Essay: Persian gulf

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  • Subject area(s): History essays
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  • Published on: July 6, 2019
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For nearly 2500 years, the body of water that has been lapping the coasts of Iran, Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, has been known to the world as “The Persian Gulf (U.S. Department of State, 1969, pp, 18-27) In spite of this historical name, the latter part of the 20th century has heard several fervid expressions from the Arab side to change the name of the Gulf to the Arabian Gulf, or something more palatable to the Arab’s taste. (Albahama, H. M., 1969, pp 518-519). For example, the Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), refers to the Persian Gulf as “The Arab/Persian Gulf.” (Asi, A. 1971, pp 1-8). This mixing of the name may have had a logic to it. But clearly, such suggestions are at best arbitrary, and at worst, subjective and irresponsible. “The author, D. T. Potts (Potts, D. T., 1990, v.1 pp 1-4) indicates that from prehistory to the Fall of the Achaemenid Empire the world has known the Persian Gulf’s has remained the same. However, because Potts did his work from the Arabian side, he indicated that he found himself under the necessity to choose the name “The Arabian Gulf” (Potts, D. T., 1990, v.1 pp 1- 4). Given this framework, if the author were to study the Gulf of Mexico from the United States’ side, he would also find himself “under the necessity” to give the Gulf of Mexico five different names from Texas to Florida. However, this paper’s purpose involves history, not jurisprudence. As such, it is not impossible to imagine that a country might decide to go to war to protect its geographical possession and integrity. The word “integrity” as used here arises from, and is connected with the word “sovereignty,” which defines the legitimate boundaries among neighboring nations. By contrast, it seems logical and highly probable that today’s civilized world that tastes and lives on the fruits of some trillions of dollars that flow across the Persian Gulf annually would insist on the status quo. This article, therefore, holds that history has spoken and maintained a verdict that the name of that body of water has been Persian Gulf, and no logic has been presented to render invalid that verdict. To that end, I shall discuss the geography of the Persian Gulf in Section II, its history in Section III; Section IV presents an argument favoring the name change and section V an argument for keeping the name, which is the Persian Gulf.

What the world has known for more than two and a half millennia as the Persian Gulf is a body of water 93,000 square miles: Its length measures 615 miles, but its width varies from 210 miles to 35 miles at the Strait of Hormuz — a 20.75-mile vena contracta of the waterway, with an “average” width of about 151 miles. The countries bordering this body of waters include Iran, with the largest coastline, the Arabian Peninsula, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq with the smallest shoreline of about ten miles. (Mirfakhrai, M. H., 1990, pp159– 161) The coastlines constitute about 97% of the Persian Gulf’s circumference. The remaining 3% connects to the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz, a 20.75-mile vena contracta of the waterways through which flows the lifeblood of international business and commerce. (Ansi, A) For that blood to flow, the Strait must remain open and healthy and free for navigation. The modern map in Figures 1 & 2 delineates the Gulf region and the Strait of Hormuz;

III. Persian Gulf: The History of the Name
The inquisitive reader may want to know when, how and why that body of water came to be known as the Persian Gulf. To begin with a series of maps have been produced and included in Appendixes A,B, and C. These maps, in effect, show history of the Persian Gulf in pictures. As to the name itself- Persian Gulf, I believe `the inhabitants of that region who were Persians named it after their own identity 2,500 year ago. Thereafter, the map makers and the book writers and the general public of the time used the nomenclature in use at the time, which has remained so until the recent challenge. One cannot find any reason, but the force of nationalism, in the desire to change the name. It would seem to this author that the debate over the name change will continue, but the appellation “Persian Gulf” will remain – will remain because in the last analysis no dire necessity can be shown for the name change. This last assertion is not intended to imply that the passage of time, the time that erodes mighty mountains, could not erode the old name of an old place. Experience has shown that rather it can and it has. But, can that logic – the erosion of a mountain under the forces of nature, be extended to include a change in a geographically established name? It seems unlikely. What the foregoing passage intends to communicate is, a fortiori, that one would choose a new name for an old and honorable one either under the force of an unjust war or under the force of some clear and inexorable logic. It must never be undertaken to satisfy the demands of an inexplicable dream, however sweet.

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