Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Its the Persian Gulf stupid

Following on from my recent piece on Iran I have come across something interesting that demonstrates Iranian nationalism and sense of grievance Iran feels at not being shown the respect it says it deserves. In November 2004, National Geographic published a new edition of their World Atlas in which they labeled the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. Big mistake. Although Arabs and Persians have been fighting over the region for thousands of years, the latest installment of which being the 8 year Iran Iraq war in the 1980s, it has long been accepted that the official name of the Middle East shipping lane is the Persian Gulf.

And now even google earth has got in on the insult

So when the National Geographic published its Arabian Gulf edition it resulted in the wrath of Iranians world wide. From wealthy American Iranians to the Mullahs of Qom, from exiled Marxists to revolutionary guards, all Iranians were briefly united in their condemnation of Persia's enemies in the national geographic. One enterprising young individual of Iranian decent who worked for google even got in on the act. Still today if you google the words Arabian Gulf you will be met with a firm rebuttal about the existence of such a thing. Try it and click the "what is this page" link to receive an explanation. Such was the uproar that the National Geographic were forced into a u-turn.

So what point am I making here. Well very little to be honest. But I think this episode does illustrate Iranian pride and how ignoring it or trivialising it does does genuinely harm relations between Iran and the west.Obama's strategy of treating Iran as more mainstream nation rather than a rogue state may well succeed in convincing Tehran to respond positively to Washington's olive branch.

No comments: