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The Persian Gulf

By Mehrangiz Kar (source: Rooz Online)

Neither the allies of the US nor any world power has the authority under international law, custom or ethics to unilaterally impose itself on the US navy and change the name of the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Gulf.

Speaking about the change in the name of the Persian Gulf, sources close to the US Navy recently told a BBC reporter, "This decision was made because US allies in the region generally and in their official correspondence use the term Arabian Gulf and we have stopped using the term Persian Gulf in order to be in line with them and will now be using the term the Arabian Gulf."

Can the geography of the world be changed so easily? If for whatever reason Iran is not an ally of the US, does the US military have the right to change geographic names and in this way punish Iran? Is this chastisement, which is in fact weights in support for the regional Arab states, aimed at relaxing the tensions or exacerbating them? Is this aimed at safeguarding the US national interest or weakening Iran's? If the purpose of this is to target Iran's foreign policy, do they (US) realize that this is in fact a national Iranian issue, not limited to its government? Iranian foreign policy makers may not only not become furious over this, they may even use this to legitimize their view of US's permanent antagonism with Iran.

This intervention into the geography of the world is to the detriment of the Iranian national pride and hurts every person whose identity is linked to Iran. This propels him to condemn the US as an enemy of its history and geography, regardless of whether the Iranian regime is an ally of the US or not. This is a serious issue and has perhaps been created to regain the respect of some of the Arab leaders who in the recent Wikileaks documents have been promoting the idea of militarily striking Iran. This is a pro-Arab measure which Iranians will not accept.

To say that the Persian Gulf is Arabian is not a simple matter. It will preoccupy every Iranian, regardless of affiliation, to such an extent that together they will forget the errors of the policies of the regime in Tehran. Nations have pride and honor which do not dissipate easily. There may be a view in private circles that this name-change is justified because the Iranian people cannot force their government to be an ally of the US, but the psychology of a nation says something else. While the majority of Iranians may interpret the change in the name of the Persian Gulf by the US navy to be a result of the harmful behavior of the Iranian regime, and it is also true that many Iranians are rightfully hurt because of the announced results of last year's presidential elections, but an attack on geographic names is clearly the beginning of an assault on the territorial integrity of Iran which is incomprehensible and very disturbing.

There seems to be a difference of opinion in the US government on this issue. The White House uses the term Persian Gulf in its official correspondence and the State Department has said that it will continue to use the Persian Gulf as well as the right term in its official correspondence. So the question is how this difference can be used to convince the US government that this change in name is not in the interests of the US in the region, and that in fact it hurts it. Iranian groups that have embarked to lobby the US government on the issue, which can to some extent influence the decision of the administration, must inform the moderate and extremist elements of the US government of the negative impact of this name-change and where US interests lie. Hopefully this issue can be resolved before it has become finalized and official and thus prevent the tensions between the US and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from turning into friction between the Iranian people and the US government. Such a change in the battle will bring the Iranian people into the battlefield, and will eventually be in the interest of the extremists ruling Iran and to the detriment of US national interest. Unless one believes that US interests in fact lie in perpetuating the extremist regime in Iran, something that I do not believe to be true.

The impact and future of this name-change decision is not clear. The recent Wikileaks revelations have worsened the relations between Iran and the Arabs, even though Ahmadinejad cleverly brushed the issue aside. Still, It is clear that the issue is much more serious and that if no miracle takes place, Shiite and Sunni brothers will soon change the current situation in the region. They will clash with each other. Changing the name of the Persian Gulf is just one test that is imposed on this unhealthy region. If Iranians do not successfully intervene culturally through international organizations involved in the geography of this region, the term Iran itself will come under threat in the current geography of the world and there will be no Iran left for us to work to change its order.

What responsibility has history bestowed on Iranians today? On one hand it is not clear what the future holds for the country, while on the other new challenges are rising. This latest responsibility to confront the change in the name of the Persian Gulf by the US Navy is a tough one. A nation engulfed in all kinds of domestic issues and threatened with bombs and missiles is now suddenly called upon to confront a power that unilaterally determines the names of its homes and forums. Where is fairness and what must Iranian do so that their basic rights are respected by their own government and so that their geographic rights are respected by world powers? How much energy and how much psychological power is needed stay sane in these various battles to endure repeated international blows?

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