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  • 7 February 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 02/07

New sanctions continue to weaken Iran’s middle class

According to the New York Times, sanctions and Iran’s economic decline have primarily impacted the middle class, with many in Iran increasingly unable to afford living expenses or maintain businesses that are losing clients.  “We know they want to pressure us so we rise against our government, but we are not in a position to do that,” said Murad, a waiter at a tea shop.  “The rich don’t suffer, they are protected. The truth is, we’d like to have good relations with the West. What is the point of ‘Death to the U.S.A.’? But what can we do about this?”   This ordeal has also affected Iran’s medical sector, whose diminishing supply of medicine and inability to replace aging radiological equipment have left many Iranian cancer patients unable to afford or even have access to treatment.  (NY Times 02/07)

In a piece for the Boston Review, Natasha Bahrami and Trita Parsi discuss the historical ineffectiveness of sanctions to bring about democratic change and how this message is applicable to Iran.  Parsi and Bahrami cite data collected by the Threat and Imposition of Sanctions (TIES) database, which “identifies 365 cases of partial economic embargoes, 138 implemented by the United States. Surprisingly only four of the U.S.-imposed sanctions, less than 3 percent, are designated as having achieved full acquiescence to U.S. demands.” (Boston Review 02/06)

Ahmadinejad to testify before Parliament over economic concerns

Iranian MP’s called upon President Ahmadinejad to testify before Parliament to discuss “irregularities” in his management of Iran’s weakened economy, including a recent $2.6 billion banking scandal.  Opponents of Ahmadinejad have alleged that he retains close ties to those involved in the embezzlement scheme.  This would mark the first time since the 1979 revolution that Parliament successfully forced testimony from an Iranian president.  (NY Times 02/07)

Iranians detained for links to BBC Persian

Several individuals have been detained in Iran for allegedly gathering news and information for BBC’s Persian service, which is banned by Tehran.  The BBC released a statement saying that none of BBC Persian’s staff are currently operating inside Iran.  The statement went on to say that these recent events “should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media.”  These detentions as well as last week’s harassment of BBC Persian staff and family members are part of a greater move by Iran’s government to restrict the flow of information ahead of the March parliamentary elections.   (BBC 02/07)

House Intelligence Committee calls against pre-emptive strike on Iran

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned today that a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran would have vast consequences for U.S. national security, which could be threatened considerably by any form of Iranian retaliation.  “If Israel does a unilateral strike, this could be a real problem for the security interests of the United States,” said Rogers in an interview on CNN.    (ABC 02/07)

Notable Opinion:

 In an op-ed in Foreign Policy, the State Department’s former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran, John Limbert, outlines new negotiating steps the U.S. can undertake to accomplish a meaningful diplomatic exchange with Iran:

 “A frustrated Iran is one that will lash out in all directions — at Israel, at the United States, at Britain (as in the recent attack on its embassy in Tehran), and at Saudi Arabia (as in the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States with the help of Mexican drug cartels). Nonetheless, U.S. negotiators should be careful not to overreact to every claim, every statement, and every bit of bluster coming from the harried leaders in Tehran. Iran would like Washington to dance to its tune, and it likes to show its power by provoking America into unwise reactions. In such cases, language matters, and U.S. diplomats should be measured, clear, and cautious. Let the other side rant and rave.”

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

Iranian purchasers have defaulted on payment for about 200,000 tons of rice from India, which supplies about 70% of Iran’s annual supply.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, announced opposition to any intervention in Syria, proclaiming, “We are absolutely not interfering in the internal affairs of Syria, and we consider that the interference of other countries there to be a danger to the security and stability of Syria.”

According to Mesghal, the unofficial exchange rate for the Iranian Rial vs. the US dollar is now 18650:1, a drop in almost 3% in the Iranian currency’s value today.

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose to a six-month high of more than $117 per barrel.

Guest Post: “Lost in Opposition”

Special guest post by Pedram Moallemian

This post first appeared at eyeranian.net:

One of the many problems with the primarily “in-exile” opposition to the Iranian government is their choice to detach themselves from the day-to-day lives of their compatriots back home. I say choice, as with the state of today’s technology, distance is an almost non-existing barrier and they could certainly connect to current issues and hot topics within Iran if they wanted to.

The latest example is a piece of legislation that has already passed primary screening procedures of the appropriate committee and is about to be presented to the Iranian parliament, Majles. Introduced and backed by both the judiciary as well as cabinet and under the title of “Family Assistance Bill” [layehe-hamayat-az-khanevadeh], it will become law if passed by the greater chamber and then ratified by the Guardian Council to ensure its compatibility with the constitution as well as Islamic law and traditions.

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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