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

Iran News Roundup: July 26, 2012

Chairman of U.S. Intelligence Committee Blames Iran for Burgas Bombing

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers (R-MI), said he believes Iran was behind the recent suicide attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, making him the highest US official to place blame on Iran. He said, “I believe there were certainly elements of Hezbollah [involved] and I believe it was under the direction of their masters in Iran,” (The Hill 7/26).

Iranian UN Ambassador Accuses Israel of Plotting Burgas Bombing

Iran’s UN Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee accused Israel of plotting and exacting the suicide attack on a bus in Bulgas, Bulgaria last week, during a UN Security Council debate. Israel has accused Hezbollah and Iran for the attack. Khazaee said , “Such terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed implicating others for narrow political gains,” (Reuters 7/25).

Iranian Support for Syria “Unchangeable” Says Iranian VP

Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi has pledged “unchangeable” support for Syria, saying, “The Iranian people have an unchangeable stance on Syrians and will always stand by them,” reports Iranian news sources (Reuters 7/26).

Latest Round of P5+1 Talks with Iran “Positive”

Iranian media sources report Iranian deputy chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Baqheri, called his meeting with Helga Schmid, the EU foreign policy chief’s deputy, “positive. He said, “we managed to move forward with the talks within good frameworks and reach agreements on continuation of the work and future talks,” (Bloomberg 7/26).

Gulf Smugglers Among Those Hurting Under Sanctions

Each year approximately $5 billion worth of goods are smuggled into Iran, most by fishermen who cross the Strait of Hormuz at night to and from Oman, but sanctions are reportedly hurting the Iranian black market as well as the formal market, according to Bloomberg. Illegal imports of high-demand goods like Nike shoes, perfumes, cigarettes, and cell phones is becoming more expensive and risky with threats of increased government crackdowns and inflation (Bloomberg 7/26).

US Congress to Consider New  Sanctions Package Against Iranian Oil

Members of the U.S. Congress are trying pass a more expansive sanctions package to further restrict Iran’s oil revenues before Congress breaks for an August recess next week. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of sanctions on Wednesday, “It’s a critical tool to help stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program and ensuring the security of our ally, the state of Israel.” (Reuters 7/25).

Israeli Defense Minister Says Powers Should Speed Efforts to Halt Iran’s Nuclear Program

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday that global power should speed up efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. He said, “This is the time for the entire world to ready for united action, united goal in political desire in order to put a swift and definite stop to the Iranian nuclear project,” (Reuters 7/26).

Dubai Concerned Over Influence of Iran, Muslim Brotherhood South of Gulf

Dubai’s chief of police, Dahi Khalfan,  has warned of an “international plot” to overthrown Gulf state governments. Khalfan told reporters, “”There’s an international plot against Gulf states in particular and Arab countries in general…This is preplanned to take over our fortunes,” warning of the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran in the Persian Gulf (Reuters 7/26).

Iran Offers BA in Judiciary Aid Work to Administer Overcrowded Jails

In order to administer Iran’s 220,000 inmates often held in severely overcrowded jails, educational reform in Iran means that a four-year BA in “Judiciary Aid Work” will be offered this fall at two Iranian colleges. This new program is part of wider educational reform in Iran advocated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah, which includes discontinuing the expansion of social sciences “founded on materialism” including women’s studies, journalism, and human rights (The Telegraph  7/25).


Notable Opinion: “How ‘Confirmation Bias’ Can Lead to War”

Robert Wright discusses the importance of words on the brink of war:

Last week Commentary reported that Iranian President Ahmadinejad had been “bragging about the slaughter of five Israeli tourists” in Bulgaria and that this bragging “contradicted” the Iranian government’s denials of involvement in the Bulgarian bus bombing.

Commentary had gotten this information from The Times of Israel, which reported that Ahmadinejad had “gloated publicly on Thursday over the deaths of Israelis in a terror bombing in Bulgaria, and hinted that Iran was responsible for the attack.” The Times of Israel in turn attributed this information to a report in Hebrew on Israel’s Channel 2.

Somewhere in this Persian-to-Hebrew-to-English translation, something got lost–or added. Iran may or may not be behind the Bulgarian bombing, but there’s no reference to the bombing in Ahmadinejad’s speech, and a close appraisal of the speech makes it highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad meant to allude to the bombing. Nima Shirazi, the blogger who first raised doubts about the Israeli interpretation of Ahmadinejad’s remarks, calls the distortion “propaganda.” But what seems to me more likely–and, in a way, more unsettling–is that the distortion wasn’t intentional, but rather was the result of an essentially unconscious warping that comes naturally to humans.

Read the full article at The Atlantic

Posted By Jessica Schieder

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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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