By hostilely insisting that the name of “Persian Gulf” should be dropped from the medals and promotional materials of the 2009 Islamic Solidarity Games which was slated to be held in Iran, Arab states demonstrated again that their artificial friendship and so-called brotherhood with Iran, the largest littoral state of the historic waterway of the Persian Gulf, originates from things other than cultural or religious affinity.
The history of Islamic Solidarity Games began in 1993 when Iran initiated the games by holding it exclusively for women athletes for the first time. The event was minimally attended by only 8 Islamic nations, of whom Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan were the most vibrant contestants.
Iran had its chance to host the event again in 1997 and attracted 24 nations this time. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sudan, Jordan, Fiji and Indonesia were among the new-comers; however, the games once more did not host male athletes.
The fourth series in 2005 was interestingly welcomed by 44 nations, and even some non-Islamic countries opted to dispatch delegations to Tehran: the UK, Georgia, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea, India and the USA.
Following the successful experience of Iran’s initiative to hold the games for Muslim women athletes, Saudi Arabia set to emulate its long-standing econo-political rival by holding a mini-Olympics in 2005 for Islamic athletes based on the model of Iran’s 1993 games.
They held the games for both men and women and succeeded to exert a pull on 57 participating nations. The Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) consequently decided to hand the second set of games over to Iran and gave a 4-year mission to the country to warm up and get prepared for hosting more than 60 nations.
Iran reportedly spent some £6.7m to build a number of new stadiums, construct transportation terminals and new roads, train volunteers and design promotional materials etc. Everything was going on delicately and Mohammad Aliabadi, the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Vice President and the head of Sports Organization could victoriously flaunt the construction of magnificent stadiums, hotels and recreational facilities to the mass media and reporters in his press appearances.
The sweet dream of Iranians that would consider the successful inauguration of games as a political triumph, however, was suddenly turned into a horrific nightmare when the Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) Secretary General Saleh Gazdar and Technical Committee Chairman Mohammad Bashir Al-Trabosli headed to Tehran last week as the representatives of 22 Arab countries, spreading their tablecloth of complaint and grumble again and demanding that Iran wipe the name of Persian Gulf off the games altogether, otherwise they “will not participate” and the games “will be canceled automatically”.
They were right: the numerousness of Arabs and their exaggerated ultra-nationalistic sentiments is so unique and incredible that they can suddenly rescind any event and agreement. The officials of National Sports Organization were dreadfully shocked, being deluged in a deafening silence over the first days, having to precisely responsd to the startled reporters and correspondents. They knew well that if 22 Arab countries lobby to boycott the competition, it would be called off as a result.
The first strict reaction was showed by an influential cleric, Akbar Nateq Nouri, the former Parliament Speaker and an influential advisor to the Supreme Leader whose remarks last month on Bahrain’s sovereignty had stirred up international controversy. Nateq Nouri told the media that “Persian Gulf’s name would be intact and unchanged forever.” Hamshahri newspaper quoted him as saying, “all of the historical documents are indicative of the historicity and legitimacy of Persian Gulf’s name and we will never retreat from our stance about this unquestionable fact” even “at the expense of game’s suspension.”
Al-Akbar Velayati was the second one to respond. The former Foreign Minister and the political advisor of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei blamed the “Arab swindlers” in a fervent speech on the National Conference of Preserving Persian Gulf’s Heritage and stated: “Persian Gulf is the third largest gulf of the world which was first referred to as Persian in the Inscription of Dariush the Great some 5000 years ago.”
He also alluded to the “astuteness of Iranian nation in tracing and watching the deceptions and treacheries of enemies” who want to counterfeit the name of Persian Gulf.
Although the governmental officials in the body of Iranian ministries and embassies, especially the officials of foreign ministry, have surprisingly preferred a passive silence in the face of continuous naughtiness and mischievousness on the side of Arab neighbors, the categorical remarks of high-ranking officials who consider the Persian Gulf’s dispute a battleground with the “fraudulent Arabs” eventually emboldened the executives of Islamic Solidarity Games and Hassan Mirza Aqa-Beik emphasized on the eternity of “Persian Gulf” and Iran’s vigorous determination to safeguard this cultural heritage in an interview with IRNA.
He announced that “Iran will not bow down to the illegal demands of Arab states and will respond to those who challenge its territorial integrity.” He went on to say that “Iran will even brace canceling the games, but will never retreat from its clear-cut stance on Persian Gulf and its belongingness to Iran.”
With Arabs tricking and teasing Iran again, the $10 million project seems to be off the agenda and Iran’s longstanding plans to mount a glorious and superlative opening and closing ceremony now floats in vain.
UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and some other tiny states of Persian Gulf whose aggregate population and area would not exceed that of Iran have long set off an anti-Iranism project, fueled up by Israel, aiming at degrading the increasing influence of Iran and its geopolitical authority in the region. Casting doubts against Iran’s territorial integrity, questioning the name of the Persian Gulf, mistreating the Iranian passengers in Arabian airports and fingerprinting them are the integral parts of this hostile project, being practiced widely in the Arab countries.
Iranian officials and foreign ministry people have not so far displayed any definite reaction or a simple threat to retribution; however, political analysts believe that a possible victory of reformist Mirhossein Mousavi in the upcoming Presidential Elections of June would be decisive blow to the “Arab brothers” as he has announced in his recent speeches that he will bring back “Iran’s international dignity” if he is elected.
The idea of counterfeiting the name of Persian Gulf and replacing it with a name that manifests an Arabian identity and reconstructs the lost personality of Arab youths was first proposed by the pan-Arabist Jamal Abdel Nasser in 1950s, and this simply came after Iran’s growing power and pride began to fade out the influence of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the global stage.