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  • 28 April 2011
  • Posted By David Elliott
  • 0 Comments
  • Human Rights in Iran

NIAC Interview with Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi

At an event hosted by NIAC on Saturday, Nobel Laureate and human rights lawyer Dr. Shirin Ebadi called for international attention on the human rights situation in Iran and warned that war, or threats of an attack on Iran, would be devastating for the country’s indigenous human rights and democracy movement.  But before speaking at the NIAC event in Virginia, Dr. Ebadi gave an exclusive interview with NIAC President Dr. Trita Parsi and Dr. Hazhir Rahmandad, a NIAC member and assistant professor at Virginia Tech.

The interview (in Persian) is below, while our English-only audience can read highlights on NIAC’s website, here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zIPCn6dDaU]

  • 29 September 2010
  • Posted By Setareh Tabatabaie
  • 3 Comments
  • US-Iran War

Military Attack on Iran: A Combination of Ignorance and Naivety

As always, those who talk about what US policy towards Iran should look like, are already prepared for failure of current US policy.

Now Senator Joe Lieberman is preparing to “up the rhetorical ante” on Iran and endorse military actions if sanctions fail

In an excerpt of what his staff has labeled a “major policy address” to be delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations later today, Lieberman states:

It is time to retire our ambiguous mantra about all options remaining on the table. Our message to our friends and enemies in the region needs to become clearer: namely, that we will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability — by peaceful means if we possibly can, but with military force if we absolutely must.

This comes after  Senator Lindsey Graham last week called for direct military intervention for the purpose of regime change in Iran.  “From my point of view,” Graham said, “if we engage in military operations as a last resort, the United States should have in mind the goal of changing the regime…not by invading (Iran), but by launching a military strike by air and sea.”

Obviously, many things come to mind at their proposal: the question of whether or not Iran is even developing nuclear weapons, the mess we have created and left behind in Iraq, and the chaos we find ourselves in in Afghanistan. Even leaving all this aside, however, I am still left confused and bewildered by the increasing call for military action against Iran by some of our nation’s so-called leaders and experts.

Perhaps most dangerous is the effect military strikes would have inside Iran on the prospects for change. Those who advocate a military attack argue that it will lead to a revolution and possible regime change. These idealistic hopes could not be farther from the truth. As Shawn Amoei wrote, “To believe this is to seriously misunderstand nationalism, the Iranian people, and Iranian history.” See the Iran-Iraq War as the perfect example of how the Iranian people will come together, even under an undesirable regime, in the face of foreign invasion.

A military attack will have a detrimental effect on those within the opposition and civil rights movements within Iran, who already fear being tainted by the US. As insideIran.org researcher Shayan Ghajar eloquently explained:

“Foreign attack on Iran would lead to further marginalization of internal opposition movements by the central government, or would cause a surge of nationalism that temporarily erases domestic disputes. O’Hanlon and Riedel agree, saying, “Nor is a strike by an outside power likely to help the cause of Iranian reformists.” … Mir Hossein Moussavi, the most prominent politician in the Green Movement, has repeatedly argued against… “foreign domination.” …Human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, too, opposes any form of military action. Politician Ataollah Mohajerani, who has ties to numerous opposition leaders, said that any attack on Iran would serve only to strengthen the Iranian military and distract the public from their internal divisions.

In other words, rather than fomenting change, a military attack on Iran would do just the opposite.

In the aftermath of the June 2009 presidential elections in Iran, Joe Lieberman said, “We have to do everything we can… to support the people of Iran.” Now, just a little over a year later, he is explicitly endorsing bombing Iran. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.  But  it sounds like Lieberman will be joining his friend Lindsey Graham and assert that they know what’s best for the Iranian people, that Iran’s opposition leaders and human rights defenders are wrong, and that the people of Iran will greet us as liberators.

  • 29 July 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 4 Comments
  • Election 2010, Iran War related legislation

The Republican back door to war with Iran

A game plan to draw the United States into a third war in the Middle East may be quietly unfolding before our eyes.

Late last week, Republicans in the House or Representatives unveiled H.Res.1553, a resolution providing explicit support for an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The measure, introduced by Texas Republican Louie Gohmert and forty-six of his colleagues, endorses Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force”.

“We have got to act,” Gohmert has said in regard to the measure. “We’ve got to get this done. We need to show our support for Israel. We need to quit playing games with this critical ally in such a difficult area.”

But Gohemert’s resolution may be an unprecedented development–Congress has never endorsed pre-emptive military strikes by a foreign country.  What’s more, this is the minority party signaling to Israel that they can count on Republican support should the President object to Israeli strikes on Iran–as did George W. Bush in 2008.  The resolution also explicitly endorses “any means necessary”, a carte blanche for the use of nuclear bunker-busting bombs.

The measure may be overtly political, coming just one week before the Congressional recess in which Members of Congress will return home to their districts to campaign and raise money for the upcoming midterm elections. Democrats and Republicans are in a foot race to demonstrate who can be toughest on Iran. But while Democrats continue to tout newly imposed “crippling” sanctions as evidence of their commitment to pressure, Republicans appear to be moving on to the next phase and are openly endorsing an Israeli strike. Gohmert even argued that instead of sanctions, Congress should have passed his resolution green-lighting military strikes on Iran.

But by encouraging such an attack, supporters of war are effectively working to circumvent the President and his military leadership, who have warned in dire terms against military action in Iran, and instead goading a third country into launching the first strike. Once the bombing campaign has commenced, the authors of this resolution may believe, the US would have few choices but be dragged into war.

In fact, this measure is no small part of a neoconservative agenda to go to war with Iran. The green light resolution is precisely what John Bolton called for two weeks ago in a Wall Street Journal piece that reads as a playbook for dragging the US into military conflict with Iran.

Bolton lays out a game plan in which Congress can “reassure” Israel in order to make a military strike possible. He argued that with “visible congressional support in place”, the President’s concerns about an Israeli strike can be short-circuited.

Some of the resolution’s supporters, like Michelle Bachmann, face tough re-election bids this November and are looking for more red meat to throw the hawks that make up their base.

Bachmann, who for years supported budget-busting foreign wars under George W. Bush, is now the leader of the deficit-obsessed Tea Party Caucus. The caucus has yet to produce a policy paper outlining a plan for a budget-neutral war with Iran.

Others, such as Congressman Dan Burton–now the top Republican on the House Middle East Subcommittee–would hold important leadership positions to shape Iran policy were Republicans able to regain the majority this November.

But by endorsing military strikes, supporters of H.Res.1553 are playing games with US national security and could provoke the US into a third war in the Middle East.

By couching the resolution’s endorsement of bombing Iran as an issue of Israel’s right to self defense–an area that is sacrosanct for many in Congress–supporters of war are framing the question as one of support for Israel rather than the numerous other messy questions that one might want to answer before endorsing military strikes. Will this engulf the Middle East in a “destabilizing” (General Petraeus), “cataclysmic” (Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen) regional war? Will military strikes even stop Iran’s nuclear program? Or will they merely set the program back, convince Iran to leave the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, and guarantee that Iran aggressively pursues a nuclear deterrent?

The resolution does not go into the murky details of how devastating a military strike on Iran would be to the US and Israel, not to mention the civilian death toll in Iran, the collapse of Iran’s democratic opposition movement, and the consolidation of popular support by Iran’s now-disputed government.

It doesn’t take into account the dire warnings from US military leadership who have consistently expressed serious concerns about any military options.

But it does give House Republican supporters an opportunity to pretend that they are more concerned about national security and allow them to burnish faux pro-Israel credentials. In some districts, this will play quite well in November.

There are serious consequences for this transparent ploy. A Congressional green light for military strikes is not just politics; it could significantly alter perceptions for those in Israel pressing for strikes and undercut efforts by the President and US military leadership to protect against such impulses.

There is a reason Louie Gohmert is not President, Michelle Bachmann is not the Secretary of Defense,  and that the Tea Party does not comprise the Joint Chiefs. But the scary thing is that this resolution, just by being introduced, may very well represent one step forward towards the US being dragged into a war with Iran.

War with Iran will seem farfetched until it is a fait accompli.

Originally Posted at Foreign Policy Magazine’s Middle East Channel

  • 23 July 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 1 Comments
  • Iran War related legislation, Legislative Agenda, US-Iran War

Resolution Green-Lighting Israeli Strikes on Iran Introduced by House Republicans

Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a measure that would green-light an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The resolution, H.Res. 1553, provides explicit support for military strikes against Iran, stating that Congress supports Israel’s use of “all means necessary” against Iran “including the use of military force”. US military leaders have warned that strikes could be catastrophic to US national security interests and could engulf the Middle East in a “calamitous” regional war.

Nearly a third of House Republicans have signed onto the resolution, which has been publicly discussed and circulated by its lead sponsor, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), for months. The National Iranian American Council is leading calls to oppose the measure, urging those concerned to demand that House Republican Leader John Boehner denounce the resolution.

The introduction of the measure coincides with a pattern of renewed calls for military strikes that have escalated since President Obama signed “crippling” Congressional Iran sanctions into law. Neoconservatives who were instrumental in orchestrating the Iraq War, such as Bill Kristol, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, have led the stepped up calls for military action.

Hawkish former Bush Administration official John Bolton recently laid out the game plan to prod Israel into attacking Iran, arguing that outsiders can “create broad support” for a strike by framing it as an issue of Israel’s right to self defense. Supporters for military strikes, Bolton says, should “defend the specific tactic of pre-emptive attacks” against Iran. He urges that Congress can “make it clear” that it supports such strikes and that “having visible congressional support in place at the outset will reassure the Israeli government, which is legitimately concerned about Mr. Obama’s likely negative reaction to such an attack.”

In spite of enthusiasm from the neocons, top US military leaders have warned of the many dangers of military strikes against Iran. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has argued, “Another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need. In fact, I believe it would be disastrous on a number of levels.” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has expressed his own serious reservations about an attack, stating, “Iran getting a nuclear weapon would be incredibly destabilizing. Attacking them would also create the same kind of outcome. In an area that’s so unstable right now, we just don’t need more of that.” General David Petraeus has warned that a strike on Iran would be utilized by the Iranian government to unite it’s otherwise divided populace.

Simulations have been conducted over the past year to assess the outcome of a preemptive military strike against Iran. One such simulation, by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, found that strikes would draw the US into the conflict that would engulf the region into war, and would enable Iran to use the attacks as an opportunity to unite the Iranian people and dismantle its opposition. The simulation also found that the strikes could not destroy Iran’s nuclear program but merely set it back a few years.

An Oxford Research Group report released recently reinforced those findings and also warned that an Israeli attack would be disastrous and would be unlikely to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Instead, the report concluded attacks could convince Iran to withdraw from the international Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to aggressively seek to develop nuclear weapons.

Iranian activists have urged that even raising the specter of war undercuts the opposition in Iran. “The mere fact that Obama didn’t make military threats made the Green Movement possible,” noted Akbar Ganji. “A military attack would destroy all of that.”

Send your letter demanding that House Republican Leader John Boehner denounce the Iran War Resolution

This post originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

  • 19 July 2010
  • Posted By Shawn Amoei
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Israel, US-Iran War

New Report: War Not an Option in Dealing with Iran

A new report by the Oxford Research Group (ORG), an independent UK based non-governmental organization, maps out the growing risk of an Israeli military strike on Iran and the devastating consequences that could lead to a long, protracted war. The report, authored by Professor Paul Rogers, warns that an Israeli attack “would be unlikely to prevent the eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran and might even encourage it.”

With talk of the military option against Iran back on the table, the consequences of such an attack are being assessed more and more carefully. The report indicates that a military attack would cause many civilian casualties in Iran, which would be met with a response that could bog down the United States in a protracted regional war. While considerable damage can be done to Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, it would increase political unity and strengthen the Ahmadinejad government.

An attack on Iran by Israel — a non-signatory to the NPT — would almost certainly lead the Iranians to withdraw from the treaty, and send a message to the international community that by staying out of the NPT you have more benefits then by joining.

Advocates of military strikes must ask themselves what they are going to do the day after an attack. Those who cannot answer that question should not consider the military option. Even implicit or explicit threats of war tend to be counterproductive, especially with Iran, as they make a possible accommodation more difficult.

The report indicates that an attack would surely extend the shelf life of the regime and should be firmly ruled out while alternative strategies must be pursued. The military option would set in motion a complex and long-lasting confrontation and “the consequences of a military attack on Iran are so serious that they should not be encouraged in any shape or form. However difficult, other ways must be found to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis.”

The report suggests that after the first strike comes the deluge, and the genie won’t be put back in the bottle. Iran would likely withdraw from the NPT, develop nuclear weapons to deter further attacks, set off a series of actions aimed at Israel and the United States, spark regional war, and cause a sharp rise in oil prices. As Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates recently warned, “If we attack Iran, our grandchildren will have to fight the jihadists here at home.”

The report warns that strikes will not solve the nuclear issue, and “put bluntly, war is not an option in responding to the difficult issue of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”

  • 26 April 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 5 Comments
  • Congress, Sanctions, Uncategorized, US-Iran War

Laying the Groundwork for an Iran war

On Friday, the Christian Scientist Monitor published what may be the first mainstream editorial linking the push for “crippling sanctions” against Iran as laying the groundwork for war with Iran.

From “Sanctions on Iran’s gasoline imports? That’s war talk.”:

In this post-9/11 age, the idea of preemptive war against a terrorist-prone country supposedly went out of favor after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

Yet Congress is now pushing President Obama toward steps that could easily be interpreted as an act of war against Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The House and Senate are moving quickly on a bill to force US sanctions on the sale of gasoline to the Islamic Republic of Iran. In theory, the measure would only punish US and foreign companies that export refined oil products to Iran which, despite being a major exporter of petroleum, lacks sufficient oil refineries.

But there’s a big problem: The only way to really enforce such a crippling sanction against the Iranian economy would be through an American-led naval blockade which, by international law, is an act of war.

Meanwhile, the Zionist Organization of America(ZOA) issued a press release this past Friday announcing that, having spent several years lobbying for gasoline sanctions as “the first step”, now that those sanctions are moving forward, they are beginning to lobby Congress on the next step: war.

“Hundreds Of ZOA Activists On Capitol Hill Saying: Crippling Sanctions On Iran & Stop Pressuring Israel”:

Hundreds of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) activists from 19 states, including dozens of students, took part in ZOA’s annual activist Mission to Washington, D.C., on April 21 to urge Members of Congress to support  legislation for immediately imposing new, robust sanctions upon Iran and enforcing the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 as the first step to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. Mission activists urged the necessity of military action should peaceful, diplomatic measures fail to stop Iran’s drive to obtain a nuclear weapons capability…

That hawkish organizations support possible war with Iran is not news.  But the fact that organizations are openly lobbying Congress on this point means a new but all too  familiar threshold is now being crossed.

  • 26 March 2010
  • Posted By Layla Armeen
  • 4 Comments
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran, Iran Election 2009

Reporting for Duty?

Hossein Yekta, a high ranking member of the Basij militia and a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war, said this week that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already declared “war,” but “no one is reporting for duty.”

Raja News, one of the most hard line news agencies in Iran reported that Yekta tells student Basijis to get into war formation because the war has already started, and it started in the universities.

“There is only one person in the country that can declare war, and that is the Supreme Commander of All Armed Forces. Only two times has there been a declaration of war in the Islamic Republic. Once in the eve of September 22, 1980, and the other was just a while back when “Agha” declared war on a full scale cultural attack that was launched against us.”

A friend of mine once told me that there are three social phenomena that can each change an entire generation: revolution, war, and mass immigration.  Those who experience these events are bound to have radically different perspectives than the generation that follows them, which is precisely what happened in Iran.  The generation that brought about the revolution all of a sudden found itself in a war with Iraq a year after taking power, and that war along with the revolution itself produced a mass immigration effect.

Today, many of the hard-liners in the Islamic Republic are the ones who obviously didn’t emigrate out of the country. They participated in the revolution, and many of them fought in the Iran-Iraq war. A generation with noble deeds in mind that is finding it harder and harder every day to re-gain the respect that it once had in the society. This generation’s mindset is still in the revolutionary days of Iran.  But that doesn’t sit well with the young and vibrant generation – a Green generation – that now makes up the majority of the Iranian population.  This new generation has no memory of the revolution, nor of the eight-year war that devastated the country in so many different ways.

The hard-liners view national policy like it’s a battle on the front-lines; as it was when they were in Khoramshahr, Talaieyeh, Majnoon Shahr and other border cities in which they fought.  They were celebrated in the ’80s for their courage, but the war is over. It was over twenty years ago.

Iranians today are hearing the war rhetoric getting louder and louder after last year’s disputed presidential election. The hard-liners realize that the youth do not relate to their values, so they think they must be supported by foreign elements. That is the reason why the establishment refers to its domestic struggle as a war, a “soft war.”

I think about what my friend said, and I think about it a lot. I agree with him that the first decade of the Islamic Republic did change an entire generation of Iranians; but I also believe that they will have to reconcile with the changing times one way or another.  I believe the new generation – the Green generation – will shun this “war” ideology, regardless of how loudly the establishment trumpets it.

The signs are already there: “no one is reporting for duty.”

  • 4 February 2010
  • Posted By Jamal Abdi
  • 4 Comments
  • US-Iran War

Deja Vu All Over Again

On the heels of last week’s testimony by Tony Blair before Britain’s Chilcot panel regarding the Iraq war, Seumas Milne discusses in the Guardian yesterday the parallels between the 2002 run up to war with Iraq and the current escalation in rhetoric and military forces aimed at Iran .

In his column, “The lessons of Iraq have been ignored. The target is now Iran”, Milne writes, “We were ­supposed to have learned the lessons of the Iraq war. That’s what Britain’s ­Chilcot inquiry is meant to be all about. But the signs from the Middle East are that it could be happening all over again.”

He goes on to compare the current Iran rhetoric and George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech, and analyzes the recent US announcement that it is “boosting its naval presence and supplying tens of billions of dollars’ worth of new weapons systems to allied Arab states.  The target is of course Iran.”

“In case anyone missed the parallels, Tony Blair hammered them home at the Iraq inquiry last Friday.” Milne writes, “Far from showing remorse about the bloodshed he helped unleash on the Iraqi people, the former prime minister was allowed to turn what was supposed to be a grilling into a platform for war against Iran. “

Tony Blair isn’t the only one who has apparently learned little from the lessons of Iraq.  In Daniel Pipes’ February 2 piece in the National Review, “How to Save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran”, Pipes offers the Obama Administration some free political advice: “He needs a dramatic gesture to change the public perception of him,” Pipes writes.  The answer to Obama’s political difficulties?  Bomb Iran.

Pipes states that such an attack would be “more politically palatable” because it would be limited to aerial strikes and thus “would require few ‘boots on the ground’ and entail relatively few casualties”.  No mention, however, of the Pentagon’s broadly accepted assessment that such strikes would not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program and would play into the hands of Iran’s government as it attempts to fight a growing popular uprising.

Like any good political strategist, instead of making the case that starting a war with Iran is good policy, Pipes argues that its good politics—he even supports his argument with polling data.  The cynicism in Pipes’ argument is underlined when he compares his proposed new war with Iran to 9/11, noting that the most deadly terrorist attacks on US soil were a political boon that “caused voters to forget George W. Bush’s meandering early months”—just think what bombing Iran could do for President Obama’s poll numbers.

“If Obama’s personality, identity, and celebrity captivated a majority of the American electorate in 2008, those qualities proved ruefully deficient for governing in 2009.”  So in Pipes’ world, “bomb, bomb Iran” is new “Yes we can”.

  • 30 November 2009
  • Posted By NIAC
  • 0 Comments
  • Diplomacy, Sanctions, US-Iran War

Washington Can Give An Israeli Attack On Iran The Red Light

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post:

Only a few weeks after US-Iran diplomacy began in earnest, it seems to be heading towards a premature ending. Rather than tensions reduction, the world has witnessed the opposite. Iran is refusing to accept a fuel swap deal brokered by the IAEA, the IAEA has passed a resolution rebuking Iran, and Tehran has responded by approving a plan to build ten more nuclear facilities.

With the potential end of at least this phase of diplomacy, fears of a disastrous Israeli attack on Iran are on the rise once more. But contrary to Washington’s official line, America is capable of preventing Israel from initiating a war that would further destabilize the Middle East.

Four reasons why talking is a good idea

Amid the historic first rounds of talks between the Islamic Republic and the United States, there have been a number of small, but significant developments that would not have happened otherwise.

1. Iran frees Maziar Bahari, grants Swiss access to US hikers – Just prior to today’s talks in Vienna, Iran released Iranian-Canadian reporter Maziar Bahari from prison.  The Newsweek reporter had been held since June 21.  Also just prior to the previous round of talks in Geneva, Iran granted access to a Swiss emissary to visit the detained US hikers in Tehran. (We should be cautious, so as not to allow Iran to repeat its history from the 1980’s in Lebanon where it would release a hostage or two, simply to nab a handful more to take their place as a bargaining chip.  Iran also still has a long way to go to make up for its political persecutions in the wake of its election, but these are two small steps forward, and there should be many more.)

2. The US unequivocally condemns terrorism against Iran – This weekend, a suicide bomber killed at least five IRGC commanders.  The news was met immediately with a stern condemnation from the US State Department, as well as an emphatic denial of involvement.  (Many have suspicions that the US has continued its support of the Sunni Baluchi terrorist organization known as Jundallah, even under the Obama administration). But at its core, the Obama administration condemned an act of terrorism.  Of course, there are those who are outraged that Obama would condemn a terrorist act targeted at the Iranian government.  But anyone with any common sense would call those people ridiculous.

3. Talking delays sanctions, which forestalls war – Although it is a gross oversimplification of things, international disputes evolve in stages: first is diplomacy, then sanctions, then war.  So long as two sides continue to talk (absent a total breakdown), there is less need for imposing new sanctions.  Only when the talking stops is there a real danger of bombs falling.

4. Prospects for a nuclear deal – This part remains to be seen, but simply by virtue of these talks, there is a very high likelihood that in the near future, Iran will ship its stockpile of low-enriched uranium out of the country for fabrication into reactor fuel.  That will make an Iranian nuclear weapons breakout scenario much more remote.  And that is a good thing, no matter what.

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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