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  • 10 August 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • Events in Iran

Iran Purges Intelligence Ministry Officials

AP has an story about a shakeup in the Intelligence Ministry being instigated by Ahmadinejad. Notably, he is getting push-back from other conservatives, many of whom are still upset about his appointment of Mashaei and temporary refusal to dismiss him.

TEHRAN, Iran — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired at least four senior Intelligence Ministry figures in a purge targeting officials who disagreed with the crackdown on the opposition after the disputed presidential election, lawmakers and media said Monday.

The purge deepens a rift between Ahmadinejad and critics within his own conservative camp and also reveals splits within the security establishment itself over the heavyhanded suppression of the pro-reform opposition since the June 12 election. […]

The Intelligence Ministry purge was reportedly sparked by the refusal of some top officials to back the government’s claims that the wave of postelection protests were part of an opposition “velvet revolution” aimed at overthrowing the clerical leadership. Some in the ministry had reportedly opposed broadcasting confessions by detainees that the opposition says were obtained by abuse.

Pro-reform Web sites reported that more than a dozen senior ministry officials were fired or forced to resign in the past few weeks, but the total number remained unclear.

Conservative and pro-reform media identified four deputy ministers who were removed – including the head of counterespionage and a 25-year veteran, both of whom were “trusted” by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to one conservative Web site Khabaronline.

The purge appeared to reflect tensions between the ministry and the elite Revolutionary Guard, which has been the main force behind the wave of arrests. The dismissals, ordered by Ahmadinejad and a deputy he appointed at the ministry, were supervised by two hard-line clerics, Hossein Taeb and Ahmad Salek, who are strong backers of Ahmadinejad and hold key positions within the Guard, according to Hasan Younesi, son of a former intelligence minister.

“Ahmadinejad has effectively taken command of the country’s most important security body and is settling scores,” said Younesi, whose father Ali Younesi served as minister during the 1997-2005 pro-reform administration. Both father and son maintain close links with the intelligence community.

Younesi said the dismissals targeted officials who did not support the government’s claims of a “velvet revolution” plot.

Ahmad Avai, a conservative lawmaker, said parliament was considering a probe into the dismissals.

“There is justified concern … if this trend continues, irreparable damage will be inflicted on the Intelligence Ministry,” Avai said, according to the hard-line daily Jomhuri-e-Eslami on Monday.

The ministry put out a statement Monday saying “some incorrect reports” have been made in the media, referring to the reports of dismissals, but did not elaborate. It warned that media publishing the names of ministry officials could be prosecuted.

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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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