An associate professor of Ancient History at California State University, Fullerton, Darayee has launched the English language website "Sasanika", introducing the history and culture of Sassanids.


Following is the full text of Daryaee’s letter published in Rozaneh Magazine.


To: National Geographic Society

December 1, 2004


Dear Sarah Clark,


I am writing to you as a professor of History at California State University, Fullerton. I have been a member of the National Geographic Society for the past two years and for reasons enumerated below, I will cancel my membership to your organization. This is not so much because of my personal and national loyalties, but rather due to the wrong and unprofessional decision by your committee to place the name of "Arabian Gulf" next to that of "Persian Gulf."


The body of water called "Arabian Gulf" already exists, and the name is reserved for another body of water, which I teach about in my ancient history courses. In essence, what you have done is to confuse the bodies of water for the students and general users alike. In antiquity the Greeks and Romans called the Red Sea the "Arabian Gulf" (Pomponius Mela, de Chorographia, passage 72). Am I to tell my students that the National Geographic Society has decided to relocate this body of water for us?


As for the nomenclature of the Persian Gulf, it is clear that it was known as Persicus sinus in Latin meaning "Persian Gulf," or the variant Persicum mare, meaning "Persian Sea" in the Classical Sources. In the Islamic period the Arabs themselves called this body of water bahr faris or "Sea of Fars." In the first half of the twentieth century it was known as khalij al-fars "Persian Gulf" by virtually all Arab countries. The Europeans who continued the Classical tradition employed such terms as Sino Persico and Sinus Persicus. Thus in the West and the Middle East this body of water has been known as the "Persian Gulf."


It was only with the recent appearance of Arab nationalism or so-called "Pan-Arabism", spear-headed by former Egyptian President Gamal Abd Al-Nasser, who was hostile to the late Shah of Iran, that the term al-khalij al-arabi or "Arabian Gulf" was coined. It simply did not exist before this period! How could we go about changing names of places so whimsically based on personal preferences? The Society states that since many institutions and people use an alternative name for the Persian Gulf, then "Arabian Gulf" must be mentioned.


By your logic, then Shatt al-Arab, which is the waterway bordering Iran and Iraq, known as Arvand Rud ("Arvand River") to the Iranians for several decades must also be mentioned. But this would be historically incorrect, and I would not support the changing of names based on nationalism. By the same logic if the Iranians begin calling the Sea of Oman or the Arabian Sea the "Sea of Iran," then the National Geographic would have to cave in and place such artificial names for these bodies of water as well. Even the island of Kish in your map is mentioned by it alternate Arabic name Qays which is almost never used in Iran and it belongs to Iran.


If personal (Directorate) or financial matters govern such decisions, then I must say that I am dismayed that such a reputable organization would be pushed to create false names as "acceptable alternatives" based on unscrupulous decisions. But again, we live in a world where even names can be bought or exchanged for money. I just did not expect that the National Geographic Society would do such a thing. Rest-assured, I will have this matter discussed in our department at Fullerton, and my fellow historians in other California State University campuses will also hear about this matter. I do ask you to please cancel my subscription.



Touraj Daryaee

Associate Professor of Ancient History







Persian Gulf is part of Iran: Larijani TEHRAN, Jan. 8 (MNA) -- Dr. Ali Larijani, the Leader’s representative at the Supreme National Security Council, has said that the Persian Gulf is part of Iran and the county’s interests lie in it and this will remain so.

In an interview with the Tehran Persian language daily Hamshahri published on Saturday, Larijani stated that Iranians are very sensitive about the country’s boundaries in the course of regional developments.


Today those countries with no access to open seas do not enjoy economic and trade privileges, but access to the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman has provided Iran with easy access to the world, he noted.


From the Arvand river at the mouth of the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Hormuz there are eight countries with coastlines, with Iraq having the smallest coast of ten miles and Iran, with 635 miles has the biggest, and out of 130 small and large islands in the Persian Gulf, 25 belong to Iran, which are all of strategic importance for the country, he noted.


Moreover, oil and gas reserves, fishing, tourism, and trade opportunities have made the Persian Gulf unique for the country, he said.


The Persian Gulf is important for the U.S., Japan, and Europe due to its abundant energy resources such as oil and gas, but the significance of the waterway far outweighs these factors because parts of it belong to Iran.


Pointing to the last will of Peter the Great to Russian officials, in which he asked them to gain access to the Persian Gulf’s warm waters, the SNSC member said the presence of British and U.S. forces in the area throughout the twentieth century is an indication of the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf.


He said British and U.S. forces have been present in the area mostly to protect the balance of power in favor of Israel and this policy is maintained throughout the Middle East starting from North Africa to the Persian Gulf to guarantee the safe flow of oil from the waterway.


Larijani, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, went on to say that during the rule of the last shah of Iran, the colonial powers supported the anti-Arab Iranians but immediately after the Islamic Revolution they turned to anti-Iranian Arabs and this indicates that “sowing discord” is the most favored tool of the U.S.


“The meaning of peace, stability, and progress from the Americans’ point of view is different from what we think. Peace means the security of Israel, the interests of Israel, the dominance of Israel, and even the current U.S. policy of preemptive war has the same meaning,” he observed.


The former director of the IRIB television network argued that the U.S. neoconservatives are obsessed with the Cold War era and are trying to create an artificial cold war in the Middle East in which Iran is to play the role of the former Soviet Union and the Arab states are to be like the Eastern European countries with Iran trying to gain control over them.





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