• 25 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: June 25, 2012

Escalation, Counter-Escalation, and Repeat

The editor-in-chief of the hardline Iranian newspaper, Kayhan, argues that Iran can restrict oil tankers’ access to the Strait of Hormuz based on a “’right of retaliation’” under the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea after the implementation of an EU oil embargo. The paper’s editor, who is appointed by Iran’s supreme leader, wrote that Iran “‘can prevent the passage of oil tankers or ships with military or commercial loads that aren’t considered harmless for its security, order and peace’” (Bloomberg 6/24).

In response to concerns that Iran might block Hormuz, four U.S. minesweepers have arrived in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters to ensure the “‘continued, safe flow of maritime traffic in international waterways,’” said the U.S. Navy (Reuters 6/25).

In order to avoid continued escalation, analysts are calling for more “creative” diplomacy, and warning that without a diplomatic solution, Iran will escalate tensions in response to the U.S. and E.U oil sanctions. (AFP 6/24).

MEK: US “has no choice but to delist” group from terror list

Members of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, a designated terrorist organization that is also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), rallied at an event in Paris this weekend (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty 6/25). Former Presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich attended and spoke in support of the group, calling for regime change in Iran (MEK Press Release 6/25).

The group’s leader, Maryam Rajavi, also said, “‘Following the June 1 ruling … the State Department has no choice but to delist the PMOI, unless it wants to again trample upon justice and law to satisfy the Mullahs’” (Reuters 6/23).

Russians Discourage “Bellicose Actions”

Russian foreign prime minister, Sergey Lavrov, has said the P5+1 talk in Moscow with Iran were “quite useful,” but that, “In order to settle the issue, it’s necessary to refrain from constant threats of using force, abandon scenarios aimed against Iran, and stop dismissing the talks as failure’” (The Washington Post 6/22). He warned against taking “‘some kind of bellicose actions’” if “‘there is no final agreement by the end of July or August- and there simply can’t be any in such a (short) period’” (The Washington Post 6/22).

NITC Oil Tankers Change Names, Flags

The National Iranian Tanker Company has reportedly anglicized the names of 12 of its 15 vessels ahead of a July 1st EU embargo on Iranian oil (The Daily Star 6/25). On at least 11 of the NITC’s 39 oil tankers, the flag of Tuvalu, a pacific atoll, now waves (The Daily Star 6/25). Reportedly, many of the ships had previously carried Maltese or Cypriot flags, but political pressure inside the EU forced the Iranian vessels to change flags (The Daily Star 6/25).

Iran Accuses China of Noncompliance

Iranian news sources report Iran’s oil minister, Rostam Qasemi, has issued an ultimatum to China National Petroleum Corp., which won a $5 billion contract three years ago to develop the South Pars gas field (Bloomberg 6/25). Qasemi cited the Chinese corporation’s “frequent delays” (Bloomberg 6/25).

Notable Opinion: “What to Make of Moscow?”

Faridah Farhi, professor at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, discusses the varied takes on the success of talks in Moscow and why continued talks could bring about a resolution:

The reality is that Iran is faced with the difficult choice of continuing the talks in the hope that there will be more flexibility in allowing it to declare some sort of victory later, even while the softening of oil prices reduces its leverage. Undoubtedly, domestic pressure to suspend talks will mount if it becomes evident that a shift in the American position on enrichment or sanctions is unlikely to materialize. Iran will also attempt to increase its leverage by further advancing its nuclear program.

But at this point, a wait-and-see attitude is likely to prevail at least until after the expert-level meeting. In the words of an editorial in Jam-e Jam daily, this meeting will give the Iranians “a basis for a correct judgment” regarding what happened in Moscow.

Read the full article at Tehran Bureau

Posted By Jessica Schieder

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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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