Baseless Claims on Three Iranian Islands

Monday, April 14, 2008

Firouzeh Mirrazavi 

Damascus played host to a meeting on March 31 which was supposed to see into the most pressing issues the Arab world is currently facing. However, the issue of three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf (Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa) came into focus and heads of Arab League member states issued a statement, reiterating their support for the United Arab Emirates territorial claims over the islands. While emphasizing on a peaceful solution to the issue, they stressed that the three Iranian islands should be returned to the UAE in such a way that brotherly relations between Iran and Arab countries are not affected. Also, during the closing ceremony of the meeting, Amr Mousa, secretary-general of the Arab League, called for immediate negotiations between Iran and the UAE over the islands and even noted that, if needed, the case should be forwarded to the Hague Tribunal.

Secretary-general of the Arab League even went as far as calling the Iranian islands as UAE islands. Apart from him, the Libyan leader, General Qaddafi , also emphasized that Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb, and Abu Mousa islands belong to the UAE and in line with statements of the Arab League secretary-general, called for the case to be referred to the Hague Tribunal.

The prelude to these developments, which should alarm Tehran under existing conditions that Iran is facing in the region, was a meeting of regional Arab countries about one month earlier in which the participants issued a statement calling for the islands to be returned to the United Arab Emirates.

The issue of the three islands dates back to 1904 when the British government decided to occupy Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb, and Abu Mousa islands due to their important strategic position. The British statesmen then appointed ruler of Lengeh Port as ruler of the three islands. However, all historical documents prove that Britain’s claims are not legally tenable because all geographical maps of the Persian Gulf, especially one which was drawn by the British Ministry of War and was presented to Nasser-ed-din Shah of Iran by Queen Victoria, clearly prove that the islands belong to Iran and are an indispensable part of the Iranian territory. The issue of the three islands, however, entered a new phase after the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1991. At that time, some natives of Sharjah illegally entered Abu Mousa and created a situation which has not been solved yet even through the 1971 Accord on the legal status of UAE nationals in Abu Mousa. In this way, the issue of the islands has continuously led to hot periodic debates between Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

While rejecting all false claims as to the islands, the Islamic Republic of Iran has forwarded its official response to such claims to secretary-general of the United Nations through Iran’s diplomatic mission at the UN and Iran’s response has been circulated as the official document of the United Nations Security Council. According to that document, the Islamic Republic of Iran has categorically rejected UAE’s baseless claims as to the Iranian islands of Lesser Tunb, Greater Tunb, and Abu Mousa and has noted that the islands are inseparable parts of the Iranian territory. Iran has also explained that UAE’s claims are totally unfounded and devoid of any legal value or effect.

Let’s hope for the day that regional countries would give up their unfounded territorial claims with regard to Iranian lands and join hands to throw the foreign occupying forces out of the region as a first step toward restitution of peace and stability in the region.

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