Progress Made in Talks on Persian Gulf Between NIAC and National Geographic

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Status of Iranian Persian Gulf islands clarified

Significant progress was made in convincing the National Geographic Society to correct inaccuracies in their current edition of the “Atlas of the World” during Monday’s high-level meeting between NIAC and National Geographic’s executive team, headed by President John Fahey.

Close to 5,000 individual letters have been sent to the personal email accounts of National Geographic executives - through NIAC’s website – since November 22, when NIAC initiated a campaign to assure the sole use of the term “Persian Gulf” in the National Geographic's publications.

In addition, 36 Iranian-American organizations including NIAC signed an official letter to the National Geographic requesting a reversal of their dual classification of the Persian Gulf.

The meeting was held in a very positive atmosphere and the leadership of the National Geographic expressed a strong willingness to resolve the current differences regarding the nomenclature of the Persian Gulf.

In addition to the Persian Gulf issue, the question of the Iranian islands of Kish, the Tunbs and Abu Musa were also discussed.

Owing to letters received from the NIAC membership, the National Geographic was made aware that it had incorrectly been using the Arab name Qeys for the Iranian island of Kish.

This error will be corrected in the online version of the Atlas, as well as in the future printings of the 8th edition of the Atlas.

The National Geographic also agreed that the description of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa in the Atlas was not accurate. Currently, the Atlas reads that these three Iranian islands are “Occupied by Iran, Claimed by U.A.E.”

In accordance to the discussions between NIAC and the National Geographic, the word “occupied” will neither appear in the online version nor in future printings of the 8th edition of the Atlas.

While the discussions on the issue of the islands were very fruitful, some differences still remain on the dual taxonomy of the Persian Gulf. NIAC and the National Geographic will be holding further consultations on this topic in the coming weeks.

“It is important that highly respected institutions such as the National Geographic understand that the term ‘Arabian Gulf’ was created during the hay-day of pan-Arabism with the purpose of fueling ethnic tensions between the Arab and the non-Arab peoples of the Middle East,” said Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council.

“It should have no place in the vocabulary of an apolitical organization of such high standing as the National Geographic,” commented Parsi.


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Dokhi Fassihian