22 February 2010

Iran Restricting Airspace Over A Word

Iran is pitching a hissy-fit over the commonly used commercial air term, 'Arabian Gulf,' threatening to ban airlines that fail to call the shared waterway the 'Persian Gulf.'
'"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 the daily Iran newspaper. "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. .... Iran says it is the Persian Gulf, the Arab states say it is Arab. Foreign language descriptions can offend either party if they use one name or the other, or sometimes if they avoid an adjective altogether.'
Iran has long been touchy about transit through the Gulf, especially at the Strait of Hormuz, where they have occasionally harassed both military and commercial shipping. And of course, there are multiple stories of Iran 'extending' its claims to airspace. This latest dust-up became public after Iran expelled a Greek steward working on a Kish Air flight (Iran also claims he threatened unruly passengers protesting the use of 'Arabian Gulf' on the in-flight monitors). It's possible this tantrum is part of Iran's response to the recent decision by the Obama Administration to beef-up missile defense throughout the Gulf. The most recent deployments were of Aegis cruisers to the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait. These are in addition to the Patriot missile batteries installed under President Bush.

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