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Posts Tagged ‘ UAE ’

  • 7 July 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • Diplomacy, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

UAE Ambassador speaks before he thinks

“’We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. The United States may be able to live with it, we can’t.”

On Tuesday, the UAE Ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, publicly endorsed military action against Iran if sanctions fail to stop its nuclear program. That’s a bold statement coming from neighboring  Muslim country, and more importantly, a neighbor that conducts $12 billion in trade with Iran.

“I think it’s a cost-benefit analysis,” al-Otaiba said in a public interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion … there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what.”

What was al-Otaiba thinking when he made that statement? Apparently, his remarks stem from his own personal opinions as the statement was promptly walked back by other UAE officials. Immediately after the statements were made, the UAE Assistant Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Tareq Al-Haidan said “the statements attributed by the Washington Times to the UAE Ambassador to the United States Youssef Al-Otaiba are not precise.” In addition, Al-Haiden said:

“The UAE totally rejects the use of force as a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue and rather calls for a solution through political means that are based on the international legitimacy, transparency as well as the need for working, through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on the right of all states to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

The use of force is not the solution, and I am glad that Al-Haidan realizes that. As a diplomat, you cannot just say whatever is on your mind, though . Even discussions held “on the sidelines of an unofficial gathering” will be leaked one way or another, putting diplomatic relations at risk.

  • 25 May 2010
  • Posted By Sanaz Yarvali
  • Diplomacy, Events in Iran, Persian Gulf

Arab FM Blasts Iran’s “Occupation” of Gulf Islands

Last week, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah blasted Iran’s claims of ownership over three islands in the Persian Gulf, comparing the situation to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land:

Occupation of any Arab land is occupation … Israeli occupation of Golan Heights, southern Lebanon, West Bank or Gaza is called occupation and no Arab land is dearer than another.

The Persian Gulf Cooperation Council Ministers have supported the United Arab Emirates claim recently of Iran “occupying” three islands in the Persian Gulf: the Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa.  But Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast says the three islands “are inseparable parts of the Iranian territory.”

The dispute over these islands is nothing new, dating back more than a century to the era of British colonialism.  In 1888, the British Minister confirmed to the Shah of Iran that the islands belong to Iran. Later in 1903-04, when Iran was on the brink of civil war, the Sheikh of Sharjah took the opportunity to claim the islands for himself. The dispute continued throughout the 20th Century, when the islands were formally returned to Iran in November 1971 through a legal procedure that occurred before the creation of the UAE as a state.

Despite Iran and the UAE’s strong trade relations, the two have maintained no formal diplomatic relations since 2008, when Iran installed maritime offices on one of the disputed islands.

The GCC has urged Tehran to engage in direct talks or go to the International Court of Justice to resolve the issue.  The downside of going to the ICJ is that it has no way to enforce its decisions, so whatever the outcome turns out to be, the parties may decide not to abide by the result. Yet this is precisely the sort of international incident that the ICJ was created to resolve.  So one could be forgiven for just wishing the two countries would just grow up and settle their dispute like reasonable members of the international community.

It’s easy to understand why this issue is so vexing for Iran and the UAE: as with so much else it’s all about oil.  These islands more than likely have oil reserves that any country would want to claim for itself.

However, comparing the dispute over the Gulf islands to the Israeli occupation isn’t going to help anyone.  Instead, it will only cause the two parties to dig their heels in further, as their pride and egos get in the way of any real settlement.  But all of this only postpones the inevitable: some day, Iran and the UAE are going to have to act like adults and find a peaceful way to settle this argument.

Until then, they should knock this type of rhetoric off.

  • 10 December 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Legislative Agenda, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

Ros-Lehtinen introduces bill to block UAE nuclear deal over Iran smuggling

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced a bill today (H.R. 7316) blocking a 123 Agreement with the UAE over that country’s shipments of goods to Iran despite current sanctions.

Basically, this bill would prohibit the US from entering into a civilian nuclear agreement with the UAE until it stops shipments of goods, services, and technology to Iran currently under US and UN sanctions.

One passage that stands out in this bill extends the prohibition until the UAE “has developed and implemented the appropriate or necessary legislative and functional actions to target the logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations.”  Huh?

I think it’s safe to assume “logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations” is a convoluted way of saying Iran’s financial and military sectors.  The intentionally vague language here makes it nearly impossible for the UAE ever to satisfy this requirement.

As for the rest of the bill, it’s pretty straightforward–no seriously inflammatory rhetoric toward Iran–just a hard-nosed ultimatum to the UAE: stop going around our Iran sanctions or we won’t send you our high-tech stuff.

And for anyone who paid attention to the US-Russia 123 Agreement from this summer, you’ll notice a popular proposal that surfaced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee: changing the procedure for granting Congressional approval to 123 Agreements.

Under existing rules, the President submits a 123 Agreement to Congress for review.  After 90 days, unless Congress adopts a resolution blocking its entry into force, the agreement is adopted.  This bill would reverse that process, and require explicit Congressional approval for any agreement to be approved.

This is a pretty popular idea, in part because this summer the Bush administration waited too long to submit the Russia deal to Congress and consequently, there weren’t even 90 days left in the term.  It’s pretty clear the old procedure doesn’t make a lot of sense, so look for this bill to get noticed by a HFAC members from both sides of the aisle.

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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