjoys for its historical commitment to a policy of engagement and suggests, “Rather than unleashing the U.S. Air Force, in short, how about unleashing our diplomats instead? (Foreign Policy 02/03)

Other Notable News:

Russia and China vetoed the U.N. Security Council draft resolution aimed at condemning the continuing violence in Syria and calling for Assad to step down.   (Reuters 02/05)

On Sunday, the director of Mesghal.com, a site that updates currency and exchange rate news, was arrested by Iranian officials. He is being accused of manipulating the market as part of a plot to destabilize the nation’s economy.   (Committee of Human Rights- Persian 02/05)

Posted By B.Farshneshani

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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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