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Madam Secretary, the Name is the Persian Gulf

04 Mar 2009 14:138 Comments
1Source: The AP Stylebook dictates proper name usage.
By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

The State Department statement was relatively brief: "The Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham Clinton] is pleased to announce the appointment of Dennis B. Ross to the position of Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for The Gulf and Southeast Asia." Which "Gulf?" Gulf of Mexico? Gulf of Aqaba? Gulf of Tonkin? Gulf of Aden? Gulf of Carpenteria? There are so many of them!

We read on. "This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict, terror, proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law." Oh! That Gulf.

Well, Madam Secretary, you need first and foremost an advisor on history because, given his long history of bias toward Iran, in addition to be totally unfit for the job, your advisor and "expert," Dennis Ross, does not know the history of that region. The name of that Gulf is the Persian Gulf, nothing less, nothing more. It has been that way since at least 330 B.C., when the Achaemenid Empire established the first Persian Empire in Pars (or Persis, the region which is called Fars in present day Iran) in the southwestern region of Iran. After that historical event, Greek -- not Iranian -- sources started calling the body of water that bordered this region the Persian Gulf. It has stayed that way ever since.

In his 1928 book, A Periplus of the Persian Gulf, Sir Arnold Talbot Wilson, the British civil commissioner in Iraq from 1918-1920, stated that,

No water channel has been so significant as Persian Gulf to the geologists, archaeologists, geographer, merchants, politicians, excursionists, and scholars whether in past or in present. This water channel which separates the Iran Plateau from the Arabia Plate has enjoyed an Iranian identity since at least 2200 years ago.

Madam Secretary, I know that the United States and its allies import significant amount of oil from the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. I know that the U.S. supports the corrupt and dictatorial Arab regimes there, because they protect what is perceived as the vital interests of the United States (although those regimes are the main culprit in the rise of al-Qaeda). I also know that these nations are spending tens of billions of dollars to buy weapons from the United States -- weapons they neither need, nor will ever be able to use -- and that the U.S. nuclear industry is going to make billions more by selling nuclear reactors to Bahrain and other Arab nations in that region (but not, of course, to Iran). Therefore, the new and changed State Department -- just like the old ones -- wants to appease these regimes, and avoid doing anything that would offend their rulers. I know all of that.

But, Madam Secretary, all such considerations do not, and cannot, change the history of that region. The 990 km long body of water that starts from Arvand Rud that carries the waters of Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and ends at Strait of Hormuz -- another Iranian name, recognized internationally -- that connects it to the Oman Sea, has always been, and will always be, the Persian Gulf. This has been recognized internationally. Nothing, and least of all the billions and trillions of the corrupt Arab rulers, can change that. If your advisors do not know that, or are not willing to tell you that, then, you need new advisors. To be successful in your efforts in that region, the first thing you need to know is the region's history.

Madam Secretary, President Obama has said that the U.S. talks with Iran must be built on mutual respect. One good place to start showing this respect toward Iran and Iranians is calling that historical body of water what it has always been called, the Persian Gulf.

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8 Comments

I think that there are more important issues to be dealt with, rather than dwell on whether to call it the Persian Gulf, Arabian Gulf, or just plain Gulf!

Rasheed's World / February 28, 2009 4:13 PM

It matters to me and I thank you for your article.The earliest reference to Persian Gulf that we know dates back to 500 BCE from the Greek Hecataeus calling it: 'Persiko Kolpos' or Persian Gulf. The ancient Greek record is no longer available but has been preserved in the work of a later writer, Stephen of Byzantium.

A. J. Cave / March 4, 2009 7:20 PM

The problem is that the 95/100 of American US citizens they don't have a notion of geographic out of US or the country's they have made a war every generation since his independence 2 hundred plus years ago. Once a friend of mine (USA of course) ask me... "Spain?... a yes... is this European country in the border of Poland?" . Was a lawyer... Like miss Clinton not a good student. This happens in front of the oldest university in Asia (University of Santo Tomas in Manila,Phillipines, which was founded in April 1611. And him finish whit this pearl .. "Maybe you don't know, but Philippines was almost another state of the Union until the second wold war...!".Him was very well aware of mi nationality i'm a Spanish citizen and a modest scholar in History... Then I tell tell him ... And you, you remember "The Maine"?, and the 19th century imperialist media of your country how make a good excuse of a accident to make a war of invasion an not liberation in Cuba, Philippines and Puerto Rico, (Hearst, Pulitzer, etc etc.).Now this new century they need much more oil... And more and more... And they need keep selling weapons to pay back the oil.... And the support anybody to give then that. After another century same horses whit other rider. Hope Iran do well in next few months for the sake of all Iranians inside and outside of Iran.

Anonymous / March 4, 2009 7:56 PM

Thank you for your great comment. As I said in my article, this has been known as the Persian Gulf AT LEAST since 330 BC, which is in full agreement with your more historically precise and accurate information. -- Muhammad Sahimi

Golnoush / March 4, 2009 8:36 PM

Yes. The geographical area was a part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. Herodotus wrote that the Persians might have called it: "Red Sea" for the red fertile silt that washed from the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates into the body of water.As you have correctly pointed out in your article, 'Arabian Gulf' is meaningless.Modern political situations do not give a free license to change the historical name of the "Persian Gulf".

A. J. Cave / March 4, 2009 10:26 PM

Good piece.If the US is serious about talking to Iran, they should not be alienating the Iranians like this.

Anonymous / March 6, 2009 1:16 PM

I just visited your site and thank you for great work; you made me your customer. Yes it is and will be Persian Gulf "Khalige Fars"Good luck and best wishes.Happy New Year "Eid Shoma Mobarak"Reza Lotfi, Philadelphia

Anonymous / March 12, 2009 4:55 PM


What you need to know about "THE PERSIAN GULF"

watch here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubUU0_z0RnI

Peji / November 21, 2009 2:11 AM