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Mon 3 Oct 2011 08:04 AM

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Iran tells UAE disputed islands are ‘ours forever’

Countries caught in diplomatic spat over sovereignty of three islands

Iran tells UAE disputed islands are ‘ours forever’
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan addresses the UN Assembly

Iranian authorities have hit back at UAE attempts to resolve
a ownership dispute over three islands claiming they “will remain [ours]
forever”.

Iran on Sanday denounced UAE claims of sovereignty over the
islands of Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs and accused “foreign powers” of
pushing the Gulf state to renew its claims.

“This is an issue that was dictated on [the foreign
minister] by foreign powers who want the Middle East to always be mired in
conflict and tension,” Kazem Jalali, spokesperson for the Committee on National
Security and Foreign Policy of the Iranian Shura Council, said in a statement
to state-backed Fars News Agency.

The statement follows a UN Assembly address last week by the
UAE Foreign Minister urging Iran to resolve the dispute by direct negotiations
or via the UN International Court of Justice.

In a fresh moved aimed at resolving the row Sheikh Abdullah
Bin Zayed Al Nahyan called on Iran to defend the “illegitimate occupation of
these islands” in the International Court of Justice, or to agree to direct
bilateral negotiations.

“The actions taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran with the
aim of changing the legal, physical and demographic situation of the islands
are null and void and have no legal effect whatsoever,” said Sheikh Al Nahyan.

The UN address is an attempt to push the agenda into the
international headlines, said Theodore Karasik, director of research and
development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

“Here is an example of the UAE trying to gain international
recognition for the status of the islands because from their point of view they
are occupied,” he said.

“I think we’re entering the next chapter of the UAE seeking
to legally gain back these islands so this is meant to bring it back into the
press because it had faded a bit. It’s time to bring the issue back up again…so
this is why you see this push,” he said.

Iran is a significant trade partner for the UAE, with trade
volume between Iran and Dubai - which are separated by just 54km across the
Strait of Hormuz - estimated at $10bn a year.

But relations between the two countries have waned in the
wake of fresh United Nations sanctions, imposed last year, aimed at forcing
Iran to curtail its nuclear programme. Dubai’s Iranian Business Council in
December predicted trade between the UAE and Iran would decline by as much as
50 percent in 2010 to $6bn.

The president of the Iranian Business Council in Dubai said
he didn’t think the latest push by UAE authorities would affect trade between
the two countries.

“These issues have been there for some time and has hasn’t
really affected business as far as we know for the past few years,” said Hamid
Reza Hamidi.

Arbmeister 8 years ago

Dear Arabian Business, this is hitting the news from time to time. But what is the actual story behind it? How did the dispute evolve and what are the historic facts behind it? Could you enlighten a curious reader?

Ahmad 8 years ago

I encourage the UAE to place a trade embargo on Iran until they stop this hegemonic approach to these islands that rightfully belong to the UAE. I would also limit Iranian tourist visas entering the UAE. How dare they insult and be aggressive to the UAE who is a formative trade partner.

UAE 8 years ago

This is somewhat of a catch 22. Emiratis are made up of a very large originally Iranian population, whom of course have now naturalised as Emiratis. There are very successful originally Iranian Emiratis with very successful congolomerates running in the UAE. Although the Islands in question should rightfully go to its real soveriegn, I belive if the UAE really want them back they need to take some firm action, not violence though. Cancelling all naturalisation applications still pending from originally Iranian residents would be a start, followed by carefully selected deportation of naturalised residents back to Iran. These strong ties don't serve as beneficial to the UAE at all. Returning back to its routes would certainly help in maintain a position of respect, rather than trying to be ultra modernistic. When the right balance is struck between Islamic routes, eradication of arrogance and human rights will things start to fall in place in a positive manner. Vivre UAE?

Salim Shaikh 8 years ago

I think UAE should gift these Islands to Iran and even if not, the last thing they should ever do is fight over them. Allah has blessed UAE with so much, if they want they can make ten more islands around it (like Dubai World) if they want.

opsecusa 8 years ago

Iran tells UAE disputed islands are ‘ours forever’ .... No such thing as forever. Things can change quickly. It is just a matter of time, the 3 islands are coming back to the UAE and there is nothing Iran can do about it.

Alan Mirs 8 years ago

In his 1892 book Persia and the Persian Question, George Nathaniel Curzon, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India recognized the islands as belonging to Iran, but a decade later in 1902 the British occupied the islands as a buffer against the growing Russian and later Soviet influence in Southern Iran.

Being afraid of the growing Russian and later Soviet influence in the Southern regions of Iran, the British forces occupied three Iranian islands, named Abu Mousa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb in the year 1902.

Iran and Britain fought over the islands for decades until 1968, when the Britons pulled their troops out from the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf as a reconciliatory stance.

Then, in 1971, as the colonial protectorate of Ras al-Khaimeh and Sharjah, Iran signed an agreement with Sharjah with the arbitration of British government to take responsibility for the islands’ security while recognizing the sovereignty of Bahrain and the UAE

procan 8 years ago

Salim interesting advice will your country also defend its land in a similar manner your enemies are dying to know.

Red Snappa 8 years ago

Really unless the UAE do something about this, they will continue to demonstrate that Iran holds all the regional power cards. A position that Iran is keen to maintain and will continue to flaut these islands in the UAE's face. If you believe these islands are yours then come and get them.

Being wealthy is one thing, being put upon by others is quite another. The fact that Iran is so intransigent yet receives much of its consumables via Dubai, is biting the hand that feeds you in some respects.

Salim Shaikh 8 years ago

Friendship, free movement and trade is more important then unshared possessions held behind closed borders. UAE and Iran should look at their $ 10 Billion healthy trade and forget talking about those Islands.

Steve Garrett 8 years ago

If the occupied islands is such a thorny issue between the UAE and Iran then how come Iranians are welcomed to set up their business in the UAE and why would the Dubai based Arabian Radio Network (ARN) launch a new FM station targeting Farsi speakers?