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  • 2 December 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, NIAC round-up, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Iran News Roundup 12/2

Senate passes sanctions on Iran’s central bank
The Senate voted 100-0 yesterday to include the Kirk-Menendez amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that would force the President to sanction Iran’s central bank, with some limited exceptions (NIAC 12/1).  The broader bill was passed by the Senate, but the President has threatened to veto it due to concerns about provisions regarding detention of American citizens linked to terrorism (Washington Post 12/1).

Before the vote,  the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hosted Administration officials at a hearing in which they strongly warned against the proposed Iran amendment.  Josh Rogin wrote in Foreign Policy’s The Cable, after being told by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman and Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen that the Kirk-Menendez amendment was going to be counterproductive to U.S. policy objectives, that Sen. Robert Menendez was “livid” (Foreign Policy 12/2).

The National Iranian American Council released a press release yesterday criticizing the passing of the Kirk Menendez amendment, stating “The Senate ignored warnings of dire economic consequences for America and its allies, and of disastrous humanitarian consequences for the people of Iran.  On all sides, there appears to only be the political will to escalate, with utter disregard for the ramifications.” (NIAC 12/1).

Iran war watch
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who recently said that Israel is not currently planning to attack Iran, posited that a military strike may become the only option for dealing with Iran (Huffington Post 12/1).  Meanwhile, Yossi Melman says that the sabotage, mysterious explosions and assassinations of nuclear scientists signify that “war with Iran has already begun” (Haaretz 12/2).  Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan says that an “Israeli attack on Iran must be stopped to avert catastrophe” (Haaretz 12/1).

David Miliband and Nader Mousavizadeh argued in an op-ed that a war with Iran would be exceedingly destructive, and as such the international community needs to make a serious push for diplomacy to prevent “sleepwalking into war” (Financial Times 12/2).  In contrast, Iraq War advocate Max Boot writes in the LA Times that the only way to prevent a nuclear armed Iran is through military strikes, even though he acknowledges that such strikes would only temporarily delay Iran’s nuclear program (LA Times 12/1).

EU sanctions update
The Financial Times reports that “Italy, Spain and Greece – the biggest buyers of Iranian oil in Europe–had dropped their opposition to an [oil] embargo but had asked for time to find alternative supplies” (Financial Times 12/2).  Energy market analysts meanwhile are concerned that Iran could preempt such a move by implementing an oil embargo against Europe now–when energy use is at its peak–before Europe imposes its own embargo early next year when they can better mitigate the loss of Iranian supplies.  The article explains that this could be problematic for Europe because they would not have the time they need to find replacement sources for the Iranian oil it currently imports (Financial Times 12/2).

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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