Jamal Abdul Nasser’s reference to the Persian Gulf on August 30, 1951

The Breibart news network provided the following report on November 25, 2013: Arab parliamentarians collectively withdraw from NATO PA session in protest of use of ‘Persian Gulf’. The report stated the following:

The delegations of the U.A.E. Federal National Council (FNC) and the parliaments of Arab and Gulf countries on Monday withdrew from the second session of a joint seminar organized by Parliamentary Assembly of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO PA) in protest of the organizers’ designation of the ‘Persian Gulf’ instead of ‘Arabian Gulf’…In response to the collective withdrawal of Arab delegations, the organizers of the NATO PA meeting had to change the name to ‘Arabian Gulf’ and to apologize to the Arab delegations for using the other name.”

This is a notable event as the distinguished Arab statesmen (and their equally distinguished Western hosts) are in contradiction of historical facts and international legal agreements:

1) The United Nations has twice recognized the legality of the historical name “Persian Gulf” (UNAD 311/March 5, 1971 and UNLA 45.8.2 (c) on August 10, 1984)

2) Arab countries (including the countries at the NATO conference on November 25, 2013) have signed both of the UN documents.

UN Editorial Directive 1994[Click to Enlarge] United Nations Editorial Directive issued on August 18, 1994 which clearly notes of the legality and correct use of the name “Persian Gulf”.

3) There are historical maps and primary references from antiquity well into the 20th century (especially Arabian sources) that attest to the historically correct name of the Persian Gulf (see also Persian Gulf On-line).

Equally notable is the fact that the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970) himself referred to the Persian Gulf by its correct name as seen below…

استفاده جمال عبدالناصر از واژه «خلیج فارس » در یک نامه

Below is a document (originally appeared in the Iraqi Al_Jewar website) forwarded to kavehfarrokh.com which shows that the late pan-Arabist, Jamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970), referred to the Persian Gulf by its correct name on August 30, 1951:

Telegram-Nasser-PGNote by written  by the late President of Egypt, jamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970) – this was transmitted by Egypt’s Cable and Wireless Company Limited on August 30, 1951.

Known for his honesty, humility, courage and integrity of character, Nasser was a tragic victim of the ideology of pan-Arabism by his advocacy of changing the historical name of the  Persian Gulf. Some have speculated that Nasser may have been partly motivated to do so due to his dislike of the late Shah of Iran.

gamal-abdul-nasserGamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970) (Source: Famous People).

Ironically, despite decades of ideology and the re-writing of textbooks (not to mention to participation of select Western academics in historical rewriting), changing history has proven to be an exceedingly difficult task, as seen in the image below.

Cairo-StreetThe street plaque “Sharraa Khalij al-Faris” (Persian Gulf Street) in Cairo, Egypt (Source: posted in Persian Gulf On-line).

Below is a map published by the Saudi Arabian government in 1952 which clearly indicates the body of water known historically as the Persian Gulf by its correct name. Arabian and Islamic historical sources consistently attest to to the correct appellation of the body of water known as the Persian Gulf in history.

Saudi Arabian map of the Persian Gulf in 1952 (Source: posted in Persian Gulf On-line).

The map is all the more remarkable as it was published at the time of the coup d’etat of pan-Arab nationalist leader Gamal Abdul Nasser, who at the beginning of his career, always referred to the Persian Gulf by its correct name.

Nasser however became wholly enthused with pan-Arabist philosophy and began to apply the term “Arabian Gulf” from the mid-late 1950s onward. It is worth noting that it was Sir Charles Belgrave who first invented the term “Arab Gulf” and attempted to change the name of the Persian Gulf. Belgrave was the British advisor to the Arab leadership of Bahrain in the 1930s. Belgrave proposed his “Arabian Gulf” invention to the British Foreign and Colonial offices in London, where the project was quietly dropped. Belgrave however had succeeded in a way; he had set the stage for future Iranian and Arab friction.

Sir Charles BelgraveShaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (at left) and Sir Charles Belgrave (right) (Picture Source: Flicker) who was England’s Government Advisor to Bahrain. It was Belgrave who first pioneered the concept of changing the name of the Persian Gulf. The motives for such revisionist schemes are not clear, but it is possible that Belgrave was calculating that such actions would create frictions between the Iranians and the Arabs.

The British themselves soon began to see the benefits of propagating the “Arab Gulf” project, especially after Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh took control of Iran’s oil industry from the British in the 1951.

Different name – same management: Anglo-Iranian Oil Company or AIOC (Anglo-Persian Oil Company until 1935) changes its title to British Petroleum (BP) in 1954 (at left).  One year before its name change (1953) the petroleum company had been instrumental in cooperating with the CIA to topple Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh (1882-1967) (at right) – for more information consult Iran at War: 1500-1988, 2011, pp. 297-303. At present, BP has major oil interests in the Caucasus to the north of Iran.

Furious at this perceived outrage, Roderic Fenwich Owen, a British secret agent linked to British Petroleum (originally Anglo-Iranian Oil Company) saw the potential of using “Arab Gulf” as a weapon against Iran. Owen eventually published and promoted a book called “The Golden Bubble of the Arabian Gulf: A Documentary” (London: Collins, 1957). The British were not going to be ejected from the Persian Gulf without a fight – and what better way than the famous “Parthian shot” of attacking the heritage, history and civilization legacy of Persia herself. In a sense, the usage of “Arab Gulf” for the body of war known historically as Persian Gulf was first successfully popularized by Owen, two decades after Belgrave tried (unsuccessfully) to do so.

Owen and SheikhRoderick Fenwich Owen (right) and the Sheikh of Ras al-Kheima (left) circa late 1950s (Source: Daily Mail). Owen’s application of “Arab Gulf” to the historical Persian Gulf was not protested by the British and Western academics/historians. There are in fact Western professors active within Iranian Studies programs who have written books in support of the Arab Gulf thesis (see Daniel Potts further below). Similarly, when Spiegel magazine and the Daily Telegraph attacked the legacy of Cyrus the Great and even insulted the people of Iran, no professors of Achaemenid studies raised any protests (see for example Iranian.com).

There are a select number of professors within Iranian Studies who have assisted the name change of the Persian Gulf (see for example below):

Potts-Arabian GulfIranian Studies Professor Daniel Potts of the University of Sydney (top left) and his textbook “The Arabian Gulf in Antiquity” (top right) which is being used as a standard reference in Arabian universities such as the University of Sharjah (bottom image).  In the above book, Potts argues that the Persian Gulf was known as Arab Gulf since pre-Islamic times. To his credit, Potts has seemingly retracted from this and now acknowledges that the Persian Gulf is the correct historical name. However his book continues to be distributed.

Mike Boehm’s article in Los Angeles Times regarding the Cyrus Cylinder

The article below is by Mike Boehm and appeared in the Los Angeles Times entitled “Huge significance rolled into tiny Cyrus Cylinder at the Getty Villa” (November 13, 2013). As noted by the Los Angeles Times:

The cylinder records how Persia’s Cyrus the Great restored justice, peace and piety to Babylon. It’s fabled not for its looks but its historical, political and religious implications.

Kindly note that the pictures and captions posted below did not appear in the original Los Angeles Times article.

For more on this topic consult:


The Cyrus Cylinder sits dramatically lighted behind glass at the center of a dimmed gallery at the Getty Villa. But the splendorous setting, including walls painted a deep royal blue, can’t dispel the notion that this may be the homeliest object ever to get star treatment in a major art museum. It’s a 9-inch, straw-colored barrel made of cracked and broken clay, devoid of decorative interest. Horizontally tattooed with row after row of tiny cuneiform script that was etched into it 2,552 years ago, it calls to mind a corn cob that’s been gnawed bare. The conquering Persians who drafted and inscribed the cylinder’s text after they’d taken the fabled city of Babylon in 539 BC did not intend it as any kind of showpiece.

cyrus-cylinder-New[Click to Enlarge] The Cyrus Cylinder (The British Museum)

They buried the cylinder inside rebuilt city walls — a customary practice at the time, serving a talismanic function and embedding in Babylon’s very bones a record of how Cyrus the Great restored justice, peace and piety to the capital, which lies south of present-day Baghdad in Iraq.

As with the similarly inelegant Dead Sea Scrolls, the Cyrus Cylinder, which was unearthed by an expedition from the British Museum in 1879, is a fabled find because of its historical, political and religious implications rather than its looks.

The Getty Villa is the fifth and last stop of a nine-month U.S. tour featuring the cylinder and other ancient Persian artifacts from the British Museum. “The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: A New Beginning,” runs through Dec. 8. A second gallery offers 14 artifacts including a gold plaque depicting an ancient Zoroastrian priest and a striking upper-arm bracelet topped by statuettes of winged griffins with the heads of eagles and the horns of goats.

3-Ishtar gateThe Ishtar Gate, now housed in the Berlin Museum. When Cyrus entered Babylon-city through the Ishtar gates, the city’s inhabitants laid branches in his path. As noted by Graf, Hirsch, Gleason, and Krefter: “Cyrus proved a tolerant conqueror: when he enteredBabylon…he ordered his troops to show respect for the city’s temples and religious customs.” [D.F. Graf, S.W. Hirsch, K. Gleason, and F.H. Krefter, A Soaring Spirit. New York:Time-Life Books, 1988, p.15]

But the cylinder is the star, claiming a sizable gallery to itself except for a couple of inscribed ancient clay pebbles that were found elsewhere and echo its text. On a recent weekday afternoon, parties of visitors eagerly stood beside it, posing for pictures.

“It’s a very small universe of things that have this status” based only on their inscriptions, said Timothy Potts, the Getty Museum’s director, who has a doctorate in the art and archaeology of the ancient Middle East.

Wailing-WallThe West Wall in Jerusalem. After his conquest of Babylon, Cyrus allowed the Jewish captives to return to Israel and rebuild the Hebrew temple. It is believed that approximately 40,000 did permanently return to Israel.

The Cyrus Cylinder embodies a great leader’s ideal of prudently humane governance. Having established a multinational empire, Cyrus allowed captive peoples to return to their homelands and worship their own gods. He influenced Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, both of whom owned copies of the “Cyropaedia,” an admiring, fictionalized biography and treatise on political philosophy by the Greek soldier and historian Xenophon.

The cylinder also evokes a crucial moment for Western religion, because Cyrus’ tolerance gave a new lease on life to Judaism, resolving a crisis in which the Jews had clung to their faith and peoplehood through 50 years of Babylonian exile.

5-Tomb of EstherThe tomb of Esther and Mordechai in Hamedan, northwest Iran. External view (left) and the interior of the tomb (right).

The Old Testament’s Book of Ezra and ancient Greek sources recount how Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem with their ransacked ceremonial vessels and encouraged them to rebuild the temple that the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed.

“Without that act, who knows what would have happened?” Potts said — not only to Judaism but also to its eventual offshoot, Christianity. “It can be argued it’s one of those turning points in history that, had it not happened, would have made the history of the world incredibly different.”

The Cyrus Cylinder doesn’t mention the Jews, but one of its passages, in a translation by British Museum curator Irving Finkel, is thought to dovetail with and confirm other ancient accounts of Cyrus the Great as their benefactor: “I collected together all of [the displaced groups]… and returned them to their settlements… and made permanent sanctuaries” for gods that the toppled Babylonian king, Nabodinus, had dishonored.

John LockeJohn Locke (1632-1704) is one of the foremost leading thinkers of the enlightenment and one of the proponents of liberal thinking in the western world. He  was fully cognizant of the Cyropaedia, which may explain the parallels between his philosophies and elements of Zoroastrian thought followed by Cyrus the Great.

For these good deeds, Cyrus prays that “all the gods that I returned to their sanctuaries” will bless him and his successors. The Achaemenid empire, named for one of Cyrus’ Persian precursors, lasted 200 years, stretching eastward at its height from Turkey to the Indus River in what’s now Pakistan until it was overthrown by Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

In Southern California, the cylinder’s arrival marks a chance for one of its newest immigrant groups, Iranian Americans, to step forward and counter stereotypes embedded by 34 years of enmity between their homeland’s current regime and the United States.

cyropaedia-thomas-jefferson-copyThomas Jefferson’s copy of the Cyropaedia (Picture Source:  Angelina Perri Birney). Like many of the founding fathers and those who wrote the US Constitution, President Jefferson regularly consulted the Cyropedia – an encyclopedia written by the ancient Greeks about Cyrus the Great. The two personal copies of Thomas Jefferson’s Cyropaedia are in the US Library of Congress in Washington DC. Thomas Jefferson’s initials “TJ” are seen clearly engraved at the bottom of each page.

The Cyrus Cylinder “is important because of the ideals it represents, that say who we really are,” said Bita Milanian, executive director of the L.A.-based Farhang Foundation, a nonpolitical, nonreligious organization that aims to further the study and appreciation of Iranian art and culture (“farhang” means “culture” in Persian). Formed in 2008, the foundation has helped establish an Iranian studies program at USC, to go with a long-standing one at UCLA.

eleanor-roosevelt-udhr-2As noted by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Disregard and contempt for Human Rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people… All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” (UDHR-Picture Source:  Angelina Perri Birney).

“Non-Iranians can get to know the Iranian culture and its people in the correct light, rather than the portrayals in the media that we hear every day,” Milanian said. “The exhibition gives us a symbol to point to and start important conversations, to talk about things that have never been public and allow our cultural values to take their rightful place among the highlights and history of civilization.”

Harry S TrumanHarry S. Truman (1884-1972) who was President of the United States in 1945-1953. Not only did he acknowledge the legacy of Cyrus the Great in liberating the Jews from their Babylonian captivity, he also stood up against Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who tried to absorb Iran’s Azarbaijan province into the Soviet Union. For more Click here…

She estimates that 500,000 Iranian Americans live in Southern California, by far their largest regional presence in the United States, with most having arrived since the 1979 revolution that toppled the shah of Iran and installed the present regime.

6-Tomb of DaneilThe tomb of Daniel in Khuzestan in southwest Iran. The main structure (note cone-like dome) as it stands today (left) and Iranian pilgrims paying homage within the tomb of Daniel.

Milanian said that area school districts’ units on ancient history typically skip Cyrus and the Persian empire, and she hopes that classes coming to see the Cyrus Cylinder will help establish a basis for its eventual inclusion in public school curriculums.

Besides the school groups, said the Getty’s Potts, “we’ve had busloads of Persians, and in some cases groups that are Zoroastrians, the same faith as [the Persian Empire’s] rulers. It’s been an extraordinary turnout.”

Cyrus Koresh Kourosh street in JerusalemWhen History goes beyond Politics: Koresh or Cyrus street in Jerusalem. There is currently no street named Cyrus or Koroush in Tehran, the capital of Iran today. There is also an “Iran” street in Israel.

Updates and Photos from Yerevan State University Conference November 2013

As noted on a Blog-News release on October 28, 2013, Kaveh Farrokh provided a presentation at  (بخش ایران شناسی دانشگاه دولتی ایروان) the University of Yerevan Iranian Studies Department  entitled “Shirvan, Arran, and Azerbaijan: A Historical-Cultural Retrospective” conference (kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics). He also delivered a second (2-part) lecture entitled “Cultural Links between Iran, Armenia and Georgia from Antiquity to the early 1800s“. These were delivered on November 2 and 4th 2013 respectively.

YSU-Committee-2013-1Cover page, dedication and list of organizers of the conference. Kindly note that Kaveh Farrokh was one of the members of the organizing committee for the conference at Yerevan State University (Click to enlarge to see list of organizers). For more information on the conference kindly click here for more information on all conference participants and their topics.

Below are photo updates of the conference.

YSU-Nov-2013-1From left to right: Professor Garnik S. Asatrian (Chair, Iranian Studies Department, Yerevan State University; Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden-Boston), Professor Ali Granmayeh (London Middle East Institute, SOAS, University of London) and Professor Vardan Voskanian (faculty, Iranian Studies Department, Yerevan State University). Professor Asatrian and Kaveh Farrokh were interviewed on November 5, 2013 by Armenian TV regarding the conference (click here…)

YSU-Nov-2013-2The opening ceremonies and lectures of the conference at Yerevan State University.

YSU-10-YSU Faculty and Grad StduentsA gathering of students and faculty of the Iranian Studies Department at Yerevan State University, with Professor Victoria Arakelova situated second from right. Professor Victoria Arakelova is Associate Professor, Department of Iranian Studies, Yerevan State University and Associate Editor, “Iran and the Caucasus”, BRILL, Leiden.

YSU-4-Prof Galichian-2 Professor Rouben Galichian presenting on ancient maps of Shirvan, Arran, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Farrokh has written a book review of Galichian’s latest text which will appear in the forthcoming edition of the distinguished journal IranNameh: A Journal of Iranian Studies, edited by Professor Mohammad Tavakoli-Targhi (Professor of History and Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto and the chair of the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Toronto-Mississauga).

YSU-16-Asatrian-Farrokh-Borbor-3Professor Garnik Asatrian, Kaveh Farrokh and Professor Dariush Borbor (Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge and Director of the Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies (RILIS) at Tehran).

YSU-Nov-2013-3 Farrokh lectures at Yerevan State University on November 2 (links between Arran, Azerbaijan and Iran – bottom photo) and November 4 (post-conference lecture on Iran-Armenia and Iran-Georgia links – top photo). Farrokh and Asatrian also appeared on Armenian state TV (see here…) to discuss the conference and its importance to the study of languages and ethnic groups of the Caucasus.

 YSU-14-Arakelova and GeorgiaProfessor Victoria Arakelova and Professor Irina Natchkebia (Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies of Georgian Academy of Sciences).

YSU-18-YSU Conference(Left) Professor Sekandar Amanollahi-Baharvand who teaches anthropology at the University of Shiraz and (Right) Professor Garnik Asatrian.

YSU-12-Garnik Asatrian Residence-4After the Conference: Enjoying the Caucasian climate and local South Caucasus cuisine at Professor Asatrian’s residence: (Left) Farrokh and Professor Caspar ten Dam of Leiden University (Holland) (Right) from left to right: Professor Rouben Galichian and Professor Dariush Borbor.

Zoroastrian and Mithraic Sites of the Caucasus

The Caucasus has acted a vital conduit between the Iranian plateau-Eastern Anatolia axis and Eastern Europe. The photo survey below illustrates the legacy of Iran’s ancient Zoroastrian religion and the Cult of Mithras in the Caucasus.

Baku Fire Temple-UNESCO[Click to Enlarge] The main fire altar at the Atash-kade (Zoroastrian Fire-Temple) of Baku in the Republic of Azerbaijan (known as Arran and the Khanates until 1918) (Picture Source: Panoramio). This site is now registered with UNESCO as a world heritage site. 


Garni Temple-Armenia[Click to Enlarge] The Temple of Garni in Armenia. An example of Classical Armenian architecture bearing a Hellenic inspiration, this Temple was first ordered to be built in dedication to Mithras by Tiridates I in approximately 66 CE. The god Mithras in time became merged with the Sol Invictus (Unconquered Sun) of the Roman Empire (Picture Source: Skyscraper City).


Tbilisi Ategsha (Fire Temple)[Click to Enlarge] Remains of an “Atash-kade” (Zoroastrian fire-temple) undergoing repairs in Georgia. The cultural ties between Iran and the Caucasus  stretch back for thousands of years (Picture courtesy of Dr. David Khoupenia with caption from Kaveh Farrokh’’s lectures at the University of British Columbia’s Continuing Studies Division – also presented at Stanford University’s WAIS 2006 Critical World Problems Conference Presentations on July 30-31, 2006). For more on the topic of Zoroastrian fire temples in Georgia see Payvand News of Iran: The Northernmost Zoroastrian Fire Temple in the World (in the Republic of Georgia).


Baku Fire Temple-UNESCO-2[Click to Enlarge] Another view of the UNESCO registered Atash-kade (Zoroastrian Fire-Temple) of Baku (Picture Source: TravelPro).


Citadel of ArmaziA close-up view of the ruins of the citadel of Armazi in Georgia. It is possible that the term “Armazi” is derived from Iranic “Mazda” or “Ahura-Mazda”, the primary spiritual deity of the Zoroastrian faith (Picture Source: Iranboom).


Armenian Church built on Fire Temple[Click to Enlarge] Pictures of a Medieval Armenian Church at Goshavank sent to Kavehfarrokh.com by Professor George Nercessian (see article: “Professors Curatolia and Scaria: Dome Architecture and Europe“). This was built on the remains of cyclopean walls, where a Zoroastrian fire temple (Armenian Atrushan =Iranian Atar-Roshan) originally stood. There are many similar sites in Armenia where Churches were built on top of Zoroastrian fire temples (Pictures courtesy of Professor George Narcessian). For more on the topic of Armenian-Zoroastrian fire temples consult CAIS: The Armenian Fire Temple of Ani.