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  • 9 March 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 3 Comments
  • Neo-Con Agenda, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Putting pro-people lipstick on a pro-war pig

Neoconservatives behind the propaganda film Iranium continue to mask their pro-war, pro-sanctions agenda as being somehow supportive of the people of Iran.  The producers of the film, which has been criticized as “using the struggle of the Iranian people to push for their war-agenda,” recently released a clip arguing that Iranians need communications technology in order to foment a “new revolution” in Iran.

Problem is, the Iranium crowd and its supporters have worked ardently to expand sanctions and help ensure that Iranians cannot freely access this very technology.  The clip in question tellingly links to a petition to “support the Iranian people” but which actually focuses on the Iranian nuclear issue and calls only for “stronger sanctions.”  Some support.

Iranium, in fact, spends much time bemoaning the fact that ordinary Iranians are able to obtain limited consumer technology through the black market in spite of sanctions. In one of the film’s scenes, two young Iranian boys play a videogame system at shopping mall while former CIA Director James Woolsey argues that Iran sanctions should be “crippling” in order to cut off such goods.  Accordingly, he says, only “food, pharmaceuticals, and bare necessities” should be allowed in Iran.

This might explain why Iranium ignores the fact that US sanctions make it illegal for even the most basic American software or technology to be available to ordinary Iranians, other than through the black market.  Thankfully, due in part to efforts by NIAC following the June 2009 elections, the US Department of State recognized this counterproductive policy and issued an exemption from sanctions for free Internet communication software.

But despite this positive step, it still remains illegal to send most software, anti-filtering tools, modems, servers, and satellite dishes to Iranians without first getting a special US government license.  In fact, it wasn’t until January 2011—over a year and a half after Iran’s post-election protests and nine months after State issued the sanctions exemption—that Google finally was able to make certain basic software like Google Chrome available in Iran after finally obtaining a US government license.

If the Iranium crowd actually wants to help, they would encourage that sanctions be reformed to not help the Iranian government stifle communication and to allow for software and technology to be freely available to Iranians.  But this is not part of the pro-war agenda.   Instead, they continue to argue for even more broad, untargeted sanctions while claiming to stand with the very Iranian people they are helping disconnect.

Leverage Through Sanctions Not a Long-Term Strategy

Last week, the U.S took a page out of its well-worn foreign policy playbook and imposed new sanctions on North Korea. The similarities between the U.S approach to North Korea and Iran are striking, centering on a strategy of sanctions, isolation, and containment.

It can be argued that the U.S has had more success isolating North Korea — though a lot of the responsibility for that also lies with Kim Jong Il (something the hardliners in Tehran should be aware of).  But there is one crucial difference in trying to apply this same model of containment and isolation to Iran, and that is Tehran’s indispensable geostrategic importance.

The Persian Gulf is and will continue to be perhaps the most vital region in the world. Iran is the world’s fourth largest oil producer, thereby providing the government substantial oil revenue, and giving them a key opportunity to ensure that sanctions never fully seal off the country’s economy, as there will also be a buyer for Iranian oil.

For that and other reasons, a policy that depends on isolation and  containment as the sole approach for dealing with Iran is doomed to fail.

By looking into the history of sanctions imposed on Iran, and by spending time in Iran, it’s not difficult to realize that sanctions are not as persuasive as many in Washington might like to believe. Under nearly three decades of sanctions, Iran went from having no enrichment capacity, to creating an indigenous reactor and installing more than 8000 centrifuges. Three rounds of international sanctions did not stymie their efforts to build the planned enrichment facility in Qom. Sanctions did not impede the IRGC’s ballistic missile program that is continually evolving.

Washington’s motto: “Leverage through Sanctions” clearly isn’t working — and it’s not because we haven’t made sanctions “crippling” enough.  It’s because Iran refuses to be bludgeoned into submission.  If a country like Iran faces a choice between economic hardship and absolute humiliation, it’s likely to choose hardship every time.  But if given a chance to save face, it’s very likely that Iran will play ball.  Diplomatic engagement offers a better way forward than sanctions ever will, precisely because diplomacy offers a chance to convey privately all of the ways Iran stands to gain by acceding to the demands of the international community.  It will be a give and take, with concessions on both sides, but it offers a much greater chance of success than sanctions, pressure, and bullying.

What’s more, a diplomatic solution offers a long-term strategy, while sanctions — even if successful — only offer a short-term change of behavior.  Think about it: if the US can make sanctions so painful that Iran gives up its nuclear program, isn’t it likely that future generations will resent that outside pressure being forced upon their country?  Throughout history, this pattern of behavior has given rise to nationalist movements that produce greater degrees of instability in the long run than the original conflict ever would have.

Alternatively, negotiated settlements offer the chance of a win-win, with no loss of national prestige and possibly even a net benefit for the country overall.

  • 22 July 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 7 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file

The Uranium Core of Obama’s Iran Strategy

This post originally appeared at Talking Warheads:

In dismissing the Tehran Declaration in May, US officials said the fuel swap proposal doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. The core issue, according to four UN Security Council resolutions and two successive US administrations, is Iran’s enrichment program.

That’s why Uranium Intelligence Weekly thought it noteworthy to point out some recent changes in the US National Security Strategy that seem to indicate the Obama Administration might drop its zero enrichment redline on Iran.

Despite UN Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to suspend enrichment, it’s probable that at some point the P5+1 negotiators (US, Britain, France, Russia, China plus Germany) will have to consider the unthinkable — allowing Iranian enrichment activities to continue. Intriguingly, a shift in the most recent May 2010 NSS, while open to a variety of interpretations, is seen by some as tacitly recognizing that fact, suggesting scope for an eventual shift on the issue — assuming Iran meets international demands to come clean about its nuclear program and adheres to the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol.

Jeffrey Lewis is intrigued, though mistakenly called the US demand a precondition for talks.  It’s not.  Dropping that precondition and going ahead with direct talks (albeit few and far between) was Obama’s first policy major shift.  The next step will be to make some move toward accepting Iran’s right to civilian applications of the nuclear fuel cycle.

Most Iran experts see this as a no-brainer.  But arms control people are less willing to blow open the loophole in the NPT that allows countries like Iran to produce fissile material under cover of a civilian program.  So it’s a squabble that keeps the progressive community divided, clearing the way for the hawks and ideologues to sell their simple and concise narrative of “bombs away.”

It’s important that those groups not looking to go to war develop a clear idea of what needs to happen next.  Fortunately, there have been some good discussions in recent weeks among NGOs about exactly that sort of thing.  There’s a consensus emerging that could serve as something of a road map for American negotiators.

Solving the Nuclear Issue in 3 Easy Steps

Now that newly-imposed sanctions have taken some of the pressure off, the Administration needs a renewed commitment to diplomacy.  That means face time with Iranian negotiators — no more negotiating through the press.  It also requires effective partners, building on the progress that Turkey and Brazil gained in May to break down or at least circumvent some of the mistrust that poses such an obstacle.  A plan is already underway for yet another revival of the zombie fuel swap in August, using Turkey as an effective mediator.  Assuming a deal is finally reached to send some uranium out of Iran, both sides can finally declare victory on a confidence-building measure that wraps up outstanding concerns regarding 20% enrichment and the size of Iran’s stockpile of LEU.

Then comes the hard part: the enrichment program itself.

The US has to compromise on its demand of zero centrifuges in Iran.  But it likely won’t lay down its trump card at the beginning of negotiations.  So the goal will be to get Iran to agree to a suspension in line with UNSC resolutions and similar to the suspension it began in November of 2004.  [A suspension; not a halt — demonstrating that a suspension is by definition temporary will be key.]  That will be the objective: trading an acceptance of Iran’s right to maintain an enrichment program for a temporary suspension and reasonable limitations once the program is restarted.

Getting Iran to agree to a suspension, I believe, will be the biggest challenge of all.  They’ve gone down that road before, agreeing to a full suspension in 2004 only to resume it two years later.  The task for the P5+1 will be to convince the Iranians that it will be different this time.  The US will be at the table — a key difference from before — but will still depend on credible partners like Turkey to convey its good intentions. In short, we’re going to have to trust one another.

After that, all that’s left is gaining Iran’s accession to the Additional Protocol and/or other mechanisms for verifying the absence of a weapons program.  Iran’s ratification of the CTBT would be a nice bonus, as it’s a prerequisite for the treaty’s entering into force, and such a gesture would be a sign of Iran’s commitment not to develop bombs.  In exchange for all of this, the international community would have to welcome Iran back into the fold, removing sanctions and reintegrating Tehran into the economic, political and security establishment of the region.

So that’s it.  Not too hard, right?

  • 7 July 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • 1 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

UAE Ambassador speaks before he thinks

“’We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. The United States may be able to live with it, we can’t.”

On Tuesday, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, publicly endorsed military action against Iran if sanctions fail to stop its nuclear program. That’s a bold statement coming from neighboring  Muslim country, and more importantly, a neighbor that conducts $12 billion in trade with Iran.

“I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,” al-Otaiba said in a public interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what.”

What was al-Otaiba thinking when he made that statement? Apparently, his remarks stem from his own personal opinions as the statement was promptly walked back by other UAE officials. Immediately after the statements were made, the UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tareq Al-Haidan said “the statements attributed by the Washington Times to the UAE Ambassador to the United States Youssef Al-Otaiba are not precise.” In addition, Al-Haiden said:

“The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means that are based on the international legitimacy, transparency as well as the need for working, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

The use of force is not the solution, and I am glad that Al-Haidan realizes that. As a diplomat, you cannot just say whatever is on your mind, though . Even discussions held “on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering” will be leaked one way or another, putting diplomatic relations at risk.

  • 6 July 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 1 Comments
  • Nuclear file, Sanctions

(Re)Fueling Resentment

Airports in the UK, Germany, Kuwait, the UAE and elsewhere are refusing to refuel Iranian passenger planes, citing recently-passed US sanctions on petroleum sales to Iran.

Under the new law, sanctions are triggered once an entity provides one million dollars worth of refined petroleum to Iran, or five million dollars worth in the course of one year.  It’s fair to assume that BP’s contracts with major airports like Heathrow pass that monetary threshold, though BP officials won’t discuss specific contracts.

In discussions over the past two years on Capitol Hill, I’ve never once heard this cited as an intended consequence of the gasoline embargo.  In fact, US unilateral sanctions have come under fire in years past for putting unnecessary strain on Iran’s aging passenger fleet, and indirectly contributing to catastrophic plane crashes.  That is why OFAC has issued specific directives for licensing civilian aircraft parts for export.

This most recent development is yet another in the long history of unintended consequences of US sanctions harming innocent Iranians — and it puts the lie to the public statements from members of Congress and the administration that the sanctions are intended to target the ruling hardliners, not the Iranian people.

UN Sanctions Vote Expected Wednesday

Via Laura Rozen, the United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a new round of Iran sanctions Wednesday.

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a new Iran sanctions resolution on Wednesday, two diplomatic sources have told POLITICO.

“The goal is Wednesday,” one European diplomat said of the anticipated vote date.

“Vote is likely Wednesday,” another diplomatic source in New York said.

The UN vote, which is likely to pass 12-3 with Turkey, Brazil and Lebanon voting nay, is expected to have two major impacts.  The first will be to take the pressure off of the Congressional sanctions push.

Congress, which has been finalizing legislation sanctions Iran’s petroleum imports for weeks, had up until recently written off the UN process as weak and ineffectual.  But recently, Democratic leaders have slowed things down to give the UN time to approve its own measure, which the Obama Administration insists will serve as a useful “legal platform” for further sanctions that individual countries agree to impose.

Now that the UN is planning to go ahead with its resolution, Congress might become more open to some of the Administration’s requests for changes in the final version of the bill (many of which echoed NIAC’s own suggested changes to the legislation).

The second thing that is sure to be effected by UN action is the proposed fuel swap deal negotiated by Brazil and Turkey. But it’s difficult to say what that impact will be: either the deal continues ahead, or (perhaps more likely) it could be blown to bits.

As a group of prominent nonproliferation and Iran experts have said, the nuclear fuel swap — while inadequate in the eyes of some — is a worthwhile diplomatic opening that the US would do well to exploit.  But it’s hard to tell at this moment whether Iran will live up to its promise of walking away from any deal following a new sanctions resolution.  Prominent lawmaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar said last week:

If (the West) issues a new resolution against Iran, we will not be committed to Tehran’s statement and dispatching fuel outside Iran will be canceled.

So there’s a lot at stake here, and it all hinges on how Iran reacts to the upcoming sanctions vote.  For the US, that will mean either Obama runs the table — passing new sanctions in the UN and Congress, removing one bomb’s worth of nuclear material from Iran, and possibly even kick-starting comprehensive negotiations over important issues like human rights and the nuclear issue; or new sanctions that no one thinks will actually change Iran’s behavior.

  • 4 June 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Amoei
  • 1 Comments
  • Israel, Nuclear file, Sanctions

The Real Winner of the Flotilla Raid

Israel’s attack on the aid flotilla headed toward Gaza has sparked international outrage. But it also reminds us that since 2001, Iran has improved its geostrategic position more than almost any other country in the world, and it has done so based almost entirely on the blunders of others.

Just as scholars have for years declared Iran to be the ultimate winner of the US war in Iraq, the winner of this week’s events off the coast of Gaza is clearly Iran.

In a meeting Tuesday between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the topic of discussion was supposed to be imposing a new round of sanctions on Iran. But instead, the flotilla incident dominated.

Better than anything Iran could have hoped for, the flotilla incident threatens to complicate the sanctions push in the UN. Washington Turkey expert Soner Cagaptay predicts that where Turkey would have likely abstained on an Iran sanctions vote, it may now vote nay. “Turkey is now freer to vote with its heart on Iran sanctions,” he said, “which means that Turkish-US relations are heading towards a major crisis if we don’t end up defusing the storm gathering over Iran sanctions.”

All of this comes as great news to Iran. The Israeli raid and the resulting international backlash have distracted from the Iranian nuclear issue. On Monday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a harsh report on the lack of cooperation with the agency and Iranian efforts to acquire equipment that would give it the capacity to enrich uranium at higher levels. The report received little media coverage having been overshadowed by the flotilla incident.

Other recent developments can only be cause for celebration in Tehran. Washington’s mild condemnation of Israel puts the Obama administration in an awkward position in which it can’t possibly please everyone. Turkey’s recent statements that it would provide naval escort to humanitarian ships sending aid to Gaza will also only prolong this whole circus, with a chance of more violence or confrontation.  All of this amounts to a miracle for the mullahcracy in Tehran, only days before the anniversary of the election.

And so the task of the Obama administration becomes increasingly difficult. At some point soon, it will have to take an unequivocal position on the flotilla raid. Will Washington placate a vital strategic ally like Turkey, or will it continue its unconditional support for all Israeli action? Appeasing one will come at the expense of damaged relations with the other, and no matter the outcome, it doesn’t make for a very good Iran policy.

As with virtually every major regional event since 2001, the Iranians will need only to sit back without firing a single shot to come out on top.

  • 3 June 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Sanctions, UN

Shifting on 20% enrichment?

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Permanent Envoy to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh relayed seemingly coordinated messages yesterday, hinting that Iran might consider giving up its 20% enrichment work, which is currently the biggest stumbling block for the fuel swap deal.

While reiterating the usual assertion that uranium enrichment is allowed under the NPT, Mottaki added: “if we do not need the 20 percent we won’t move into that direction.”

“We have to do it since we have been facing a lack of any legally-binding assurance of supply,” Soltanieh also told reporters yesterday, adding “when we don’t need 20 percent uranium, we will not produce it.”

These statements might represent a cautious foray into a shifting position by Iran on the 20% enrichment issue.  Iran realizes that with 20% enrichment serving only as a backup plan, and possibly being wholly eliminated in the future, the West’s excuses for rejecting the Brazilian/Turkish deal would evaporate.

For me, now seems like the time to commit to diplomacy, especially when Iran is finally showing some willingness to compromise.

  • 1 June 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file

Iran, Nonproliferation Experts Support Fuel Swap as Basis for Engagement

Contact: Phil Elwood, (917) 379-3787

Today, a group of Iran experts and non-proliferation experts are releasing a statement urging Western powers to use the recently-negotiated fuel swap deal as a first step towards a larger agreement on Iran’s nuclear issue and beyond.

The experts — which include Former Chief Weapons Inspector in Iraq David Kay and Former US Ambassador to the UN Thomas Pickering — do not endorse or reject the deal outright; rather, the statement urges the Unites States and its allies to use the proposal as an opportunity for further engagement with Iran.

Full text of the statement:

June 1, 2010

On Monday, May 24, 2010, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran delivered a letter to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outlining Iran’s commitments to export 1200 kg of Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) to Turkey in exchange for fuel assemblies to power the Tehran Research Reactor. This marked a significant concession from Iran’s previous position, which demanded the exchange take place in small batches, inside Iran’s borders, and simultaneous to the delivery of reactor fuel.

The political paralysis inside Iran that scuttled the fuel exchange proposal when it was first offered in October seems now to have subsided. The proposal currently being considered has the backing of Iran’s Supreme Leader as well as centrists, reformists, and leaders of the Green Movement in Iran, making it more likely that Iran will abide by the terms of its commitments.

Left unresolved in the current proposal is the troubling matter of Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium up to levels approaching 20%. Additionally, even after a successful fuel exchange, the need for Iran to fully satisfy the IAEA and accept a more rigorous inspections regime will remain, as will concerns about the size of its LEU stockpile. Notwithstanding these issues, Iran’s agreement to export a large portion of its LEU outside of its borders for up to a year is worthy of consideration. If enacted, this proposal would begin the process of addressing a major — but not the only — aspect of the strained relationship between Iran and the international community, and would represent a first step in halting Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapons capability.

We urge the so-called Vienna Group (Russia, France, the United States, and the IAEA) to seriously pursue this proposal as an opening for further diplomatic engagement with Iran on outstanding issues of concern. The permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) should take advantage of this opportunity as the first step in a broader dialogue that could include further confidence building measures, such as halting enrichment of uranium above 5%, as well as resolving regional security issues, protecting human rights in Iran, and other issues of mutual interest.

Signed,

  • Amb. Thomas Pickering, Former US Ambassador to the UN
  • Dr. David Kay, Former Chief Weapons Inspector, Iraq
  • Dr. Jeffrey Lewis, Director, Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative, New America Foundation
  • Gen. Robert Gard, Chairman, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
  • Dr. Jim Walsh, MIT
  • Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association
  • Dr. Farideh Farhi, University of Hawaii
  • Dr. Juan Cole, University of Michigan
  • Dr. Trita Parsi, President, National Iranian American Council
  • 17 May 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, UN

White House Statement on the TRR Nuclear Swap

The White House has released a statement on the nuclear fuel swap agreement Brazil and Turkey just reached with Iran:

We acknowledge the efforts that have been made by Turkey and Brazil.  The proposal announced in Tehran must now be conveyed clearly and authoritatively to the IAEA before it can be considered by the international community. Given Iran’s repeated failure to live up to its own commitments, and the need to address fundamental issues related to Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and international community continue to have serious concerns.  While it would be a positive step for Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium off of its soil as it agreed to do last October, Iran said today that it would continue its 20% enrichment, which is a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions and which the Iranian government originally justified by pointing to the need for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor. Furthermore, the Joint Declaration issued in Tehran is vague about Iran’s willingness to meet with the P5+1 countries to address international concerns about its nuclear program, as it also agreed to do last October.

The United States will continue to work with our international partners, and through the United Nations Security Council, to make it clear to the Iranian government that it must demonstrate through deeds – and not simply words – its willingness to live up to international obligations or face consequences, including sanctions. Iran must take the steps necessary to assure the international community that its nuclear program is intended exclusively for peaceful purposes, including by complying with U.N. Security Council resolutions and cooperating fully with the IAEA.  We remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, as part of the P5+1 dual track approach, and will be consulting closely with our partners on these developments going forward.

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.

Sincerely,

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