Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:42 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:42 | SYDNEY

Iran: Stuck on the Gulf


Fergus Hanson


25 January 2008 10:30

These days there are fewer and fewer outrageously silly regimes. Thankfully, the Iranians keep reminding us they are still there fighting the absurd fight. According to this report Iran rejected a diplomatic note from the US on their recent confrontation at sea, because the Americans used the word ‘Gulf’ instead of ‘Persian Gulf’ in the text of their communication. The Iranians refused to consider the matter until a revised version was received.

In case you weren’t aware, there are few better ways to incense an Iranian official than by referring to that salty body of water as ‘the Gulf’. No lengths will be spared in Iran to protect this most sacred of names: even the secular Lonely Planet has fallen foul of the authorities. The pitiful editors of its Iran guide, struggling with limited space on its back page map, made the fateful error of economising and naming it…you guessed it ‘the Gulf’.  Thankfully, no traveler to Iran will need be mislead by Lonely Planet’s unforgiveable oversight: the Iranians have recopied the entire guidebook, except for the back page which has been helpfully reprinted with the offending word corrected…and a few new typos thrown in for good measure.

But thinking about it, it beggars belief that the Americans would be unaware of this silly Iranian sensitivity. So was the note’s purpose to address the confrontation or just niggle the Iranians?