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Part 1: Assessing the Baghdad Nuclear Talks

Last week, the P5+1 met with Iranian officials in Baghdad to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. While many questions were left unanswered, the one known fact is that there will be another round of negotiations on June 18th and 19th in Moscow.  Listen to a NIAC policy panel hosted last week in DC on the nuclear talks in Baghdad. The panel features top experts and former U.S officials including PJ Crowley (Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs), Bijan Khajehpour (Iranian Political and Economic Analyst and Chairman of Atieh International), Aaron David Miller (Distinguished Scholar at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars), George Perkovich (Director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and moderated by NIAC’s very own, Trita Parsi.

Listen to Part 1 of NIAC’s panel discussion on the Baghdad nuclear talks.

Play

Iran at a Crossroads – LIVESTREAMING Here

UPDATE: It’s confirmed, we’ll be Livestreaming our conference here at niacINsight tomorrow.  So tune in between 9:00 and 2:00 to see what’s happening!

Iran used to be a pretty black-and-white issue. You either wanted war, or not.  Diplomacy, or not.  Regime change, or not.

Those days of simple choices between two clear opposites–they’re long gone.

Now, the rise of an indigenous opposition movement has thrown a new set of variables into questions of “regime change,” diplomacy, and even human rights.  Iran-watchers are struggling with the cognitive dissonance of it all: how can you still oppose war but support the dismantling of the Islamic theocracy?  How can someone help the opposition but still oppose overt US government involvement? And don’t even get me started on the nuclear issue…

All of this confusion amid the new complex reality of post-June 12th Iran means it’s probably a good thing that people are still debating the issue as vigorously as ever.  Open any major newspaper in the US and chances are you’ll find at least one or two (often four or five) different articles about Iran.  From op-eds advocating a preemptive strike, to analysts who say the Green Movement is just a fad–there is a wider diversity of opinions now than ever before.  Even politicians and pundits who might otherwise have the luxury of ignoring the Iran issue are being forced to weigh in (see Palin, Sarah), and despite their often ludicrous claims, ultimately the best thing for US-Iran policy is a robust debate about substantive issues.  That’s the only way we’ll be able to think our way through this difficult challenge.

(Incidentally, some major steps have already been taken in formulating a coherent policy proposal: see here and here for one approach that’s coming clearer into view).

Our goal here at NIAC is to contribute some wisdom and clarity to the debate on Iran — both among the Iranian-American community and inside the Washington DC beltway.  Toward that end, we are pleased to announce our upcoming conference on Capitol Hill: “Iran at a Crossroads: Assessing a Changing Landscape.” We’re bringing together the top Iran experts in the world, alongside members of Congress and their staffs, to explore the most important questions facing US-Iran policy today.

We’ll look into the current state of the Green Movement as the latest chapter in Iran’s 100-year democratic evolution.  We’ll examine the prospects for US-Iran relations one year after President Obama began his engagement strategy, and we’ll try to determine if there is a US-Iran war looming on the horizon.  (And we’ll also celebrate the upcoming Norooz holiday with some excellent food and our very own haft-seen table).

The video will be streamed live on this site, niacINsight, so check back here next Wednesday morning (March 10) at 9am for the feed.  Or feel free to RSVP and show up in person.

We are grateful to our special guests Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with all of our excellent panelists (including our friends at EA).

Full info available below the jump, or at niacouncil.org/march10.  Hope to see you there!

The US & Iran: Between Human Rights, Diplomacy & Sanctions

The National Iranian American Council is pleased to announce we will be having a policy conference on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 in Dirksen Senate Office Building G-50.

The conference will run from 9 AM to 12.30 PM and will feature two panels; the first will assess the human rights and political situation in Iran and the second will assess President Obama’s diplomacy.

For more information, please visit www.niacouncil.org/nov4. To RSVP, please send an email with your name, title and organization (if any) to rsvp at niacouncil.org.

Do you know your neighbor?

Last night, NIAC held an informal meet and greet where members of the community were welcomed to come by to meet NIAC staff and ask questions and discuss any issues on their mind.  Between the hours of 7-9 pm, Iranian-American Denver residents dropped in at their own convenience to say hello and talk politics.

During the meeting I was amazed to find out that there are approximately 4,000 to 10,000 Iranians in Colorado!  The large difference in the numbers is mainly due to a lack of accurate data since the last census was taken.  The 2000 U.S. Census places the overall Iranian number far lower than what is commonly predicted and Iranians are constantly growing in numbers. Hence, speculation often tends to range from the very low to the very high.

My amazement at the discovery of the numbers in Colorado came at the fact that we don’t know we exist!  We all know about Tehrangeles and New York and some other key locations Iranian Americans have chosen to migrate to, but we’re not too sure about our own neighbors.

Regardless, I am impressed by the large numbers and the apparent vibrant community here.  The individuals that we had an opportunity to meet with are well informed and very much aware of the political environment.  All in all, our informal event was well received and well attended.  Thanks to all of those who chose to take an hour or two of their evening to join us for an informal chit chat session!

‘The Folly of Attacking Iran’

This video was created by justforeignpolicy.org as part of All the Shah’s Men author Stephen Kinzer’s ‘The Folly of Attacking Iran: Time for Real Diplomacy’ tour, and was co-sponsored by 30 coalition partners, including NIAC. Though it was produced in February, it maintains relevancy as Congress continues to debate Iran policy. The video includes commentary by Iran expert Barbara Slavin, retired Lt. Gen. Robert Gard and NIAC President Dr. Trita Parsi.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJRcOF7rEfQ]

NIAC Conference: Breaking the US-Iran Stalemate

When it comes to Iran, President Bush has all but banged the drums of war. In fact, when faced with the question of Iran’s nuclear file, it’s been talk of sanctions or war, but nothing else – even though sanctions have gotten us nowhere.

On April 8, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) will host foreign policy A-listers, Congressional members and staff, key academics and accredited media to discuss another option on Capitol Hill: a multinational enrichment facility inside Iran, coupled with direct and comprehensive talks with Tehran.

Most analysts agree: Iran’s nuclear program is progressing faster than the West can muster pressure on Tehran. NIAC’s conference will address the central question:

How can the US prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, even if Tehran continues to enrich uranium?

Feinstein

In addition, speakers – who will include former Under-Secretary of State Thomas Pickering, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Hans Blix, and reporters Barbara Slavin (USA Today) and Scott Peterson (Christian Science Monitor) – will explore how the new Majles, now overrun with conservatives, will affect the direction of Iran’s foreign policy and nuclear goals.

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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