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

Iran News Roundup: July 18, 2012

Netanyahu Blames Iran for Fatal Terrorist Attack in Bulgaria; Vows Retaliation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for a fatal terror attack in Bulgaria, saying “Iran is responsible for the terror attack in Bulgaria, we will have a strong response against Iranian terror.”

Panetta: U.S. Would Hold Iran “Directly Responsible” for any Hormuz Disruption

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Wednesday of a potential Iranian obstruction to the Strait of Hormuz, “The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region, by Iran or for that matter by its surrogate.” He added, “We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that the Iranian attempt to close down shipping in the Gulf is something that we are going to be able to defeat, if they make a decision to do that” (Reuters 7/18).

IRGC Official: Sanctions Aimed at Fomenting Regime Change

A senior official of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Ali Ashraf Nouri, has said the U.S. sanctions strategy is designed to “break people’s tolerance threshold and force them [to take to the streets] like during the 2009 sedition” (Radio Free Liberty Radio Europe 7/17).

Iran Condemns Assassination of Syrian Defense Minister

In the wake of a bombing in Damascus that killed the Syrian defense minister and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s brother-in-law, the Iranian foreign ministry released a statement condemning the attacks and criticizing other countries for arming Syria’s rebellion (Reuters 7/18).

Chicken Shortages Ahead of Ramadan

The Islamic month of Ramadan begins this Saturday, but staples such as chicken and meat might be harder of come by. The “chicken crisis” and inflation has prompted Iranian police chief Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam to criticize state television for showing people eating chicken, potentially raising class tensions (The Guardian 7/17).

Parliament Speaker Acknowledges Effects of Sanctions

Iranian press reports that Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani has acknowledged tightened sanctions are hurting Iran, saying that 20 percent of the country’s economic problems are due to sanctions (AP 7/17).

Human Rights Organizations Call for Iranian Activist’s Release

Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LDDHI) have called on Iranian authorities to release 2009 British Press Awards International Journalist of the Year, Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, who is currently serving a 10-and-a-half year prison term for “acting against national security”. Kaboudvand, a human rights activist, has been on hunger strike since May (The Guardian 7/18).

 Notable Opinion: “Iran and the Bomb”

Colin Kahl and Kenneth Waltz debate whether a nuclear-armed Iran would have stabilizing or destabilizing effect on the region in Foreign Affairs:

Kahl: The threat from a nuclear-armed Iran might not be as grave as some suggest, but it would make an already volatile Middle East even more conflict-prone. Preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold should therefore remain a top U.S. priority. Because a preventive military attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure could itself set off a series of unpredictable and destabilizing consequences, the best and most sustainable solution to Iran’s nuclear challenge is to seek a negotiated solution through a combination of economic pressure and diplomacy. It is possible to oppose a rush to war with Iran without arguing, as Waltz does, that a nuclear-armed Iran would make the world a better place.

Waltz responds: Kahl seems to accept that nuclear weapons create stability — or a form of stability, at least. But he notes — as do most scholars of nuclear matters, myself included — that nuclear stability permits lower-level violence. Taking advantage of the protection that their atomic arsenals provide, nuclear-armed states can feel freer to make minor incursions, deploy terrorism, and engage in generally annoying behavior. But the question is how significant these disruptive behaviors are compared with the peace and stability that nuclear weapons produce … [N]uclear weapons prevent minor conflicts from becoming major wars. Indeed, nuclear weapons are the only peace-promoting weapons that the world has ever known, and there is no reason to believe that things would be different if Iran acquired such arms.

 Read the full article at Foreign Affairs

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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