Wednesday, December 22, 2004

THE PERSIAN GULF IS THE PERSIAN GULF

by: Dr. Assad Homayoun, former career diplomat, now
President of Azadegan Foundation, Senior Fellow of the International
Strategic Studies Association, and Member of the Board of Directors
and Advisors of the World Tribune


"Where is this ship of government heading? In this sea of mishaps,
are we facing any perils or not? If we are, how are we prepared for
it? What is our plan? Who is our enemy? Where are our friends?.-The
ship of government lacking any scheme, design or plan, is perplexed
and errant in the sea of politics."- Mirza Malkum Khan Nazem Od-Dowleh
(1860's)

Historical facts are known and self-evident. Throughout the years, a
few of Iran's neighboring countries have claimed many of Iran's men
of sciences and letters as their own. Sadly enough, now there is yet
a new vain attempt to re-name that body of water which for several millennia
has been universally known as the "Persian Gulf' to the "Arabian
Gulf'.There are those who are unaware of the historical truths and while
they do not bother to study the history of the region, they unintentionally
contribute to a psychological warfare against the Iranian people. Among
them, are certain elements in the U.S.

Defense Department, especially those who serve in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait
and Bahrain. In order to appease local sensitivities, "they"
use "Arabian Gulf" instead of the "Persian Gulf' simply
to please their hosts, unaware that they are refusing to accept historical
facts and international usage. Indeed they are offending the national
feelings of the Iranian nation.The ancient Greek geographers and historians
called this body of water "Sinus Persicus". It is interesting
that since before the time of Christ until as late as the 17" century,
the world greatest historians and c artographer s from Strabon and Ptolemy
to famous Flemish geographer, Mercator, along with Arab historians referred
to the Gulf south of Iran as either "Sinus Persicus" or "
Mare Persicum", as distinct from "Arabicus Sinus", the
name they used to refer to what is known as the Red Sea.The "Arabian
Gulf' was the ancient name of the Red Sea, actually a gulf prior to
being connected with the Mediterranean via the opening of the Suez Canal.
For the last two millennia the term "Persian Gulf' has been used
universally by historians, geographers, scholars, strategists and politicians.
Also Arab historians and geographers from Ibn al-Mujawir to Yusuf Kamal,
author of "Monumenta Cartographica", used "AlKhalij al-Fars",
or Persian Gulf. The late president Sadat of Egypt, in his book, "Revolt
on the Nile", correctly identified the Gulf by its historical and
original name. Anyone who has troubled himself to look at antique maps,
contemporary writings and research documents, historical accounts of
the region and encyclopedias written either by western or eastern observers
and scholars would conclude that there is but one single name that is
applicable to the Persian Gulf. It is the practice of the White House,
the State Department, the U.S. government agencies and also the United
Nations Secretariat, and National Geographic Society, to use in the
document and maps the term "Persian Gulf"to indicate the body
of water between Iran to the north and east and a number of other states
to the south and west. It is a long established usage that is followed
by publishers of atlases and geographical dictionaries.

It was in the 1950s that and in order to manipulate the simple yet vital
nationalistic sentiment of its people, that the then Iraqi president
Colonel Abdol Karim Ghasem, ventured to refer to the "Persian Gulf',
as the "Arabian Gulf'. His intention was to create a new common
enemy for the Arab world which were busy fighting Israel under the guidance
of Egyptian Colonel , Gamal Abdol Nasser, and to divert the attention
of Arab world from Nasser's leadership in Egypt to his own in Baghdad.
This strategy back-fired in the true sense of the word The scholastic
community in Baghdad as a whole, and the faculty in the Baghdad University,
especially due to overwhelming amount of historic and geographical evidence,
reaching back to records as ancient as 2.5 millennia, refrained from
supporting the belligerent and the unfounded claim of Colonel Abdol
Krim Ghasem.Even later, when President Gamal Abdol Nasser under the
pretext of enhancing his Pan-Arabist ideology proceeded to use Ghasem's
self-invented term for the "Persian Gulf', he was instantly reminded
of his own earlier comments wherein he had emphatically described the
boundaries of the Arab World as: "Menal Moheet al-Atlasi elal Khalij-ol
Farsi " (from Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf)As mentioned before,
throughout history, educators, historians, travelers and geographers
have always referred to this region as the "Persian Gulf"not
only because of the vast coastal lines of various Persian Empire or
the number of its Persian/Iranian inhabitants, but simply, and in their
own words, to recognize the noble notion that, "The Persians were
the first to have developed and greatly improved this part of the earth"

Therefore, to apply the term "Arabian Gulf' or any other name to
the Persian Gulf is an error, and indeed is to become a party to the
psychological warfare mainly aimed against the Iranian people. Thus,
this change of historical name, especially by some in the service of
the U. S. government who are serving in the region is entirely absurd,
counterproductive, and does not serve the interests of the United States.We
can hope that sooner or later, the rule of reason and rationalism will
triumph in Iran and liberty and democracy will replace the Theocratic
regime in Tehran. Iranians and Arab must live together in peace. The
Untied States and the Arab nations of the region need to deal with the
people of Iran, in a just and equitable manner, just as the Iranians
need to deal similarly with their neighbors. Furthermore Iran must reestablish
friendly relationship with the United States on the basis of mutual
trust and equality. The U.S. Department of Defense and especially the
Navy which always take geo-strategic factors into consideration, must
also take seriously the historic sensitivity and the rightful concerns
of the Iranian people.

It should be remembered that for three decades prior to the revolution
in Iran, the Pentagon trained close to 30,000 members of Iranian Armed
Forces and considered Iran a principal element of the regions stability.
It ought not forget the past and close the door to future friendly relationships
which will indeed be essential for stability and peace in the Persian
Gulf. It should be remembered also that the Iranian Navy played a crucial
role as the stabilizer for two decades following the British withdrawal
from the Persian Gulf in 1971. Indeed it was the Iranian Armed Forces
which defended both north and south of the Strait of Honnuz against
Marxist subversion. On one hand it prevented the fall of Oman, and on


the other hand thwarted the Yemeni inspired guerrillas to undermine
the Persian Gulf Sheikdoms.Iran is a land bridge between two centers
of the world's most important energy zones, and the only power among
the Persian Gulf states that has the capability to undertake military
operation beyond its own frontiers. Iran is in the heart of the Eurasian
Corridor. Because of its geo-strategic location, population, resources
and cultural identity it can play a decisive role in the security of
the Persian Gulf.. Iran was once a moderating force and it could, once
again become a moderate regional force, friendly to the United States.For
more information and clarification we would like to refer the readers
to following publications mostly written by historians, geographers
and scholars regarding the Persian Gulf. We are certain that only through
rational channels we can shed light on and sort historical facts from
baseless propaganda, which were at one time aimed to toy with the territorial
integrity of Iran, albeit currently being directed in reaction to the
short-sighted policies and irresponsible political behavior of the ruling
clerical regime of Tehran.


1) Revolt On The Nile, Anwar Sadat, John Day Inc. New York, 1957


2) Monumenta Cartographica et Aegypti ( Le Caire), Yusuf Kamal, 1926-51.


3) Geographie, De Strabon, Paris, 1805


4) Historical Geography of Iraq, Mohammad Rashid, Baghdad University,
1965


5) Science and Civilization of China, J. Needham, Cambridge University
Press, 1959


6) The Past History of Arabs and Islam, Omar Abdol-Nasr, Beirut, 1962


7)Political History of Islam, Dr. Hassan Ibrahim Hassan. Cairo, 1935




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