From Britain’s Efforts for Hong Kongization of the Iranian Islands to Saddam Army’s Communiqués

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Majid Tafreshi
Iran-UK Affairs Analyst

The recent media and diplomatic hype launched by the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over three Iranian islands can be considered a new round of miscalculation and insistence on ignoring “more than three centuries of papers, documents, and written history of the Persian Gulf and three Iranian islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa.”

For a whole decade, I have been painstakingly studying several thousands of pages of official historical documents available at international archives, especially Britain’s National Archives and the British Library, on the Persian Gulf and historical background of sovereignty over and ownership of the aforesaid three islands.

The more one analyzes such documents, the more they reach the conclusion that how baseless is the insistence of UAE rulers and their affiliated media and propagandists about the three Iranian islands belonging to UAE and how far are such claims from the existing realities.

The UAE leaders’ claims over the islands are the result of support they have received from expansionist and aggressive policies of the Western states in the Persian Gulf during the past two centuries. That support especially started at the beginning of the 19th century by Britain and has continued in military terms through military presence of the United States after the British army left the region. Britain, however, still continues its media and propaganda support for UAE’s claims over the Iranian islands.

For 40 years, UAE has been more like a spoiled child which instead of relying on its own power and knowledge, has banked on the support and power of its father or master. Therefore, its rulers have been waiting for a good opportunity, in order to create the present hype over the Iranian islands in favor of sworn enemies of Iran’s national interests.

Historical experiences, especially during 33 years that have passed since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, have proven that UAE’s hostility toward Iran’s national interests, especially over ownership and sovereignty of the three islands, has been in fact an indirect effort by the government of Abu Dhabi against Tehran which has been launched through the support and blessing of UAE’s Western supporters and godfathers that pursue their own national interests.

Another issue is the support offered for UAE’s claims by some Arab countries of the Persian Gulf region. During recent years and in the midst of political and territorial disputes among Arab states of the Persian Gulf, which even included seven sheikdoms of UAE, Arab states which were humiliated in their interaction with the US and Europe and proved unable of managing the crisis between Palestinians and Israelis, have made an artificial effort to turn the issue of three Iranian islands into a nationalistic issue for Arabs. In this way, they aimed to cover up differences as well as regional and international failures of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.

Apart from documents related to three Iranian islands which date back to several centuries ago, there have been tens of thousands of documents in the past 40 years on the scope and extent of hostility of this newly-established and pompous neighbor of Iran, both before and after the Islamic Revolution, which are full of lessons.

Since about 200 years ago, especially after Iran’s sovereignty was restored over three islands in November 1971, this issue has been used as a leverage to overshadow regional developments and help big powers to extort concessions from various Iranian governments. The important point, however, is that no Iranian government (good or bad; popular or unpopular) has ever been willing or able to deny Iran’s historical sovereignty over these three islands and other Iranian territories in the Persian Gulf.

Even after 1903, when due to weakness of Mozaffar-ed-din Shah Qajar’s government the British military forcefully occupied the three islands, no Iranian government gave up Iran’s historical right to ownership of the islands. This historical reality has been mentioned even in confidential correspondence between the Iranian government and Britain or other countries.

The issue of the three islands is not the sole feature of Britain’s anti-Iranian, expansionist, and imperialistic policy in the Persian Gulf. Perhaps few people know that there are about 10,000 pages of documents at Britain’s National Archives which show that in the second decade of the 20th century, especially during the World War I, the British government had put tremendous pressure on various Iranian governments over Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf. According to those documents, Britain aimed to occupy all Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf by resorting to force, purchasing them, or leasing them on a long-term basis from the Iranian government in the same way that they did in Hong Kong.

None of the Iranian governments, both popular ones and dictatorships, ever gave in to such anti-Iranian demand which was in total contrast to the country’s national interests and territorial integrity. What the Emirati visual, audio, written and virtual media, especially those published in Dubai, are currently using in their media hype against Iran is, therefore, just for propaganda and lacks any historical value. An example was an article entitled “Historical Quest for Dominance in [Persian] Gulf” which appeared on the English website of Gulf News daily on April 13, 2012. The article included a timeline showing history and backdrop of Iran's sovereignty over the three islands from the beginning of 1970s.

The supposedly erudite associate editor of the daily, Samir Salama, who had written the article, should be well aware of the historical background of Iran's sovereignty over the three islands. However, he shows no willingness to go behind the establishment of the nascent government of his country and apparently does not believe that history actually existed before the government in Abu Dhabi came into being!

In its entirety, this article, like many others which have been published in the past 40 years at the expense of the UAE government by recruiting Arab and Western authors whose aim is to distort history of the islands and their Iranian identity, is full of lies. Or perhaps, as put by the former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, they want to be thrifty on the side of telling the truth.

Since Iran and Britain concluded their historical agreement in November 1971 which restored Iran's sovereignty over the three islands, especially following victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the government of Abu Dhabi has made frequent attempts to use the issue of islands as a leverage to put pressure on Iran.

After the Islamic Revolution, UAE and other Arab states of the region kept their fingers crossed that pressure from the US and the UK will force Iran into relinquishing its sovereign right over the islands. Later on, that mission was entrusted to the former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, who was made by leaders of the UAE and other Arab sheikdoms into believing that he would defeat Iran in a week and conquer the country in a month and then submit the islands to the UAE.

Communiqués issued by the Baathist army of Iraq still exist. They clearly show that Saddam’s third demand from Iran was to give up its sovereignty over Shat al-Arab (Arvand River) in favor of Iraq. His second demand was separation of Khuzestan province from Iran while his first request was giving back the ownership of the three Iranian islands to the UAE. Now, the Emirati government is sailing along the winds blown by foreign powers in the region and believes that internal differences in Iran have provided it with a good opportunity to question Iran's historical and official ownership over the islands. This is why the UAE is raising Cain over the recent visit of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa Island.

The Iranian nation, for its part, is angry at the incumbent president and his predecessors in relation to visiting Abu Musa. Of course, the Iranian nation is angry because it wonders why such a visit to Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb has been taken so belatedly. They ask why the three islands should be endeared at such long intervals instead of emphasizing Iran's ownership of the islands on a daily basis.

The history of three islands and tens of thousands of historical documents at international archives prove Iran's historical ownership of the three islands. At times, they had been forcefully occupied by Britain or even been occupied for short periods of time by Arab pirates. However, there is no historical corroboration of the UAE’s sovereignty over the three islands in any way.

Key Words: Persian Gulf, Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, UAE, Iranian Islands,Territorial Integrity, Iran’s Sovereignty, Iraq, Tafreshi 

Source: Asriran News Website
Translated By: Iran Review

More By Majid Tafreshi:

*Cutting UK Ties Is a Mistake:

*A Threat with Unpredictable Consequences:

*Iran’s Historical, Evident and Indisputable Sovereignty over the Three Islands:’s_Historical_Evident_and_Indisputable_Sovereignty_over_the_Three_Islands_Part_II_.htm