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Sticks & Stones: Street Naming and Diplomatic Trolling Around the World

© Sputnik / Ilya Pitalev / Go to the photo bankThe building of the American Embassy in Moscow
The building of the American Embassy in Moscow - Sputnik International
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Turkey has apparently come up with a new plan to get their point across to the United States about the current situation in Syria, by using the very streets of its capital to convey the message, same way as many world powers before it traded barbs via name-calling.

Turkish lawmakers have recently proposed renaming the street in Ankara where the US embassy is located, changing its name to Olive Branch Street – a clear reference to the ongoing military operation in Syria’s Afrin against the Kurdish militias backed by the United States.

© AP Photo / Burhan OzbiliciA Turkish riot police van is stationed outside the US Embassy as supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were expected to come to protest, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 18, 2016
A Turkish riot police van is stationed outside the US Embassy as supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were expected to come to protest, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 18, 2016 - Sputnik International
A Turkish riot police van is stationed outside the US Embassy as supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were expected to come to protest, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, July 18, 2016

This measure, however, is hardly an original or unprecedented move as other countries have often resorted to such tactics in the recent and not-so-recent past.

US and Russia

In 2017, US Senator Marco Rubio proposed changing the name of the street in front of the Russian embassy in Washington DC to Boris Nemtsov Plaza, after a former Russian deputy prime minister turned opposition activist who was killed in Moscow in 2015.

CC BY-SA 2.5 / Asiir / Embassy of Russia in Washington DC Embassy of Russia in Washington DC
 Embassy of Russia in Washington DC - Sputnik International
Embassy of Russia in Washington DC

A similar move was also employed by the US government during the Cold War, when in 1984 a street near the USSR embassy was named after Soviet era dissident Andrei Sakharov.

In 2018 Russian lawmakers also proposed renaming the street near the US embassy in Moscow into  North American Dead End, but the city administration rejected the initiative.

© Sputnik / Ilia Pitalev / Go to the photo bankThe building of the American Embassy in Moscow
The building of the American Embassy in Moscow - Sputnik International
The building of the American Embassy in Moscow

Iran and UK

In 1981, Winston Churchill Street in Tehran, where the British embassy is located, was renamed after Bobby Sands, a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and British MP who died during a hunger strike while incarcerated at the Maze Prison.

© REUTERS / Darren StaplesA plague marks the re-opening of the British Embassy by Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Tehran, Iran August 23, 2015
A plague marks the re-opening of the British Embassy by Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Tehran, Iran August 23, 2015 - Sputnik International
A plague marks the re-opening of the British Embassy by Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Tehran, Iran August 23, 2015

China and US

Since 2014, the US Congress has pondered renaming a street in front of the Chinese embassy in Washington DC after Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

© AFP 2021 / Robert MacPhersonThe Chinese Embassy is viewed on May 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. Wuer Kaixi, a renowned pro-democracy Chinese activist who has been wanted by Beijing, arrived at the Chinese Embassy in Washington to turn himself in to the Chinese authorities
The Chinese Embassy is viewed on May 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. Wuer Kaixi, a renowned pro-democracy Chinese activist who has been wanted by Beijing, arrived at the Chinese Embassy in Washington to turn himself in to the Chinese authorities - Sputnik International
The Chinese Embassy is viewed on May 18, 2012 in Washington, DC. Wuer Kaixi, a renowned pro-democracy Chinese activist who has been wanted by Beijing, arrived at the Chinese Embassy in Washington to turn himself in to the Chinese authorities

Beijing however responded in kind, offering to name the street in the Chinese capital where the US embassy is located after Edward Snowden, an NSA whistleblower who exposed the US global covert surveillance program, or after Monika Lewinski, a White House intern involved in a sex scandal with then-US President Bill Clinton in 1990s.

© AP Photo / Andy WongA Chinese woman checks her documents as she walks past the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Friday, May 6, 2011
A Chinese woman checks her documents as she walks past the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Friday, May 6, 2011 - Sputnik International
A Chinese woman checks her documents as she walks past the U.S. Embassy in Beijing Friday, May 6, 2011

US and India

During the Vietnam War, the US consulate in Kolkata found itself located on Ho Chi Minh Street after the Communist Party of India won the regional elections and renamed the street.

© AP Photo / Bikas DasIndian policemen create a barricade at the end of an over bridge leading to the U.S. Consulate anticipating a protest against "Innocence of Muslims," a film made in the U.S. that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012
Indian policemen create a barricade at the end of an over bridge leading to the U.S. Consulate anticipating a protest against Innocence of Muslims, a film made in the U.S. that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 - Sputnik International
Indian policemen create a barricade at the end of an over bridge leading to the U.S. Consulate anticipating a protest against "Innocence of Muslims," a film made in the U.S. that ridicules Islam's Prophet Muhammad in Kolkata, India, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012
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