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Posts Tagged ‘ Incidents at sea ’

  • 21 July 2012
  • Posted By Roshan Alemi
  • Diplomacy, US-Iran War

A Wakeup Call in the Persian Gulf

USNS Rappahannock, right, with the USS James E. Williams

USNS Rappahannock, right, with the USS James E. Williams

Earlier this week, many in Washington held their breath after the U.S. Navy announced that the USNS Rappahannock had resorted to “lethal force” and fired on a small vessel in the Persian Gulf that had rapidly approached the U.S. ship.  Although we subsequently learned that it was Indian fishermen – not Iranian sailors – who had been shot, the incident illustrates just how dangerous the situation in the Persian Gulf really is.

What would have happened if the fishing boat had in fact been an Iranian naval vessel? Could the incident have escalated into armed conflict? It’s not hard to imagine a dangerous escalation when the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations has no way of communicating with his Iranian counterpart.

The U.S. has managed to convey messages to Iran in a number of ways – from working through the Swiss to sending letters through the Turkish prime minister.  But the reality is that sending letters by courier is utterly insufficient when people are shooting at each other.

It is shocking that, in a time of crisis, the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations cannot pick up the phone and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control by talking to Iran’s naval commanders.  Given the tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the close proximity of U.S. and Iranian vessels operating in the Persian Gulf every day, it is downright dangerous that we do not have such a simple capability.

  • 23 April 2009
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, Legislative Agenda, Persian Gulf, US-Iran War

Congress weighing options on Iran

As President Obama’s plan for diplomacy with Iran takes shape, members of Congress are considering whether to move beyond the previous strategy of sanctions and coercion in favor of more constructive dialogue.

The bipartisan resolution calling for an “incidents-at-sea agreement” with Iran is steadily gaining support among lawmakers, many of whom see it as a way to contribute positively to the administration’s efforts for engagement.  According to a letter circulating around Capitol Hill, H.Con.Res. 94 will serve as “an important first step towards improving the security situation in the Persian Gulf and keeping our men and women in uniform safe.”

Have you contacted your member of Congress yet to support this important resolution? Your representative needs to hear from you today!

Despite meaningful progress so far, there are still a number of lawmakers committed to pursuing the same failed policies of the past: sanctions, threats, and isolation.  For thirty years, the United States has tried to squeeze Iran, with little or nothing to show for it.  But that isn’t stopping a group of lawmakers from introducing H.R. 1985, the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act.

This new sanctions bill rehashes the same argument that failed last summer, when Congress tried to impose a blockade of Iran’s gasoline imports.  The new measure would impose penalties on any person or company that assists Iran’s refined petroleum industry, and would encourage foreign governments and foreign companies to boycott Iran’s energy sector.

With the backing of some of the most powerful interest groups in the country, this new sanctions bill has already gained 24 cosponsors.  Your members need to hear from you: Should Congress keep trying the same old measures that have failed for thirty years?  Or should they work for a real diplomatic solution to the Iran issue?

Tell Congress today to support effective engagement with Iran, not the same failed policies of yesteryear.  Encourage your representative to cosponsor the Incidents-at-Sea Resolution today!

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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