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  • 25 November 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Events in Iran, Iranian American activism, Uncategorized

Taxi Revolution in Tehran

A women’s Taxi service in Tehran is providing much needed jobs for war widows and divorcees, according to the BBC. It began with about 10 taxis, and now boasts over 700 cabs handling 2,500 jobs a day. Some customers say that they feel more comfortable with a woman behind the wheel, while others think the company has filled a gap in the transportation industry.

While this may not be considered a victory for women’s rights, there are plenty of Middle Eastern countries where this would not be allowed and, as such, is a step forward for women in Iran.

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.751694&w=425&h=350&]

Former State Dept official echoes neocon oil argument

The continuing saga of the only new idea neoconservatives have had regarding Iran.  Though the blockade bill died in Congress, the idea of stopping oil exports to Iran continues…

Former State Department negotiator Orde Kittrie spoke on Thursday about viable alternatives for pursuing peace with Iran at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) where he is a visiting professor. “A US or Israeli military strike on Iran is bad idea and a nuclear Iran is a bad idea. We should attempt to persuade them peacefully” he said.

  • 30 October 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Diplomacy, Persian Gulf

Clearly Not a Carpet-Bazaar…

Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, unleashed a stinging rebuke in the Huffington Post yesterday to Thomas Friedman’s New York Times op-ed, calling the columnist’s conclusions “offensively colonialist and racist generalizations.”

The piece by Friedman was an explanation as to why he believes the next US president will have more leverage in dealing with Iran. Essentially, he said that the falling price of oil gives the US badly needed leverage over Iran. He drew largely on comments made by Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, characterizing negotiations with Iran as similar to bargain shopping in the bazaar. He quoted Sadjadpour saying, “there is never a price tag on any carpet. The dealer is not looking for a fixed price, but the highest price he can get — and the ‘Iran price’ is constantly fluctuating depending on the price of oil.”

  • 28 October 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

Just when things were looking up…

Iran has announced the opening of a new naval base just east of the Persian Gulf, strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil chokepoint.  The Iranian naval chief, Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, has said that this move was intended to “enable Iran to block the entry of an enemy into the Gulf.” Iran is now and has historically threatened to close the strait in the event of an attack by foreign powers.

These new developments come after biting remarks by an official in the Europe/US department in the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Wahid Karimi. He said that due to the increasing threats of an attack on Tehran by either the US or Israel, Iran should attack London as a preemptive measure. “The most appropriate means of deterrence that Iran has, in addition to a retaliatory operation in the [Gulf] region, is to take action against London,” said Karimi.

  • 15 October 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Diplomacy, Presidential 2008 Elections

Senator Lugar Breaks with McCain, Urges Diplomacy with Iran

“In some cases, even refusing to talk can be dangerous.” Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) said this today in a speech before the National Defense University in Indiana.

The call by Senator Lugar for more robust diplomatic overtures to Iran came after he joined with Senator Obama in opposing the conventional wisdom in Washington that “hostile nations must be dealt with almost exclusively through isolation or military force.”

Senator Lugar, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee seems to be creating a rift within his own party over Iran policy–one of the most divisive issues of the election. The senator has been described as a good friend of Senator McCain and one must wonder: are all the Republicans jumping on the maverick bandwagon?

Updated: Full Text available here.

  • 1 October 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Iranian American activism

Prominent Iranian American Testifies before Senate Committee

Washington, DC- “We have unearthed an anti-plaintiff effect that is troubling,” said Cyrus Mehri in testimony last Tuesday before a Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Barriers to Justice: Examining Equal Pay for Equal Work.” The hearing dealt with different dimensions of federal court discrimination against employee filed lawsuits. Mehri is on the Board of Advisors at NIAC and a founding partner of the law firm Mehri & Skalet, PLLC.

  • 16 September 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Presidential 2008 Elections

What Do We Have to Look Forward to?

With the presidential election only 7 weeks away it appears to be a good time to ask: What changes on Iran policy do we have to look forward to respectively with each of the candidates and their running mates?

  • 12 September 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Events in Iran

Earthquake in Iran 6 on the Richter Scale

Iran was hit by an earthquake of a 6.1 magnitude on the Richter scale this Wednesday. Authorities in Iran said that 5 people were killed and 45 injured. The majority of those affected by the earthquake were Qeshm villagers and port workers in the area. A state news agency claims that over 100,000 lost power in the villages of Qeshm. Disaster relief teams have already begun investigating the damage and providing relief.

  • 11 September 2008
  • Posted By Rebecca Schiel
  • Events in DC, US-Iran War

Rethinking the Message We’re Sending

“The ideology behind 9/11 has become mainstream in much of the Middle East” said Jim Sciutto, author of Against Us: The New Face of America’s Enemies in the Muslim World. Jim Sciutto in his first public appearance since the books publishing was hosted by David Gray from the New America Foundation yesterday.

The book profiled eight people from various Middle Eastern countries throughout the last seven years, analyzing the roots of their negative views of US foreign policy; the war in Iraq, the Afghan invasion, US support for Israel, and foreigners in Muslim lands. “You hear the same buzz words, same manifesto, and same rhetoric…What you heard from Jihadists [in the past], you now hear from people on the street.”

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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