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More wrangling over the Arabian/Persian Gulf
Disagreement between Iran and the Arab states over the waterway that divides them could have a serious impact on the aviation business.
February 22, 2010 5:28 by kippreport
So, which side are you on – the ‘Arabian’, or the ‘Persian’? Because when it comes to the Gulf, it’s got to be one or the other, it seems.
Iran and the Arab states have for a long time disagreed over the name of the Gulf that divides them. Despite having renamed itself ‘Iran’ in 1935 as a statement against colonial interference, the northern neighbor insists on calling it the ‘Persian Gulf’ – the name recognized internationally. (‘Persia’ is still used widely in a cultural context, it has to be pointed out.)
‘Controversially’ – according to that great authority Wikipedia, that is, not us – the Arab states insist on the term ‘Arabian Gulf’.
The disagreement has led to some minor diplomatic incidents in the past. This year’s ironically-titled Islamic Solidarity Games, for instance, was cancelled because of the Arab states’ insistence on calling the waterway ‘Arabian’, which met with “unilateral measures” from Iran.
But the issue has never seemed a genuine threat to business – until now.
According to a report by Reuters, Iran has threatened to ban airlines from using its airspace if they refer to the Gulf as ‘Arabian’ rather than ‘Persian’.
“The airlines of the southern Persian Gulf countries flying to Iran are warned to use the term Persian Gulf on their electronic display boards,” Road and Transport Minister Hamid Behbahani said in comments in a daily Iran newspaper, quoted by Reuters. “Otherwise they will be banned from Iranian airspace for a month the first time and upon repetition their aircraft will be grounded in Iran and flight permits to Iran will be revoked,” he added.
Of course, there is more than just a name at stake here. The Arab states, given their ties to the US, have uneasy relations with Tehran – all the more so due to the growing pressure from the US over Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities.
But why must tensions between Iran and the Gulf states be played out in such terms? Would it be offensive to drop both the ‘Arabian’ and the ‘Persian’ when referring to ‘The Gulf’? Or would that ignite the wrath of Mexico?