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  • 6 September 2012
  • Posted By Stacy Hubert
  • 0 Comments
  • Election 2012, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Will Obama go on offensive about loose war talk?

On the eve of Barack Obama’s speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, it’s an open question as to how the President plans to frame the Iran debate.

At the Republican Convention last week, we heard loud and clear how Mitt Romney plans to differentiate himself from Obama: less talking to Iran, more talk about bombing Iran.

In his acceptance speech, he said of the President’s policy:

“…every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat. In his first TV interview as president, he said we should talk to Iran. We are still talking, and Iran’s centrifuges are still spinning.”

Romney’s website continues down the same path:

U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with an understanding on Iran’s part that a military option to deal with their nuclear program remains on the table. This message should not only be delivered through words, but through actions.

And although as Romney states that “time has shown that existing sanctions have not led the ayatollahs to abandon their nuclear aspirations,” he still believes more sanctions are the answer (which does not necessarily separate him much from Obama):

As for Iran in particular, I will take every measure necessary to check the evil regime of the ayatollahs. Until Iran ceases its nuclear-bomb program, I will press for ever-tightening sanctions, acting with other countries if we can but alone if we must. I will speak out on behalf of the cause of democracy in Iran and support Iranian dissidents who are fighting for their freedom. I will make clear that America’s commitment to Israel’s security and survival is absolute.

So Romney is covering his bases.  Axis of Evil reference: check. Claiming to support the Iranian people: check. Calling for another round of sanctions that punish those very same people: check. Attacking diplomacy: check.  But if  his intentions truly reflect some of his rhetoric, Romney would take talks of the table–which only leaves war.

  • 27 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 27, 2012

Iranian Increases Defense Capabilities in the Persian Gulf, Adds Anti-Ship Missiles

Analysts say Iran has developed an arsenal of sophisticated anti-ship missiles in the Persian Gulf, and it has expanded its fleet of submarines and fast-attack boats to increase its defense capabilities (Washington Post 7/26).

P5+1 Talks with Iran to Resume “Soon”

EU foreign policy spokesman Michael Mann said a meeting between top EU and Iranian representatives to discuss the nuclear issue “will happen soon, but we don’t yet have the date,” (AP 7/26).

Khamenei Advisor Says Talks Will Continue Until  “Positive Conclusions” are Reached

  • 25 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 25, 2012

Romney Takes Hard Line on Iranian Enrichment

At the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, Mitt Romney took a hardline on Iran’s nuclear program. “There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, whatsoever, period,” Romney said (Fox News 7/24). In a separate interview, Romney advisor Rich Williamson asserted that, “after the election… [President Obama] is going to cut a deal allowing [Iran] to have enrichment,” (PBS 7/24).

Iranian Supreme Leader Urges Unity On Sanctions

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged his nation’s politicians to show more unity under pressure from Western sanctions. In a meeting with officials, he is quoted as saying, “You should avoid useless disputes and airing these disputes to help preserve the nation’s unity … and officials should know these actions will not bring them any honor or prestige among the people,” (Reuters 7/25).

Irano Hind Shipping Co. Folds Under Sanctions Pressure

  • 24 July 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: July 24, 2012

Investigation into Burgas Bomber Continues

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, speaking alongside White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan in Sofia, said the suicide bomber, who carried out an attack in Burgas last week, was part of a “sophisticated” group of conspirators, who arrived in Bulgaria one month before the attack. He declined to back Israeli claims that Iran or Hezollah played a role, but did say they knew “”when [the attacker] arrived, the presumed flight, and where it came from” (BBC 7/24).

Israeli President Says Israel in “Open War” with Iran

Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview with CNN that Israel is in an “open war” with Iran, following last week’s bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis. Peres insisted Israeli had “enough” intelligence to link Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah to the attacks. He added, “self-defense is the right and the must of every people,” (Al Arabiya 7/23).

Thousands of Iranians Take to the Street to Protest Food Prices

Iranian news sources report that several thousand Iranians in the northeastern city of Neishapour protested rising prices on food staples in the city’s main square today. The protest was the first instance of unrest sparked by recent economic woes. Protesters allegedly chanted “Death to Inflation” and “Shame on you government, you must resign” (Wall Street Journal 7/23).

Iranian Reformists May Field Presidential Candidate in 2013

After being purged from the political scene in 2009, statements by Iranian reformists politicians suggest they may field a presidential candidate in 2013. Spokesman for the reformist National Trust Party, Esmail Gerami-Moghaddam, told Reuters, “If we enter the elections with a strong candidate, the government will be forced to respect people’s votes,” but he conceded that, “It’s true that even if we get the presidency we will not be able to do much,” (Reuters 7/23).

P5+1 Deputy Talks Conclude in Istanbul

Today in Istanbul Deputy Head of the EU’s foreign relations arm Helga Schmid and Iran’s deputy negotiator on the nuclear issue met today to discuss the nuclear standoff with Iran and the future of P5+1 talks with Iran. After the meeting, the EU’s spokesperson said “the next stage will be a contact between” chief negotiator for the P5+1, Catherine Ashton, and Iran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili (Al-Monitor 7/24).

Sanctions Negatively Effecting Afghan Economy

  • 19 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: 19 June 2012

Moscow Talks Concludes

Talks concluded today with the parties agreeing to an “early follow-on technical-level meeting” in Istanbul on July 3rd, to be followed by a meeting at the deputy-level between the EU and Iran (Reuters 6/19). EU representative Catherine Ashton said the P5+1 remains “absolutely unified in seeking a swift diplomatic resolution to international concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program, based on the NPT and the full implementation by Iran of UNSC and IAEA Board of Governors Resolutions” (Consilium Europa 6/19). Iran’s representative, Saeed Jalili, added that the Moscow talks were, “more serious, more realistic and way beyond just expressing the viewpoints and positions” (NYT 6/19). Iran left the talks without any assurances of a delay or alleviation of sanctions (NYT 6/19). Oil prices rose on the news (Bloomberg 6/19).

Yesterday, Iran emphasized on Monday that sanctions relief must be provided if Iran is expected to curb its nuclear activities (Salon 6/18). Using a PowerPoint presentation, Jalili laid out a detailed account of Iran’s five point proposal (The Guardian 6/18). NIAC’s statement on the talks can be found here.

Ahmadinejad Sends Message to the West

On his presidential website, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has posted: “’From the beginning the Islamic Republic has stated that if European countries provided 20 percent enriched fuel for Iran, it would not enrich to this level’” (Reuters 6/18).

U.S. Fed Up with MEK Intransigence on Camp Ashraf

The U.S. urged the Mujehedin-e Khalq (MEK) to abandon the paramilitary base it set up under Saddam Hussein, Camp Ashraf, warning that failure to do so would diminish the likelihood that it would succeed in its lobbying campaign to be removed from the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland emphasized that the paramilitary’s base’s closure “is a key factor in determining whether the organization remains invested in its violent past or is committed to leaving that past behind”  (State Dept. 6/18).  An unnamed US official additional said, “We believe that they are gravely mistaken to think that any conceivable Iraqi government would in fact allow them to remain as a paramilitary organization in Iraq” (Reuters 6/18).

Romney: U.S. cannot survive a nuclear Iran

As conservatives in Congress press for confrontation with Iran, presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued, “We cannot survive a- a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran.”  Romney further stated that an attack on Iran would not require Congressional approval (The Washington Post 6/18).

Escalating Sanctions

Iranian banks Pasargad and Bank Tejerat have applied to the Turkish banking watchdog for licenses to operate in Turkey to avoid sanctions on bank transactions with Iran, demonstrating the strain on Iranian banks as a result of political pressure (Reuters 6/18). Turkey has cut its oil imports from Iran from 210,000 bpd to 140,000 bpd in the first four months of this year (Reuters 6/18).

Germany’s Germanischer Lloyd has stopped verifying safety and environmental standards for Iranian companies, making it more difficult for Iranian ships to call at international ports (Reuters 6/18).

An American citizen was turned away from an Apple store after she spoke Farsi with her uncle (WSBTV Atlanta 6/18). The store manager justified the action by explaining the store’s policy was merely complying with US sanctions against Iran, which make the sale of Apple goods to Iran illegal (WSBTV Atlanta 6/18).

Analysis: “MEK Working Through Senate to Sabotage Iran Diplomacy”

Affiliates of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, are claiming to be behind a major letter from the Senate aimed at curtailing U.S. diplomatic efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear dispute.

The letter, sent last week by forty-four Senators, calls for President Obama to abandon any further diplomatic efforts with Iran unless stringent preconditions are immediately met.   While many assumed that the prominent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby was behind the letter, MEK-affiliates are now taking some of the public credit.

The lead author of the letter, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), enjoys ties to the Iranian-American Cultural Association of Missouri, an MEK-affiliate that released a statement supporting the letter. (NIAC 6/19)

  • 18 June 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: 18 June 2012

Talks Resume in Moscow

In what Reuters calls a “nervous atmosphere,” talks between the P5+1 and Iran resumed today in Moscow. A western diplomat said, “Ashton is willing to stay in Moscow as long as it takes,” although the climate inside the meetings was “tense and tough,” according to another unnamed Western source (Al-Monitor 6/18Reuters 6/17).

Talks are set to resume Tuesday (Al-Monitor 6/18Reuters 6/17). Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator, has said Iran’s right to enrichment should be “’recognized and respected,’” while Western concerns for Iran’s nuclear program have remained high (Reuters 6/17). According to an Iranian diplomat, Iranians had three priorities going into this morning’s meetings: to criticize western negotiators for refusing Iranian requests for a preparatory meeting before the Moscow talks, to give a detailed response to all the points in a confidence building proposal put forward by the P5+1 in Baghdad, and to give the P5+1 a more detailed run-through of its five-pont plan (Al-Monitor 6/18).

Israeli President Shimon Peres said in an interview ahead of talks in Moscow by saying: “’The problem is the following: If we would say only economic sanctions [will be imposed], then the Iranians will say OK, we will wait until it will be over. Now what the Americans and Europeans and Israelis are saying is if you won’t answer the economic challenge, all other options are on the table. It will not end there. Without that, there is no chance that the sanctions will [work]’” (Slate Magazine 6/15). When asked about his opinion of using military action against Iran, Peres emphasized the Iranians must see the threat of US military intervention as credible (Slate Magazine 6/15).

In response to Israeli concerns that the Iranians are merely buying time, an unnamed western official told The Guardian, “’The notion that Iran is playing for time and we’re playing for time is wrong. We have a sense of urgency. We’ve communicated this to the Iranians, and what we’re hoping is that their calculus will be affected by the bite of these sanctions’” (Huffington Post 6/17; The Guardian 6/17).

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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