Now country picks fight with neighbors over name of sports tournament!

By Bob Unruh

(Image by alessandra barbieri from Pixabay)
(Image by alessandra barbieri from Pixabay)

Before the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran was a West-friendly, forward-looking dynasty run by the Pahlavi clan. Since the violent takeover by Muslim extremists, it’s isolated itself, threatened Israel regularly with total destruction, demanded international recognition and the “right” to nuclear weapons and more.

It has gotten along well with almost no one.

But now it is taking its lone-wolf agenda to a new level: It is picking a fight with its Arab neighbors over the name of a football tournament.

A report from the Middle East Media Research Institute explains the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup tournament was held just weeks ago in Basra, Iraq. Participants included Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen and others.

But Iran insists that the name of the Arabian Gulf, a name recognized by Saudi Arabia and many Gulf countries, actually is the Persian Gulf.

“This year, as in the past, many called it by its official name, the Arabian Gulf Cup, which angered Iran,” MEMRI reported. Further, “The hosting of the game in Iraq, for first time in 43 years, was also a source of tension, since it reignited feelings of Arab nationalism in the country, which in the recent years has been under Iranian hegemony.”

Local residents and Iraqi officials alike welcomed the tournament and honored their Arab guests.

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“The warm welcome given to the Arab visitors from the Gulf, and the use of the name Arabian Gulf by Iraqi officials, were anathema to Iran,” the report warned. “On January 7, Iran’s Football Federation announced on its website that it intended to lodge a complaint with FIFA about the use of the name Arabian Gulf Cup, stressing that Persian Gulf is the historical name used in all languages and on all maps, old and new.”

Iranian officials “condemned” the comments from Iraqis and demanded they apologize.

“Several days later, on January 11, it was reported that Iran had summoned the Iraqi ambassador, Nasir ‘Abd Al-Muhsin ‘Abdallah, to express its protest. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian explained that the ambassador had been summoned because of the Iraqi authorities’ use of the ‘fake name’ Arabian Gulf, and to clarify the Iranian people’s sensitivity to the use of the correct name, Persian Gulf,” the report said.

The Iranian press joined in, with the daily Arman-e Emrooz insisting, “[Iraqi Prime Minister] Al-Sudani Is Following in the Footsteps of Saddam Hussein.”

Iraqis, including Prime Minister Al-Sudani, and those from other countries, rejected Iran’s agenda, the report said.

“‘Issam Hussein, an official in the Sadrist movement, said that the demand voiced by the Iranian parliament that Muqtada Al-Sadr apologize for using the name Arabian Gulf stemmed from Iran’s fear of losing its influence in Iraq, now that the games have brought Iraq closer to its Arab surroundings,” the report explained.

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