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Posts Tagged ‘ Iranian Freedom Institute ’

  • 9 March 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 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.

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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