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  • 24 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 24, 2012

Investigation into Burgas Bomber Continues

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, speaking alongside White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan in Sofia, said the suicide bomber, who carried out an attack in Burgas last week, was part of a “sophisticated” group of conspirators, who arrived in Bulgaria one month before the attack. He declined to back Israeli claims that Iran or Hezollah played a role, but did say they knew “”when [the attacker] arrived, the presumed flight, and where it came from” (BBC 7/24).

Israeli President Says Israel in “Open War” with Iran

Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview with CNN that Israel is in an “open war” with Iran, following last week’s bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis. Peres insisted Israeli had “enough” intelligence to link Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to the attacks. He added, “self-defense is the right and the must of every people,” (Al Arabiya 7/23).

Thousands of Iranians Take to the Street to Protest Food Prices

Iranian news sources report that several thousand Iranians in the northeastern city of Neishapour protested rising prices on food staples in the city’s main square today. The protest was the first instance of unrest sparked by recent economic woes. Protesters allegedly chanted “Death to Inflation” and “Shame on you government, you must resign” (Wall Street Journal 7/23).

Iranian Reformists May Field Presidential Candidate in 2013

After being purged from the political scene in 2009, statements by Iranian reformists politicians suggest they may field a presidential candidate in 2013. Spokesman for the reformist National Trust Party, Esmail Gerami-Moghaddam, told Reuters, “If we enter the elections with a strong candidate, the government will be forced to respect people’s votes,” but he conceded that, “It’s true that even if we get the presidency we will not be able to do much,” (Reuters 7/23).

P5+1 Deputy Talks Conclude in Istanbul

Today in Istanbul Deputy Head of the EU’s foreign relations arm Helga Schmid and Iran’s deputy negotiator on the nuclear issue met today to discuss the nuclear standoff with Iran and the future of P5+1 talks with Iran. After the meeting, the EU’s spokesperson said “the next stage will be a contact between” chief negotiator for the P5+1, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili (Al-Monitor 7/24).

Sanctions Negatively Effecting Afghan Economy

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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