Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Beeman--State Department refers to Persian Gulf as "Arabian Gulf" to annoy Iran

State Department refers to Persian Gulf as "Arabian Gulf" to annoy Iran

In the latest round of childish interchange between the United States and Iran, the U.S. has decided to use the cheap shot of referring to the Persian Gulf as the Arabian Gulf. Never mind that many bodies of water in the world have dual nomenclature. The State Department well knows that this is a hot-button item for the Iranians. I saw the State Department announcement of a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia intended to "stabilize the region."It seems that Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro went out of his way to be provocative. He pointedly referred to the "Arabian Gulf" several times. There was no need to do this at all. The State Department could have simply talked about Saudi Arabia without referring to the Gulf at all. Most of us outside of the region have no dog in this fight, aside from wishing to be historically correct (the term "Arabian Gulf" is, as most everyone knows, fairly recent in historical reference--certainly more recent than "Persian Gulf"), but the repercussions on the Iranian side are certain to be negative. It was a gratuitous slap in the face calculated to get a rise out of Iranian officials. The effect is to worsen the already terrible relations between the nations, and to create heightened tensions in the region. If the Iranians are wise they will ignore this cheap little trick, but my guess is they won't.

see Jamal Abdi's article on this matter: