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Posts Tagged ‘ Iran policy ’

  • 23 April 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 3 Comments
  • Congress, Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Sanctions, UN

Changing Course on Iran Sanctions

This post appeared in today’s The Hill newspaper.

New sanctions on Iran are about the surest bet in Washington these days.

Both the House and the Senate have passed a “crippling” gasoline embargo, and the administration has all but given up talk of negotiations in favor of pressing for UN Security Council sanctions “that bite.” In fact, the only thing left that the administration and Congress disagree on is whether the new sanctions should target all of Iranian society or just the hardliners in power — not an insignificant disagreement by any measure, but one that underscores the broader acceptance of the argument that new sanctions are the only game in town.

But given the fact that the U.S. has sanctioned Iran for decades with little to show for it, the debate over U.S.-Iran policy should not be boiled down to a question of how much more damage we can do. Rather, smart power dictates that the U.S. use every tool available, including those that have been taken off the table, such as lifting certain sanctions.

No one expects the U.S. to unilaterally lift its embargo on Iran. But certain sanctions have unambiguously failed to achieve their objective, contributing instead to the suffering of ordinary Iranians. These should be reexamined, and where appropriate, lifted.

  • 31 December 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 2 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions

NIAC Applauds Shift Toward Targeted Sanctions

Contact: Phil Elwood
917.379.3787

For Immediate Release

Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council welcomes the Obama administration’s decision to pursue targeted sanctions on Iran’s leaders rather than indiscriminate sanctions that would contribute to the suffering of the Iranian people.

“As the Iranian people continue to bravely stand up for their rights, NIAC has been calling on the Administration not to punish the Iranian people for the activities of their government,” said Dokhi Fassihian, member of NIAC’s Board of Directors.  “We are pleased that the Obama administration is committed to pressuring Tehran in a way that spares innocent people unnecessary suffering.”

In Congressional testimony submitted before the House Oversight Committee’s National Security Subcommittee in December, NIAC President Trita Parsi said that “after the groundbreaking developments of this past summer, continuing to ignore the impact additional broad sanctions will have on the Iranian people’s struggle for democracy will only come at our own peril.”

A noticeable shift has occurred in Washington’s plans for Iran sanctions in the new year.  The White House has told leading lawmakers that the Administration does not support untargeted sanctions legislation aimed broadly at the Iranian economy that would punish innocent Iranians. Senior US officials have told journalists that they prefer more targeted measures over so-called “crippling” sanctions because of the desire not to have the Iranian people blame the United States for their isolation.  “We have to be deft at this, because it matters how the Iranian people interpret their isolation — whether they fault the regime or are fooled into thinking we are to blame,” stated a senior official.

NIAC has supported legislation that is designed to target Iranian officials responsible for human rights violations, while at the same time taking steps to remove harmful restrictions on the Iranian people’s access to information, basic rights and freedoms.

NIAC reiterates its call for lawmakers to support measures that stand with the Iranian people, and calls on Congress to support the President’s strategy for dealing with Iran

  • 14 June 2009
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 19 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

What Can the U.S. Do?

One comment from a reader claiming to be in Tehran struck us all today. A translation follows:

“I am in Tehran. Its 3:40 in the morning. I’ve connected with you [by hacking past the government filter]. It’s a big mess here. People are yelling from their houses – ‘death to the dictator.’ They are setting up a military government. No one dares to go out. No one has seen Mousavi today. Rumor has it that they have arrested him. I don’t have an email but I will contact you again.

Help us.”

The comment begs a critical question: How do we help the Iranian people during this tumultuous time? Many Iranian Americans are mobilizing and plan to demonstrate outside the Iranian Interest Section in Washington (inside the Pakistani embassy) tomorrow at 11am.

American policy makers will feel the need to react. But they need to remember this isn’t about us. This is about Iran and Iranians seeking the right to determine their own future. The United States can help little and harm much by interjecting itself into the process. The Obama administration’s approach to the election — keeping its comments low-key and not signaling support for any candidate — was exactly the right approach. While tempting, empty and self-serving rhetorical support for Iranians struggling for more freedoms serves only to aid their opponents. History has made Iran wary of foreign meddling, and American policy-makers in particular must be sensitive to giving hardliners any pretense to call reform-minded Iranians foreign agents. That’s why Iran’s most prominent reformers, including Nobel-laureate Shirin Ebadi, have said the best thing the U.S. can do is step back and let Iran’s indigenous human rights movement progress on its own, without overt involvement from the U.S–however well intentioned.

The policy tool Washington is most comfortable with, broad-based economic sanctions, do little to hurt the elites and government in power and do much to hurt the Iranian people. They give the government a convenient scapegoat for its own economic mismanagement, while strengthening the control of the IRGC and Iranian elites over the economy at the expense of Iran’s middle class.

The unfortunate reality is that while we seek to help, our options are limited for the time being.

Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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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