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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A new "Persian Gulf" diplomatic crisis

From the WaPo:
Airlines not referring to the waterway between Iran and the Arabian peninsula as the Persian Gulf will be banned from Iranian airspace, the transport minister told local media Monday.

The warning was directed specifically toward the airlines of neighboring Gulf Arab countries who have a history of referring to the body of water as the "Arabian Gulf."

"The airlines of the southern Persian gulf countries flying to Iran must use 'Persian Gulf' on their flight monitors," Hamid Behbahani told the IRAN daily.

Airlines ignoring the warning would be banned from Iranian airspace, while repeat offenders would have their planes grounded in Iran and "the companies' flight permits to Iran canceled."

The report said Iran expelled a Greek flight attendant from the private Iranian airline, Kish Air, for using "Arabian Gulf" on a monitor over the weekend.

What most interested me in the Kish incident is that some Iranian airlines lease airplanes from other countries, including their flight crews.

This would be a nice way to leverage sanctions, if the West ever gets its act together.