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Posts Tagged ‘ Hillary Mann Leverett Iran ’

  • 29 October 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Nuclear file, Sanctions

Confidence is key


Hillary Mann Leverett–fresh off her dynamite appearance alongside Trita at the J Street Conference’s Iran panel–has an article in today’s Foreign Policy magazine online in which she argues that the delay over Iran’s decision to ship its uranium stockpile out of the country stems from the inherent mistrust that has plagued US-Iran relations for decades.  This, more than any internal political divisions in the post-election atmosphere, accounts for the IRI’s waffling back and forth over the proposal.

If the Iranian leadership believes that the United States is interested in a fundamental realignment of U.S.-Iranian relations and is prepared to live with the Islamic Republic as it stands, a consensus in favor of the reactor fuel deal could be forged in Tehran. …But I am skeptical that the United States has provided the security guarantees that would be needed to assuage Iranian concerns about Washington’s ultimate intentions.

Iran’s official response to the proposed nuclear deal is expected today (the LA Times notes Ahmadinejad’s speech this morning which skirts the issue somewhat but may be intended to soften the ground for Iran’s official acceptance of the deal), but like always it will be incredibly difficult to get a straight “yes” or “no” answer out of Tehran.  Most likely the response will involve some sort of a request for an amendment to the deal.

But this decision won’t be made in a vacuum–and here is where Hillary’s point is incredibly important.  The atmosphere between Iran and the West is rife with mistrust.  Recent diplomatic progress has helped rebuild some of that confidence, but both sides are still incredibly wary of the other.  This is why we’ve been so nervous about recent Congressional actions to approve tough sanctions this week.

In the already toxic atmosphere, the last thing the US needs to do is insert yet more doubt in our willingness to negotiate in good faith.  Sanctioning Iran while the talks are teetering on the edge of progress will send the signal to Iran that it doesn’t matter what concessions they make at the negotiating table–Congress will punish them anyway. Thus, they have no incentive to make concessions in the first place, since they’ll end up getting hurt either way.

That’s a recipe for talks to break down.

We can only hope that Tehran is tuning out the background noise coming from the US Congress long enough to accept the proposal.  Rebuilding trust after thirty years is going to take some leaps of faith–and they’ll most likely get harder before things get easier.


{PS I’d also like to note that Hillary Mann Leverett and Flynt Leverett–both renowned Iran experts–have started a fantastic new blog called The Race for Iran.  They have tons of great material up already, so click the link, bookmark it, and take a look!}

  • 23 January 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, MEK

Hillary Mann Leverett on Iran’s offer: bin Ladin son for MEK

Check out Hillary Mann Leverett’s extremely inciteful post over at the Washington Note about the Iran-Saad bin Ladin connection.

On Saturday, the New York Times and other media outlets reported on a statement from Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell that Saad bin Ladin, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, had left “house arrest” in Iran and is now in Pakistan.

McConnell’s statement underscores the message of my last post — that there have been real strategic costs imposed on U.S. interests by the Bush Administration’s brain dead approach to dealing with Iran. Moreover, the poor quality of the mainstream media’s reporting on McConnell’s statement reflects a distorted and by-now deeply ingrained view of what happened in our interactions with Iran about Al Qaida. If incoming President Obama and his administration are really serious about putting U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory, they must be prepared to challenge the misleading assumptions and assertions that warp public discussion of our Iran policy.

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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