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  • 7 December 2011
  • Posted By Loren White
  • Diplomacy, NIAC round-up, Sanctions

Iran News Roundup 12/7

Details continue to emerge about fallen U.S. drone
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. drone that was recently downed in Iran was flying deep inside Iranian airspace when it crashed (Washington Post 12/7).  Additionally, the Huffington Post writes that drone was part of a “fleet of stealth aircraft that have spied on Iran for years from a U.S. air base in Afghanistan” (Huffington Post 12/6).  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal the US had plans to retrieve the drone inside Iran but opted against it because it could be considered as an act of war (Wall Street Journal 12/7).

Saudi Arabia pressing for sanctions while threatening to pursue nuclear weapons

Oil has risen for the fourth straight day due to concerns about supplies given considerations of an oil embargo against Iran (Businessweek 12/7). AFP reported last week, according to comments made by Senator Mark Kirk, Saudi Arabian officials are eager to help fill any production gap caused by an Iranian oil embargo, which would presumably lead to billions of dollars in additional profits.  Today the Associated Press is reporting that for the first time the Saudi’s, “in a remark designed to send chills through the Obama administration” publically threatened that unless steps are taken to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon that they will pursue a nuclear capability of their own (Associated Press 12/7). 

Notable Opinion
In an Atlantic Council op-ed, Dominic Tierney says that the Iran Threat Reduction Act is an “insane plan to outlaw diplomacy with Iran.”

In an almost unprecedented move, the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 (H.R. 1905) includes a clause that reads, “No person employed with the United States Government may contact in an official or unofficial capacity any person that … is an agent, instrumentality, or official of, is affiliated with, or is serving as a representative of the Government of Iran.”

The notion of outlawing contact with Iran is one of those ideas that at first glance sounds merely awful — and then upon reflection, seems truly dreadful.

The United States does not have formal relations with Iran but Washington engages in a variety of unofficial contacts, most of which would become illegal. The bill would outlaw discussion with Iran about ways to end its nuclear program, even though this is a supposed aim of U.S. foreign policy. It would also stop the United States and Iran from cooperating in areas like Afghanistan, where there is actually some overlap of interests in avoiding a Taliban resurgence.

To read the full piece click here.

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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