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  • 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

Ominous signs for new Congress’ Iran agenda: sanctions, blockade, war

This past Wednesday, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee convened for a hearing on “Implementing Tougher Sanctions on Iran” and offered a frightening preview of what will be on the House’s agenda next year.

At the hearing, Representative Don Manzullo (R-IL) laid out what may be the game plan by the new Republican Congress to drag the US into yet a third war in the Middle East:

“If these sanctions don’t work, then the next step would be a blockade,” Manzullo said looking over his shoulder to incoming chairwoman Ros Lehtinen.  “And the next step would be some type of—you hate to use the word—but military action.”

Even though it is evident that sanctions have weakened Iran’s economy, it should come as no surprise that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen now wants to pressure the Administration to impose even tougher sanctions on Iran.

“Since the 1990’s, the US and international efforts to stop growing Iranian threat have been half-hearted at best. The problem is not that a tough approach has failed, but that it has yet to be fully tried.”

When it came to the opposition Green Movement in Iran – a movement based on the civil and human rights on Iranians -Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) was incensed that his question about support  for that movement was answered instead with a response about supporting human rights. “My question is what are we doing to promote the opposition, not human rights.”

It appears that the representatives have blindfolded themselves to what is actually going on in Iran and are taking sides on issues that they don’t seem to fully comprehend.

Read NIAC’s report from the hearing

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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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