The Persian Gulf was is and will be the Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf is the Persian Gulf
Author: Dr. Assad Homayoun
September 3rd, 1999
HISTORICAL facts are known and self-evident. Throughout the years, a few of Iran’s neighboring 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, specially 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 17th century, the world greatest historians and cartographers 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 "Al-Khalij 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 [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 the 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 participate in 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 Arabs 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 neighbors. Furthermore, Iran must reestablish 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 region's stability. It ought not forget the past and close the door to future friendly relationships which 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 Hormuz against Marxist subversion. On one hand it prevented the fall of Oman, and on the other hand it 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 publication 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 behavior of the ruling clerical regime of Tehran.