• 2 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
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  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 2, 2012

Iran Reacts to EU Embargo Implementation

Iran’s governor to OPEC, Mohammad Ali Khatibi, speaking of sanctions implemented on Sunday, warned “the EU would bear ‘the consequences of politicizing the market,’” (Bloomberg 7/1).  Iranian ambassador to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, suggested the current sanctions regime “by itself indicates that they are not willing to engage with us in a meaningful dialogue,” (NYT 6/29).

Three Days of Iranian Missile Tests Begin

Iranian Revolutionary Guards General Amir Ali Hajizadeh has announced three days of missile tests starting on Monday, saying the exercises are “a message ‘that the Islamic Republic of Iran is resolute in standing up to … bullying, and will respond to any possible evil decisively and strongly’” (Reuters 7/1CNN 7/2). The war games will include target bases “made to look like airbases of ‘extra-regional powers’” and “long-range, medium-range, and short-range missiles”, (CNN 7/2).  Hajizadeh, who is head of the Revolutionary Guards airborne division added that “If [Israelis] take any action, they will hand us an excuse to wipe them off the face of the earth” (Reuters 7/1).

Bill Would Stop Oil Trade through Hormuz

Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee has drafted a bill that would attempt to stop oil tankers from shipping crude through the Strait of Hormuz to countries that support sanctions against Iran. Iranian MP Ibrahim Agha-Mohammadi stated that as of Sunday, 100 of 290 members of the Iranian parliament had signed the measure (Reuters 7/2).

Iranian Domestic Markets Weaken

The imposition of the new measures threaten to “make the distortion in the economy even worse”, according to the New York Times, in a country where the national currency has lost 50 percent of its value in the last year and currency speculation has become a significant factor in the market(NYT 7/1). The dollar was trading at just over 18,500 Rials last Saturday, by Thursday it was above 20,000 for the first time since late January (Washington Post  6/29).

Oil Markets Face Insecurities

Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said last week “‘what happens on the day-of is hard to predict’”, referencing today which marks the first day of trading after the implementation of the EU embargo on the import of Iranian oil. Barclays oil analyst, Amrita Sen, commented, “If demand recovers, you will see the shortage quite quickly” (WSJ 7/1).

In a Bloomberg survey of 42 analysts on June 28, 16 of them expected crude futures to increase, 12 forecast little change in prices, and 14 expected a decline in prices (Bloomberg 7/2).

Iran to Launch Caspian Submarines

Fars, an semiofficial Iranian news agency, has quoted Adm. Abbas Zamini Tehran as saying that Iran plans to deploy “light submarines” in the Caspian Sea (AP 6/30).

Iran Changes Oil Market Strategy

Iranian oil minister, Ghasemi, said Friday Iran had begun exporting gasoline rather than importing it, as it had in the past, potentially allowing the Islamic Republic to cushion some of the sanctions (WSJ 7/1).

Iranian oil officials and contractors have said they may shut down some of its oil wells for temporary maintenance, which could damage reservoirs and push up global oil prices. JBC Energy, a Vienna-based oil consultancy, said on Friday that Iran’s crude oil production has fallen to its lowest level since 1989, following its 10-year war with Iraq (WSJ 7/1).

Iran Requests OPEC Meeting to Address “Irrational” Prices

On Saturday, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said, “We have asked the secretary general to set up an extraordinary meeting as prices have become irrational,” on his ministry’s official news website Shana (AP 6/30). OPEC had last met on June 14, where members agreed to keep output at 30 million bpd, but production has topped 33 million in the interim (AP 6/30).

Brent for August increased 7 percent on June 29, closing at $97.80, before sliding to $95.77 today, on speculation based on the Iranian oil embargo and labor strikes in Norway. On June 21st Brent had fallen below  $90 (Bloomberg 7/2).

Notable Opinions:

– “The Blame Game”

Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, writes in the Daily Beast that attempting to minimize the political blowback from Moscow Talks is a short-sighted solution to a long-term problem:

Since the political cost of a small deal was deemed higher than the political cost of no deal, failing in Moscow would translate to success in Washington. So according to diplomats from the P5+1, Obama changed the goal post and sidestepped the principle of reciprocity and made demands of the Iranians without offering anything in terms of sanctions that Tehran viewed as valuable. That way, the President could assert that he offered no compromise and no sanctions relief – which would cause failure in Moscow but be well received in Washington.

In political terms, the Obama Administration’s strategy seems to have worked. The talks failed to produce an agreement—and no one in Washington complained. There were no sustained attacks from the Republicans. No complaints from Netanyahu. Democrats in Congress stayed silent. In fact, Obama was praised for having stood firm—and refusing to reach a compromise.

But what is politically expedient in the short term may be detrimental in the medium-term and disastrous geopolitically. Come November, the failure to reach a deal may become a political liability. The Republicans will still criticize Obama’s record on Iran, accusing him of having failed to stop Iran’s nuclear program, betraying the Iranian people and not standing up for Israel’s security. They have no choice but to attack Obama, and Iran is viewed by the Republicans and by Israel as Obama’s weak spot—deal or no deal.

Read the full article at The Daily Beast

– “For Iran, sanctions are a price worth paying to preserve the Islamic republic”

Hadi Kahalzadeh and John Schiemann write in the Guardian that the West does not understand Iran’s cost-benefit analysis when it comes to sanctions and its nuclear program:

Sanctions also play into Khamenei’s efforts to consolidate his power and justify internal suppression. Hence, Iran may actually view sanctions not as a cost, but as a benefit. Iran can – and does – point to sanctions as the suffering it bears in its role as the standard bearer of resistance in the Islamic world against what it regards as US imperialism.

On this view, the Islamic Republic is a model to be emulated by Arab revolutionaries, the successful export of which only further legitimises the three founding myths of the regime. Sanctions are therefore an economic investment with short-term costs that will pay large dividends in the long term.

Iran is not playing chess, no matter how much the US and the EU might wish it to be so. With Iran and the west playing different games, a peaceful resolution in the near future seems very unlikely.

Read the full article at The Guardian

Posted By Jessica Schieder

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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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