April 29, 2009

NIAC protests US military’s use of the incorrect term “Arabian Gulf”

Washington DC – In his April 1 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, America’s commander of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan used the politically divisive term “Arabian Gulf” several times.  NIAC has learned that General David Petraeus’ usage of this term is reflective of official US military policy, despite the recognition by all other US Government agencies that this term is incorrect.  This week, NIAC sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates protesting the use of this unhelpful and divisive term.

In the period following the Persian Gulf War, the US military began issuing directives to its men and women that they use the term “Arabian Gulf,” as a gesture to many of the Arab states in the region.  Historically, though, the term “Arabian Gulf” has been intended to create divisions in the region against non-Arab entities, particularly Iran and Israel.  Divisive leaders like Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Gamel Abdel Nasser have used the term to further an agenda of radical Arab nationalism that has contributed to the region’s instability.

The validity of the term Persian Gulf, on the other hand, has been undisputed for nearly 2,500 years.  Official legal judgments from the United Nations as well as the Department of State’s Board of Geographic Names confirm the legitimacy of the term. For these reasons, NIAC registered its protest of the military’s usage of the unhelpful term, and will follow up with Department of Defense officials to ensure that this mistake is corrected. 

Click here to view the letter NIAC sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.




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