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Posts Tagged ‘ Strait of Hormuz ’

  • 10 September 2012
  • Posted By Brett Cox
  • 0 Comments
  • Congress, Election 2012, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

The Realities of “Preventive” Strikes

Certain media outlets as well as conservative political camps in both the US and Israel would have you believe that it would take no more than a few days of airstrikes to delay and/or end Iran’s nuclear program. This claim is misleading in more ways than I can count, but here are a few.

Compared to the peaceful options laid out by Trita Parsi at last week’s Wilson Center panel discussion, “preventive strikes” carry a high risk of Iranian retaliation, regional war and American casualties. Pacifist fluff? Hardly. Take it from Admiral Michael Mullen:

“The US is aware that the action of a military strike could be destabilizing for the entire Middle East region and potentially generate a nuclear weapons race in that part of the world. I think an attack would also be, by us or by anybody else, very destabilizing.”

Further, according to a report published by CSIS, Gen. James N. Mattis, Commander of US Central Command, told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.

The report CSIS outlines that retaliation from Iran would include “swarm tactics” on a heavy US naval presence and a potential rain of missiles from Iran – well known in the region for an ample ballistic missile program. Missile attacks on Gulf neighbors, all members of a united Gulf Cooperation Council, would give them a right to return fire in self-defense.

  • 9 August 2012
  • Posted By Jessica Schieder
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup: August 9, 2012

Israeli Defense Minister publicly divulges US intelligence report
Iran Syria talks seen short on action
Standard Chartered begins fightback on Iran allegations
Flame and Stuxnet Cousin Targets Lebanese Bank Customers, Carries Mysterious Payload
Iran says abrupt Assad fall would be “catastrophic”
Gulf Nations Aim to Secure Water, Food Supply
U.S. Navy Rescues 10 From Iranian Ship on Fire
Pakistan, Iran agree wheat price in barter deal
Turkey Warns Iran: ‘You Cannot Threaten Us’
Tehran denies kidnapped Iranians killed in Syria
Egypt’s president holds talks with Iran’s vice president
MTN in Talks With U.S. to Unlock Iran Earnings

Notable Opinion: Sanctions Will Kill Tens of Thousands of Iranians

  • 21 July 2012
  • Posted By Roshan Alemi
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, US-Iran War

A Wakeup Call in the Persian Gulf

USNS Rappahannock, right, with the USS James E. Williams

USNS Rappahannock, right, with the USS James E. Williams

Earlier this week, many in Washington held their breath after the U.S. Navy announced that the USNS Rappahannock had resorted to “lethal force” and fired on a small vessel in the Persian Gulf that had rapidly approached the U.S. ship.  Although we subsequently learned that it was Indian fishermen – not Iranian sailors – who had been shot, the incident illustrates just how dangerous the situation in the Persian Gulf really is.

What would have happened if the fishing boat had in fact been an Iranian naval vessel? Could the incident have escalated into armed conflict? It’s not hard to imagine a dangerous escalation when the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations has no way of communicating with his Iranian counterpart.

The U.S. has managed to convey messages to Iran in a number of ways – from working through the Swiss to sending letters through the Turkish prime minister.  But the reality is that sending letters by courier is utterly insufficient when people are shooting at each other.

It is shocking that, in a time of crisis, the Chief of U.S. Naval Operations cannot pick up the phone and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control by talking to Iran’s naval commanders.  Given the tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the close proximity of U.S. and Iranian vessels operating in the Persian Gulf every day, it is downright dangerous that we do not have such a simple capability.

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

Iran News Roundup: July 20, 2012

U.S. Officials Blame Hezbollah for Terror Attack

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that American officials identified the man as a member of a Hezbollah cell “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets. A U.S. official said it was a “tit for tat” attack done to retaliate for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists by Israel (NYT 7/19).

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov cautioned against speculating over who carried out the terrorist attack in Burgas, saying it would be “wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organization” (Haaretz 7/20).

U.S. Says Iran Developed Plans to Disrupt Oil Trade

U.S. officials have said that new intelligence indicates that Iran has developed plans to attack oil platforms and tankers to disrupt international oil trade “both inside and outside the Persian Gulf.” One U.S. official commented, “This doesn’t mean they would do something, as there are significant costs the Iranians would have to consider, but this is something to keep an eye on,” (WSJ 7/19).

Israeli Poll Shows Little Support for Unilateral Strike on Iran

In a poll by Israeli daily, Maariv, only 19 percent of Israelis said they support a unilateral strike against Iran. 26 percent said Israel should only strike with U.S. backing, and 29 percent said Israel should take no action. 26 percent were undecided (Reuters 7/20).

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

Iran News Roundup: July 5, 2012

P5+1 Talks to Continue

Technical-level talks in Istanbul between the P5+1 and Iran ended early Wednesday, saying that talks would resume between the deputies of lead negotiators at an unspecified later date (NYT 7/5).

In a new document, presented to Iran experts by Iran’s mission to the UN, which includes transcriptional excerpts, both parties seem interested in continuing negotiations until after the November 4th election day. The text prioritizes sanctions relief, and an interest in setting the framework for “comprehensive and targeted dialogue for long term cooperation” that goes beyond the nuclear issue, reports Laura Rozen. (Al-Monitor 7/4).

If US Attacks, Iran Claims to Have Contingency Plans to Attack American Bases

Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency quoted the air force commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps claiming he has contingency plans to attack 35 American bases across the Middle East, as well as Israel, within minutes of the start of a conflict (NYT 7/5; Reuters 7/4).

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

Iran News Roundup: July 3, 2012

US Increases Military Presence in the Persian Gulf

In response to proposed legislation in the Iranian parliament to close the Strait of Hormuz, the United States has “quietly” moved additional fighter jets, minesweepers, stealth warplanes, and other military reinforcements into the region. Navy ships are in place patrolling the Strait of Hormuz, reportedly to ensure that the waterway isn’t mined. “The message to Iran is, ‘Don’t even think about it,’” one senior Defense Department official said (NYT 7/3The Guardian 7/3).

The senior Defense Department official added, “This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions,” (NYT 7/3).

Second Day of War Games Continues in Iran

Today is the second day of war games in the north-central desert area of Semnan province in Iran by Revolutionary Guards Corps. The efficiency of warheads and missile systems, including the Shahab 3 missile and unmanned drones, are being tested partially in response to the implementation of an EU embargo on Iranian oil. Iran has announced a new ballistic missile called Arm, which allegedly has the capacity to detect and hit radar bases (WSJ 7/2; Reuters 7/3).

Russian Think Tank Suggests Russia Could Sell S-300s to Iran

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow, commented today during an interview of anti-aircraft missile sales that, “The S-300 ban was a political decision and these systems are not actually subject to sanctions.”  He suggested, “If the Syrian regime is changed by force or if Russia doesn’t like the outcome” of a peaceful transition to a new government, “it most likely will respond by selling S-300s to Iran” (Bloomberg 7/3).

NITC and Sinopec Struggle to Resolve Freight Dispute

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

Iran News Roundup: June 28, 2012

Bush Advisor Calls for Naval Blockade of Iran

President Bush’s former National Security Council director of international energy, Robert McNally, advocates for a U.S. naval blockade against Iran in today’s Financial Times.  McNally acknowledges his recommendation would be an act of war under international law (Financial Times 6/27).

China and Singapore Receive Sanctions Waivers

The Obama administration has extended waivers to China and Singapore, allowing them to importing Iranian oil without penalty for the next 180 days. All countries importing Iranian oil have now received cooperating country waivers from the Secretary of State (U.S. State Department 6/28).

Analysts: Oil Prices Set to Top $110 Again

The median estimate of 32 analysts tracked by Bloomberg expect the price of Brent crude to reach an average $114.50 a barrel in the third quarter, as compared to prices last week in London that dipped as low as $88.49 (Bloomberg 6/28).

Iran Experiencing Grain Shortages Due to Sanctions

Iranian attempts to secure grain via barter deals with India and Pakistan are failing, forcing Iran to pay high premiums for the food staple (Reuters 6/28).

UN Experts Condemn Executions of Ahwazi Arab Minority in Iran

After an allegedly unfair trial, four members of the Ahwazi Arab minority group in Iran were sentenced to death by public executions. Independent human rights experts cited by the UN emphasized, “Defendants in death penalty cases should also receive fair trial guarantees stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Iran in 1975.” Despite the technical illegality of public executions in Iran, since January 2008, the practice continues with the UN reporting at least 25 public executions have taken place this year in Iran (UN Human Rights 6/28).

Apple Facing Accusations of Civil Rights Violations

Following multiple recent instances of alleged racial profiling and discrimination at Apple stores, the National Iranian American Council and a coalition of groups Iranian-American and civil rights groups sent a letter to Apple warning that its actions appear to violate civil rights law.  (International Business Times 6/27).

  • 25 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up, Uncategorized

Iran News Roundup 01/25

Will Israel Attack Iran?

New York Times magazine will run a cover story on whether an Israeli strike on Iran is imminent. According to the author, Ronen Bergman, “After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012” (New York Times Magazine 01/25).

Bergman is “one of a small circle of heavyweights in the Israeli media who spend a significant amount of time with the politicians, spies and generals who are going to make the ultimate decision” says Julian Borger in the Guardian.  But, he notes, Jeffrey Goldberg–who wrote an Atlantic cover story predicting Israel would strike Iran in 2011–thinks that Bergman’s assessment may be premature and that many of the officials quoted in Bergman’s piece are the same ones who convinced Goldberg that 2011 would be the year Israel would strike Iran.  Borger says, “Clearly, Israeli has a motive in conveying the impression that an attack might be imminent, to stir up urgency in the West to confront Iran. (The Guardian 01/25)

Iran to debate bill that would see an immediate halt to all European oil exports 

Iran may preempt a EU ban on Iranian oil, which will not go into effect for six months to avoid a cut off during peak winter months and to allow European states to find new suppliers. But Iran may decide to stop its European exports immediately.  “Many Iranian lawmakers and officials have called for an immediate ban on oil exports to the European bloc before its ban fully goes into effect in July, arguing that the 27 EU nations account for only about 18 percent of Iran’s overall oil sales and would be hurt more by the decision than Iran.” (Washington Post 01/25)

  • 24 January 2012
  • Posted By Jacob Martin
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/24

Australia imposes sanctions on Iranian oil

Following yesterday’s announcement of EU imposed sanctions, Australian Foreign Secretary Kevin Rudd stated that Australia would also stop importing Iranian oil.  Rudd acknowledged Australia’s imports of Iranian oil are already “negligible.”   (CNN 01/24)

Fitch: EU oil sanctions likely to increase prices

Fitch ratings evaluates that it is very likely that the EU oil embargo on Iran will increase oil prices, though it states markets may have already priced in much of the increase. Fitch notes that it is “difficult to predict at this stage” what effect U.S. extraterritorial sanctions will have, adding “the global oil market would have less flexibility in the event of large unexpected supply interruptions elsewhere, potentially sending oil prices much higher than current levels” if the sanctions are aggressively enforced. (Fitch Ratings 01/24)

  • 23 January 2012
  • Posted By Sheyda Monshizadeh-Azar
  • 0 Comments
  • NIAC round-up

Iran News Roundup 01/23

European Union agrees to Iran oil embargo

All 27-member states have agreed to impose a ban on Iranian oil. Full implementation begins on July 1.  In response, an Iranian member of Parliament urged Iran to immediately cut off sales to the EU, in order to disrupt EU oil supply before the planned July date. (Reuters 01/23)

In addition, two other Parliamentarians again warned that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for oil sanctions. (AP 01/23)

The price of Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose 1.2% to $111.14 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the US reference, rose 1.3 per cent to $99.59 a barrel. (Financial Times 01/23)

Iranian bank Tejarat sanctioned 

The Obama administration has imposed sanctions on Iran’s third largest bank, Bank Tejarat.  All of Iran’s largest state-owned banks have now been blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury.  In addition, an affiliate, Belarus-based Trade Capital Bank, was also sanctioned. (Reuters 01/23) 

IAEA confirms visit to Iran, aims to “resolve all outstanding substantive issue” 

“The Agency team is going to Iran in a constructive spirit, and we trust that Iran will work with us in that same spirit,” Yukiya Amano, Director General of the IAEA. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA told Reuters last week the visit would take place from January 29-31 and that his country was open to discuss “any issues” of interest for the U.N. agency. “The overall objective of the IAEA is to resolve all outstanding substantive issues,” the IAEA statement added. (Reuters 01/23)

Russia hopeful for renewed Iran talks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that he believes there is a good chance that talks between global powers and Iran could resume, despite a planned EU oil embargo and other sources of tension.  (Reuters 01/23)

Rial Declines Sharply

Iran’s currency, the Rial, has fallen sharply to 23,000 per $1 US dollar — a 15% decline.  Gold prices have also increased significantly. (Enduring America 01/23)

Notable Opinion:

Time magazine’s Tony Karon examines the package that the U.S. is expected to offer Iran should diplomatic talks commence, and finds it unlikely to succeed:

Yahoo diplomatic correspondent Laura Rozen reported last week that insiders were suggesting  that Western powers will measure Iran’s “seriousness” in the coming talks by its willingness to halt enrichment of uranium to 20%, and turn over its existing stockpile of uranium enriched to that level.

It doesn’t take a clairvoyant to see that Iran is highly unlikely to accept a deal under which it gives Western powers something they want but leaves the latest, most damaging sanctions on Iran’s oil exports still in place, instead simply holding off on another round of UN sanctions — which are far less painful, and which the Western powers are unable to persuade Russia and China to substantially tighten.

Click here to read in full.

Other Notable News:

Muhammid Sahimi suggests that a growing rift can be seen developing in the Revolutionary Guard.

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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