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  • 11 January 2012
  • Posted By Ardavon Naimi
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/11

Iranian nuclear scientist assassinated

An Iranian nuclear scientist and a department supervisor of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was assassinated after an assailant on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his car. Iranian officials claim that Israel is responsible for the assassination (New York Times 01/11).

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, “The United States strongly condemns this act of violence and categorically denies any involvement in the killing” (Washington Post 01/11).  Israeli officials have declined to comment. (Reuters 01/11).

The Guardian provides a timeline of similar attacks on Iran’s nuclear program and scientists.

Sanctions watch

Rebuffing pressure from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, China’s vice minister of foreign affairs repeated China’s opposition to sanctions on Iran’s oil export.  “We oppose pressuring or international sanctions because these pressures and sanctions are not helpful. They have not solved any issues,” he said. “We believe these problems should be solved by dialogue.”  (NY Times 01/11).

While India’s foreign minister insisted Iran is “crucial” to India’s energy security, companies such state-owned refining company Hindustan Petroleum Corporation are working to diversify their oil supplies away from Iran and are increasing imports of crude oil from Saudi Arabia. (Financial Times 01/10).

Reaction to Fordo site

Russia expressed concern over Iran’s announcement of uranium enrichment at its underground Fordo site near Qom, and urged all parties to resume talks through the P5+1.

Secretary of State Clinton condemned the announcement, saying “there is no plausible justification” to enrich uranium to a 20 percent level. She said the step brings Iran closer to nuclear weapons capacity (AP 01/10).

Meanwhile, GOP candidate Rick Santorum said Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is ignoring the facts when he says that Iran has not yet decided to build a nuclear weapon (Think Progress 01/10).

U.S. intelligence official discuss the effects of U.S. sanctions

A senior U.S. intelligence official tells the Washington Post that sanctions may “create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”  However, the intelligence official also acknowledged that the sanctions “could have the opposite effect from what’s intended and impel the Iranian leader to decide, ‘We’re going to build that nuclear weapon.’”  The official argued further that obtaining a nuclear weapon “actually might temper [Iran’s] behavior.” (Washington Post 01/10).

Iran blocks MPs from running for reelection

Iran’s interior ministry has barred at least 33 Iranian members of parliament from running in March’s parliamentary election. Most reformist candidates are refusing to participate in the election. (The Guardian 01/10).

IPS reports that, less than two months before the parliamentary elections, the Iranian government has instituted a new round of arrests and prison sentences for Iranian activists and journalists (IPS 01/10).  Meanwhile, Iran’s police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam discussed the launch of Iran’s national Internet service.

Notable opinion: 

In an op-ed for Foreign Affairs, writer Hooman Majd, returning from a 11 month visit to Iran, discusses the political climate, the effects of sanctions, and the state of the opposition movement:

So sanctioning Iran’s central bank and embargoing Iranian oil, tactics the White House may be using as a way to avoid having to make a decision for war, will neither change minds in Tehran nor do much of anything besides bring more pain to ordinary Iranians. And making life difficult for them has not, so far, resulted in their rising up to overthrow the autocratic regime, as some might have hoped in Washington or London.

Predicting the future in Iran is a fool’s game, as the country and its people have defied expectations for years. But with continuing political turmoil among conservatives, pressure from the West, parliamentary elections in March, and the almost complete crushing of the reformists, it seems that this year promises to be another annus horribilis for both the leadership and the people.

To read the full piece click here.

Additional Notable News:

A Washington Post editorial argues “every effort must be made” to stop “Iranian sales of oil everywhere in the world,” and that the Obama administration should not engage Iran at this point.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has published a list of a 110 secret executions in Iran’s Vakilabad Prison.

The New York Times reports that on Tuesday, the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet near the Persian Gulf saved a group of distressed Iranian mariners.

  • 18 August 2011
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 3 Comments
  • MEK

State Department includes MEK in latest terrorism report, but review still pending

The State Department today released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism, which includes the  Mujahedin-e Khalq under the section on Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs).

Does this mean the group’s terror designation has been retained and its multi-million dollar campaign to pressure its way off of the FTO list has failed?

No.

The review by Secretary Clinton regarding the MEK designation remains pending.  FTOs  are legally allowed to appeal their listing every two years, and Secretary Clinton’s decision regarding their most recent appeal will come out separately and is expected soon.

The Country Reports on Terrorism, on the other hand, is legally required every year, and–since MEK remains an FTO (at least until Clinton finalizes her review)–the organization is listed in the report.

The report does, however, include many important facts on the history, ideology, and current status of the MEK (which may be worth a look by some of the prominent former U.S. officials receiving cash to advocate for the group without doing their homework).  It also includes a few updates from last year’s report that may or may not suggest which direction the State Department is headed regarding the FTO review.  The main update from last year’s report is regarding the 1979 U.S. embassy takeover:

Though denied by the MEK, analysis based on eyewitness accounts and MEK documents demonstrates that MEK members participated in and supported the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and that the MEK later argued against the early release the American hostages. The MEK also provided personnel to guard and defend the site of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, following the takeover of the Embassy.

The new report also has omitted some items from last year’s report.  It no longer contains a passage on how Saddam Hussein provided MEK with millions of dollars from the Oil For Food program, and it no longer mentions that a “significant number of MEK personnel voluntarily left Ashraf, and an additional several hundred individuals renounced ties to the MEK and (have) been voluntarily repatriated to Iran.”

The full passage on MEK, with annotations from last year’s report, is included after the jump.

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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