Reporting on a story about the coral monitoring stations in the Persian Gulf, Green Prophet mistakenly labeled the major Middle East waterway the Arabian Gulf. A reader wrote us asking for a correction on the name which has deep historical and new political roots. Today we interview Daniel M. Pourkesali, an Iranian-American who is working to preserve the heritage of the Persian Gulf.
Tell us a little about you, who you are, where you come from, where you live now and what you do.
I live in Northern Virginia near Washington, DC working as a Manufacturing Electrical Engineer for an Aerospace company specializing in development and production of flight dynamics, engineering and control systems.
I was born in Babol, a city in the Mazandaran Province in Northern Iran and grew up in Tehran where I attended Andisheh Don Bosco School. I moved to the United States in 1978 to pursue my higher education in field of Aeronautics. I currently serve as the U.S. chapter President for the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention (CASMII) and hold membership in Persian Gulf Online, National Iranian American Council (NIAC), Iran Heritage organizations.
Tell us about the name preservation project you are part of and what this organization does.
Persian Gulf Organization (PGO) is made of many volunteer individuals across the globe dedicated to the defense and preservation of the historic name of the Persian Gulf through monitoring of electronic and other published media and news articles.
Why are names important to preserve from an environmental point of view?
Geographical names provide a link to our collective past as inhabitants of this fragile planet. Environmental changes normally take place over extended periods of time. Thus any serious study or discussion of such issues can not be influenced by interim political acts.
What is the historical significance of the Persian Gulf? Why not Arabian Gulf?
The name Persian Gulf has been the only label used for the body of water separating Iran from the Arabian Peninsula for the entire documented period of the human history in all languages and cultures. Use of Arabian Gulf by contrast is a recent phenomenon first promoted by nationalist Arab dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser and then followed by the Bathist regime of Saddam Hussein. The only known historical reference to a place as named Arabian Gulf was made by the Greek historian Herodotus in his book titled ‘The History of Herodotus’ written in 430 BC describing the present day Red Sea.
Tell us a little bit about nature in the Persian Gulf region and what makes it so special (ie corals, animals etc…)
Persian Gulf region is rich with shrimp and fishing grounds, wide-ranging coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has become increasingly under threat from the heavy industrialization and repeated oil spillages as a result of recent wars fought in the region.
According to a statement by Green Party of Iran, the Persian Gulf is many times more polluted than other free waters due to the global warming compounded by indiscriminate dumping of waste water in the region by oil companies and unchecked oil seepage.