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Iran calls on Iraq to apologise over ‘Arabian Gulf’ Cup 

January 10, 2023 at 3:52 pm

People walk along the Shatt al-Arab river waterfront ahead of the 25th Arabian Gulf Cup football championship in Basra, Iraq on January 05, 2023 [Murtadha Al-Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

Iran has objected to Iraq’s reference to the Persian Gulf as the “Arabian Gulf”, as it hosts the regional football tournament, the Arabian Gulf Cup in the southern city of Basra.

On Saturday, a day after the 25th Gulf Cup kicked off, the Iranian football federation announced that they will be lodging a protest to FIFA over the naming of the tournament, saying “the Persian Gulf is a noble and historical name, which has been applied in all languages and various atlases, including ancient and historical maps.”

Iranian MP Alireza Salimi also brought up the subject during a parliamentary session on Sunday, calling on Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr, to apologise for using the “fake” name for the Gulf, which “has always been, and always will be Persian.”

When Al-Sudani opened the tournament last week he used the official name of the “Arabian Gulf Cup”, while Al-Sadr also used the term “Arabian Gulf” in his tweet to welcome the Arab guests to Basra.

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Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Naser Kanaani said yesterday that Tehran had responded to the Iraqi government over the use of the term, although Baghdad has so far not commented on Iran’s objections.

Leading Sadrist member, Issam Hussein, told Shafaq News Agency that “Iran is actually angry over Iraq’s rapprochement with its Arab neighbours and it is afraid it will lead to economic and political cooperation and cost Iran its influence in Iraq.”

Without mentioning the name of Iraq, Iran’s Javan newspaper noted that: “Some politicians in the allied countries should be careful that familiarity with diplomatic etiquette is very important and paying attention to details is very important in international relations.”

“It is better to avoid using the Gulf instead of the real name Persian Gulf,” the paper added.

The body of water was historically referred to as the “Persian Gulf” by the ancient Persians, and it has been called such for thousands of years. However, in recent decades, purportedly starting with the late Egyptian President and proponent of Pan-Arabism, Gamal Abdel Nasser, in the late 1950s it was also referred to as the “Arabian Gulf” in various Arab nations, particularly those in the Arabian Peninsula. The “Persian Gulf” is the internationally recognised name used by the UN.

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