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  • 20 January 2011
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, US-Iran War

Leading Diplomats, Experts and Organizations Call on Obama to Reinvigorate Diplomacy with Iran

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phil Elwood
Phone: 202-423-7957
Email: phile@brownlloydjames.com

Washington, DC – On the eve of talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Istanbul, a diverse group of diplomats, arms control experts, Iran experts, democracy and human rights defenders, and leading Iranian-American, Jewish-American, and pro-peace organizations issued a statement urging the Obama Administration to reinvigorate diplomacy with Iran.

The experts include Ambassador John Limbert, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran; Sir Richard Dalton, the former British Ambassador to Iran; Bruno Pellaud, the former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Gary Sick, who served at the NSC as the principal White House adviser on Iran; and Chas Freeman, the former American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Full text of the statement:

January 20, 2011

As the United States prepares for the upcoming round of multilateral talks with Iran, it is imperative that the Obama Administration reinvigorate its diplomacy by pursuing engagement with Tehran more persistently, setting realistic objectives, and broadening the US-Iranian dialogue.  Diplomacy is the only sustainable means of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, avoiding the dangerous folly of military confrontation in the Middle East, and enabling progress in other critical areas of US interest, such as Afghanistan and the human rights situation within Iran.

Reinvigorating diplomacy means seeking to engage Iran more persistently.  The upcoming Istanbul meeting is only the fourth meeting on the nuclear issue involving both the United States and Iran, and no breakthrough can be expected without additional talks. Fortunately, time exists to pursue a diplomatic solution.  Both US and Israeli officials have made public statements recently acknowledging that Iran remains years away from having the capability to construct a nuclear weapon.

Reinvigorating diplomacy also means pursuing realistic objectives. Unrealistic outcomes, such as insisting that Iran cease uranium enrichment entirely, however desirable, must be set aside.  Focus should instead be placed on establishing monitoring and verification mechanisms that can ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is, indeed, used solely for peaceful purposes.  Secretary Clinton stated in December that the United States would be prepared to recognize a peaceful enrichment program on Iranian soil.  This is a productive step to achieve a satisfactory compromise for which the Administration should be commended.

Finally, reinvigorating diplomacy means addressing issues with Iran beyond the nuclear file. Tehran presents challenges and opportunities in many other areas of importance to US national security, including the stability of Afghanistan and Iraq, drug trafficking, and the human rights situation in Iran itself.  The US should seek common ground in all areas of interest and not hold progress in one area hostage to resolution of others.  Indeed, progress on human rights or Afghanistan may create a better climate for progress on the nuclear issue. The US engagement agenda must be expanded to reflect this.

Diplomacy with Iran will not be easy and no quick fixes should be expected. Iran must also negotiate in earnest and make the serious compromises necessary for resolution of the nuclear issue.  The concerns of the IAEA, the P5+1, and the international community more broadly must be addressed by Iran on the basis of transparency and cooperation.  Resolving decades of enmity between the US and Iran will require that both sides work to create openings for successful engagement.

Only reinvigorated diplomacy holds the promise of bridging the many divides between the US and Iran and achieving a sustainable solution that prevents a disastrous military confrontation, prevents an Iranian bomb and the additional proliferation that would follow, and protects the human rights of the Iranian people.

Signed,

Barry Blechman, co-founder, the Stimson Center
Professor Juan Cole, University of Michigan
Sir Richard Dalton, Associate Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Royal Institute of International Affairs, London; Former British Ambassador to Iran
Debra DeLee, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now
Jonathan W. Evans, Legislative Representative for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Professor Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii
Chas W. Freeman, Jr., former Assistant Secretary of Defense, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and President, Middle East Policy Council
Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, Jr., (USA, Ret.) Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Col. Sam Gardiner, United States Air Force, Retired
Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
Amb. John Limbert, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Firuzeh Mahmoudi, Executive Director, United4Iran
Paul Kawika Martin, Policy Director, Peace Action
Stephen McInerney, Executive Director, Project on Middle East Democracy
Robert Naiman, Executive Director, Just Foreign Policy
Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
Bruno Pellaud, Former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
Professor Paul Pillar, Georgetown University
John Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action West
Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach, Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Professor Gary Sick, Columbia University
Professor John Tirman, Executive Director and Principal Research Scientist, MIT Center for International Studies

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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