Date: 9 June 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama
President of The United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
RE: PERSIAN GULF
Dear Mr. President:
As evidenced by the ancient history of Persia (now Iran) of more than 5000 years and the testimony of 2500 years of documented history and geographic maps and other facts, the body of water located south of Iran as a gulf has been named the PERSIAN GULF for thousands of years.
The people of Iran have a special respect for the United States of America as a sovereign nation, that has been exploited by colonial powers in her past, and fought to gain independence and achieved freedom and democracy for Americans more than two centuries ago.
Therefore, the Iranian people do expect the officials of the U.S. federal government and administration to respect historical facts and use the proper name of the Persian Gulf as it has always been.
Distorting the facts and playing with words to please certain Arab countries and calling the Persian Gulf “Arabian Gulf” or merely “Gulf” is disrespectful to the Iranian people, a violation of historical facts, and playing politics for dubious interests.
We respectfully urge you and the members of your administration to respect the Iranian people and historical facts and always use the correct historical name for the eternal Persian Gulf.
Members of the Iranian Community
Dear President Obama:
During your historic speech at the University of Cairo on June 4, 2009, you mentioned the Persian Gulf simply as the “Gulf.” Your Secretary of State, Mrs. Hillary Clinton, has also made similar references during her recent public statements and interviews. Additionally, your Commander of Central Command, General David Patreus, went so far as to refer to the Persian Gulf as the “Arabian Gulf”, possibly for purposes of appeasing certain quarters in the region that have been trying to wage psychological warfare against the Iranian nation. The use of the term “Arabian Gulf” is indeed offensive to all Iranian people.
As you know, for the past several millennia, diplomats, strategists, historians and geographers have consistently used the correct name of the Persian Gulf. It has also been the historic practice of the White House, State Department and various U.S. government agencies to use the historically correct and proper name of the Persian Gulf.
What follows is an article I wrote several years ago regarding this same issue. I hope you and your staff will refer to this important region by its proper name of the Persian Gulf in the future. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
With high esteem,
Dr. Assad Homayoun
Former Iranian Diplomat
From Focus on Iran publication By Dr. Assad Homayoun
“…When the American, like the British before them, grow weary of their imperial duties and sail away, Iran will dominate the Persian Gulf . It is ordained. No nation in the region can match Iran ‘s size, population or power…The question is: what kind of Iran shall it be? ” Patrick Buchanan- The Washington Times , Commentary, January 14, 1998
Historical facts are known and self-evident. Throughout the years, a few of Iran ‘s neighbouring 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 cartographer 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 Karim 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 neighbours. Furthermore Iran must re-establish 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 that 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 Homuz 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 behaviour 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