• 10 February 2012
  • Posted By Richard Abott
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 2/10

Amidst increased sanctions, Asian powers push negotiation

The Foreign Ministry of China has said it would send an Assistant Foreign Minister to Iran to “have a further exchange of views with Iran over its nuclear program,” amidst sanctions that are affecting trade. China has already sought discounts on Iranian oil and cut purchases this year by over half, pushing up India to be the largest buyer of Iranian oil, although India is still working out the details of a barter system (Reuters 02/10). Moreover, Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, has said it would consider proposals from Iran in barter trade. According to Reuters, Tehran is offering gold bullion in overseas vaults and tankerloads of oil in return for food and basic staples (Reuters 02/10). Meanwhile, as a delegation of Indian businessmen head to Tehran for new trade opportunities, Prime Minister Singh said “There are problems with Iran nuclear programme. We sincerely believe that this issue can be and should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy” (Reuters 02/10).

Japan is trying to gain a waiver from U.S. penalties on companies doing business with Iran while it seeks suppliers to offset a reduction in Iranian oil imports. Japan currently gets about 9% of its oil from Iran and it has already reduced Iranian oil imports by 40% in five years (AP 02/10).

Iranian oil trade flows drop and steel imports collapse

The International Energy Agency has said up to 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of Iran’s 2.6 million bpd of oil exports could be replaced once sanctions go into effect, significantly greater than the 600,000 bpd of Iranian oil the EU bought last year (Reuters 02/10).

Steel exports to Iran, one of the world’s largest importers of steel billet, are collapsing because sanctions are preventing local buyers from using major currencies. Major steel traders are unwilling to accept payment in alternative currencies such as Indian rupees and Russian roubles. Steel billets are semi-finished long steel products used primarily in construction. The reduction in Iranian imports is depressing the prices of international steel billets, which fell by about $50 a tonne in one month (Reuters 02/09).

Opposition to potential Israeli attack

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned that an Israeli attack on Iran would be disastrous and should not be an option. He said Turkey does not want a nuclear power in the region, but that a military strike should not be an option and that they will never endorse another military tension in the Middle East (Haaretz 02/10).

According to Amir Oren of Haaretz, Israel will not strike Iran because, in part, the rhetoric is for deterrence. In order to launch an attack, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak need the approval of over half the 14 ministers belonging to the committee on security affairs. However, there are several ways they might not be able to get approval, especially if ministers resign amidst scandal (Haaretz 02/10).

Iran cuts off Internet access

According to CNET, major websites like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo email, and Facebook are no longer available in Iran. The government made no announcement about service interruption but the regime has previously cut off the Internet during protests and anti-government protests may be planned for Saturday (CNET 02/10).

Former Iranian official on how to engage Iran

Writing in Foreign Affairs, Hossein Mousavian, a former Iranian official who sat on the secretariat of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, explains how engagement between the United States and Iran has failed in the past. Mousavian also outlines how both countries should be able to reach a peaceful solution to current tensions (Foreign Affairs 02/09).

Poll finds nearly half of Americans willing to bomb Iran nuclear facilities

According to a YouGov poll, 44 percent of Americans strongly or somewhat support bombing Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities while a large, nearly 30-point, gap exists between Democrats and Republicans. A similar gap exists on whether Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon, with 64 percent of Americans believing that is Iran’s goal. 70 percent of Europeans believe Iran’s intent is to build a weapon, but significantly fewer support military action (CSM 02/09).

Notable Opinion:

In a post at The National Interest, Paul Pillar, former U.S. national intelligence officer and professor at Georgetown University, argues the United States should distance itself from attacks in Iran reportedly carried out by the MEK with Israeli help:

With or without confirmation of details of this story, the assassinations are terrorism. […] Anyone in Israel, the United States, or anywhere else hoping for a salubrious regime change in Iran would be foolish to have anything to do with the MEK.

Even more important than what is foolish is what is immoral. Terrorism denies the high ground to anyone who uses it, including the use of it in disagreements with Iran. It also hastens the slide through mutually reinforcing hostility into what may be a far more destructive form of violence (i.e., a war). Although the United States has not been involved in the assassinations, the nature of its relationship with Israel, both real and perceived (President Obama commented the other day about staying in “lockstep” with Israel on Iran), means that Israel’s actions suck the United States farther down the slide.

To read the full piece click here.

Posted By Richard Abott

Leave a Reply




XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


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,

[signature]

Share this with your friends: