Here’s a further sign of the slowly shifting power balance, away from nation-states to non-state actors: Iran’s foreign ministry has now taken it upon itself to censure Google Earth’s use of the term “Arabian Gulf” alongside “Persian Gulf”:
“Raising such issues about a historically-documented and undeniable term is illegal,” [foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali] Hosseini told the Mehr News Agency.
The Islamic Iran Participation Party also condemned the move, saying it will raise suspicion that Google Earth managers and experts are “knowingly or unknowingly” following certain power’s efforts to provoke conflict in the Persian Gulf region.
In a declaration released on Monday, the party described the action as insulting the intelligence of the international community.
This is undoubtedly the next volley in this escalating war of wills, after Google posted its “primary, common, local” naming doctrine to its public policy blog. Without mentioning that particular gulf, the doctrine spells out precisely why the term “Arabian Gulf” isn’t going to be removed anytime soon: It’s the primary common local name for the Gulf in several countries bordering it.