This op-ed was written for PoliGazette by Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari
Who Backs Persian Gulf’s Name Distortion?
By Kourosh Ziabari
According to UN regulations for the standardization of geographical places names, any attempt to alter or distort a historical registered name is denied and branded as “unlawful’.
Every city, province, island, river, strait, mountain and gulf enjoys a special, exclusive name and each name narrates a story about the origins and history of its owner.
For example, the phrase “Indian ocean” tells us that the southeastern region of Asia was under the domination of Indian empire historically, or the name “Caspian sea” describes that the main inhabitants of Southern Russian and northern Iran region were the ancient tribe of “Caspi” historically.
This shows that the originality and unity of geographical names must be kept and dispersion is not acceptable in this matter.
Let’s give a simple example. My name is Kourosh, but what happens if each of my friends decide to call me by his desired name? Maybe I would get 20 names if I had 20 friends, and clearly it is neither logical nor practical.
In an upper level, imagine that we assign two or three names to every country and request of the media and people to call these destinations by all of the assigned names, or that the different states designate their arbitrary name to the neighboring countries. In this case, we would have a world with 200 countries and thousands of names for them. Would be the world livable in such circumstances?
However, I propounded all of the above topics to mention about a critical issue which is offending the international community these days, the project of Persian Gulf’s name distortion.
According to the legal and historical evidences, the body water which separates Iran from the Arabian Peninsula is known as Persian Gulf since the ancient eras until now, lacking any synonym or alternative name. This name has been used in historical maps, articles and epilogues for more than 1 million times, a most prominent of them belonging to the Greek Herodotus.
The Greek historian in his book -History of Herodotus, 440 B.C- has repeatedly mentioned the term “Sinus Persicus” which is a Latin form of “Persian Gulf”, meanwhile he emphasized that the “Arabian Gulf” is a historical name which stands for the today’s “Red Sea”.
Additionally, we find the term “Persian Gulf” referring to the body water separating the plateau of Persia from the Arabian Peninsula in the books and maps of numerous Arabian voyagers and scholars including Ibn-e-Battuta.
Regarding the history of Persian Empire which dates back to 5000 B.C and known as one of the first civilizations in the world’s booked history, Persian Gulf, Caspian Sea and the Gulf of Iran which is currently referred as the “Gulf of Oman” were all under the sovereignty of Persia, a great monarchy which was consisted of various states such as Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Emirates, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Armenia and Parts of India.
All of these states separated from Iran during the past millennium and shaped their own, independent governments, the latest of them was UAE which toke independence from Iran in the year 1971.
However, I am not looking to bother you by substantiating the historical and scientific legitimacy of Persian Gulf’s name. Everybody knows that Persian Gulf is a simple geographical name like the other names for seas, gulfs, rivers and cities in the world and it is impossible to rename it.
But it matters to us to find out why the mischievous actions are just being taken to counterfeit the name of “Persian Gulf” among the thousands of geographical names in five continents around the world. Why the name of “Mexican Gulf’ is not under the threat of distortion? Why is the Persian Gulf region so important that Arab states and Israel agreed to lobby for dominance over and distort its name? How much is the distortion project linked to the political purposes and who is really charging and backing this project from outside?
We know well that the western pressure is increasing on Iran over its nuclear program and the US-allies impose media pressure and economic sanctions on the country to halt its nuclear researches and projects, in the other hand they also know that 3 UN members have never signed NPT and currently holding their own nuclear arsenals to deposit military warheads, but no serious steps is taken for their disarmament and stopping them from pursuing genocide weapons.
Some of the Iranian journalists and cultural activists believe that the efforts to alter the name of Persian Gulf in the media and political figure’s speeches are taking place with the goal of enfeebling the wills of Iranian nation about the nuclear program although the west knows that Iran is facing electricity shortage.
Referring to the 2001 edition of world-renowned magazine National Geography, the Iranian media and people claim that it was dubious and skeptical that an American magazine altered the name of Persian Gulf for the first time which was followed by the English and Israeli magazines later.
Iranians link the slyness of forging Persian Gulf’s name with the western pressures on Iran to suspend its nuclear programs after it came out that military threats, media black propaganda and economic sanctions are inefficient. They believe that the Arabian and Western media altering the name of Persian Gulf are abusing of Iranian’s sensitivity about the cultural heritages and historical treasures.
But in the contrary, some of the Iranian newspapers and journalists wrote in their reports right after the National Geography scandal that the hostile action of removing the name of Persian Gulf and replacing it with a forged term was not a part of US policies. It was simply a result of Arab states paying bribery to the American media.
They have also published articles revealing the Google Earth managers had some financial affairs with Arab statesmen to change the name of Persian Gulf in their new publishing maps.
Eventually, regarding all of the aspects and dimensions described above, altering a historical name would not exclusively lead to the desired political results. It would cause irretrievable damages to the history of science and the efforts of geographers, archaeologists and voyagers.
Alongside all of the world’s historical sites and places, Persian Gulf belongs to the ancient times and must be protected for the next generations.
Neglecting the historical facts and ignoring geographical documentations to reach some political purposes is the worst type of altercation with a nation that is notable globally for its peacemaking and cultural background.
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