Tell Secretary Clinton: Referring to Persian Gulf as “Arabian Gulf” Only Fuels Ethnic Tensions

Persian Gulf

Playing with ethnic tensions is not a strategy for stability in the Middle East.

But last week, the State Department broke longstanding protocol and used the politically and ethnically charged term “Arabian Gulf” instead of “Persian Gulf”.

The term was used in prepared remarks announcing a $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia intended to "stabilize the region."

But such an inaccurate, ethnically divisive term will only fuel regional tensions and increase instability.

Tell Secretary Clinton that the Persian Gulf is not the “Arabian Gulf” and playing with ethnic tensions is not a strategy for stability.

The Persian Gulf has been known by that name for over 2,500 years. It’s been recognized by the United Nations and the US State Department as the correct name for decades.

The term "Arabian Gulf" first appeared fifty years ago as Pan-Arabism propaganda aimed at unifying Arabs against Iranians, Israelis, and other non-Arabs in the Middle East. Saddam Hussein later co-opted the term to exploit ethnic rivalries in support of his regional ambitions. Later, Osama Bin Laden adopted the term in an attempt to boost his appeal.

The use of such an ethnically divisive term by the State Department during the announcement of one of the largest arm sales in history sends the wrong message.

On October 25th, NIAC sent a letter to Secretary Clinton, urging her to correct the record and reiterate that the “Persian Gulf” is the appropriate name.

Join us in calling on Secretary Clinton to correct the record and to instruct the State Department to uphold longstanding protocol when discussing the Persian Gulf >>

NIAC takes your privacy seriously and will not sell or share your information with any other organization or company.  


  • Targeted recipients based on your address


*Required fields

NIAC will protect your privacy and keep you informed about this and similar campaigns.


Dear [Decision Maker],

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]


National Iranian American Council (NIAC) | 1411 K Street NW, Suite 250 | Washington, DC 20005