Iran is commemorating the National Day of the Persian Gulf. Honoring the occasion, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has highlighted the significance of the strategic body of water, describing it as a “lifeline” for the country.
Every year, Iranians observe the Persian Gulf Day on the 10th of Ordibehesht, the second month on the Persian calendar, which usually falls on April 30.
The date coincides with the anniversary of a successful military campaign by Shah Abbas I of Persia in 1622, which drove the Portuguese navy out of the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway which separates the Persian Gulf from the Sea of Oman.
The national occasion is meant to call attention to the fact that the inland sea has been referred to by historians and ancient texts as the Persian Gulf since the Achaemenid Empire was established in what is now modern day Iran.
‘Special focus on the word Persian’
Honoring the national day in an Instagram post on Monday, Zarif released a video of his recent interview with the Asia Society last week, in which he underlined the historical identity of the Persian Gulf and clarified that those who use the fictitious name the “Arabian” Gulf to refer to the sea are, in fact, attempting to “revise history.”
Zarif was apparently referring to certain Arab states and their allies, which have recently mounted attempts to remove the word ‘Persian’ from the name of the gulf.
“It’s called [the] Persian Gulf and we repeat the word Persian so that people know it’s not the Gulf of Mexico. People just call it “the Gulf” because it’s easier, and people confuse that it may be the Gulf of Mexico that we’re talking about.”
The top Iranian diplomat warned the US against any measure to prevent Tehran from using the Strait of Hormuz as a safe passage for the transit of its oil.
“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline … so stability of [the] Persian Gulf, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf, [and] free flow of oil in the Persian Gulf [are] in our vital national security interest,” Zarif said.
“We guarantee [the security and stability of the Persian Gulf] as long as it is in our national security interest. If we are prevented from using [the] Persian Gulf for our national security, then why should we guarantee it?” he added, noting, “If the United States takes the crazy measure of trying to prevent us from doing that, then it should be prepared for the consequences.”
The administration of US President Donald Trump has stepped up its attempts to cut Iranian oil sales, threatening sanctions on countries that continue purchasing Iranian crude after May 1.
The Persian Gulf — which spans some 250,000 square kilometers — is bounded by the Arvand River in the north, which forms the frontier between Iran and Iraq, and the Strait of Hormuz in the south, which links the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Oman and the Indian Ocean.
The Persian Gulf is also important as an international trade route connecting the Middle East to Africa, India and China.