Masterminds of Divisive Scenarios in Persian Gulf

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ebrahim Araqia

Despite the positive steps the Iranian diplomacy has taken for détente in the Persian Gulf region certain fanatic Arab circles have still pursue divisive subjects within the Iranian sovereign territory. The divisive measures of these circles are being followed in two directions: The first direction is distortion of history and the background of the Persian Gulf which is done mainly through investment in the media and cultural centers by rich Arab lobbies. The second direction is to keep the United Arab Emirates away from Iran by creating division over the three Iranian islands, particularly the Island of Abu Mousa. The latter scenario is usually pursued by fanatic Arab diplomats in political forums and conferences in the region. Due to the efforts of these very Arab diplomats, the issue of the islands is raised in the monthly or seasonal meetings of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council or the Arab League. Now, the important question here is what aims and objectives do the Arab princess, particularly those from the UAE follow behind the question of the islands in their foreign policy?


The United Arab Emirates is the only state which despite some economic progress is facing serious security challenges. The seven emirates, members of the confederation (Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaima and Umm al-Quwain), have numerous differences with each other.

In the opinion of Persian Gulf affairs experts, by fanning the flames of differences with IRI, some of these disputes between the UAE states have been shelved for now. The process of national integration has still not been implemented in the country. The UAE lacked a constitution until 1992 and the 1971 provisional constitution had been renewed each time.

In line with the disputes between the UAE states, Abu Dhabi, as the biggest state tried to impose its foreign policy on others by raising the question of Abu Mousa Island. This was despite efforts made once by the ruler of Sharjah, Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammad al-Qasi to settle the dispute with Iran over the island. But an intervention by Abu Dhabi neutralized his attempt. The announcement by Abu Dhabi that the question of Abu Mousa related to the whole UAE and not Sharjah was to show that foreign diplomacy was an issue for the entire confederation.


A review of history of foreign policy of the Western powers over the past century in the Persian Gulf will clearly show that territorial disputes are the best pretext for them to maintain military presence. Despite the big developments in the international order, no change has taken place in this part of the US strategy towards the Persian Gulf issues.

In the same line and after the Kuwait war in 1990s, Washington’s geopolitical calculations were concentrated on weakening the regional power of the Persian Gulf. Based on the political purport of this doctrine, the then American president founded his strategy on escalation of the division between the two sides of the Persian Gulf.

Under Bush, the junior, this strategy was followed with wider dimensions. The strategy of the unipolar system in the Persian Gulf required new groupings in the regional countries: Those countries which were in line with US policies and those which were not. The ideological justification of the White House was that the PGCC states are vulnerable against Iran. Iran was apparently an important source of threat against these countries only from ideological point of view.

The grounds for execution of this policy began in 1992 when Zbigniew Brzezinski, a national security advisor to Jimmy Carter announced in January the same year that one of the outcomes of the Persian Gulf War was to turn Iran into the biggest power in the Persian Gulf. In fact, after liberation of Kuwait and weakening of Iraq there was no need for the continued presence of American troops in the region. Therefore, Washington needed something more than Iran’s military consolidation and threat for its continued presence in the region. Because the mere claim that Iran’s military strength was a threat against the Arab states in the region was not good enough particularly because Tehran had played a peaceful role in the course of the Kuwaiti occupation. Thus the Americans for the first time fanned the flames of Iran-UAE disputes.

In 1992 and immediately after the end of the first Persian Gulf War, the Americans unexpectedly announced that the issue of the three islands must be taken up. Of course, they claimed that the dispute has no military solution and must be settled through peaceful means. The US ambassador to an Arab country said new methods must be sought to resolve the crisis over the strategic island of Abu Mousa. This was followed by a report in Washington Times that US interests required Washington to isolate Iran and make it unstable without military confrontation but through huge economic investment.

Unfortunately the issue of the islands has not been analyzed from the angel that the in line with establishing a new order, the US strategy required renewal of the disputes on the two banks of the Persian Gulf. A content analysis of the talks the American diplomats have held with the Arabs under the eight years of Bush presidency will help us immediately realize to what extent Washington has benefited from the scenario of an “Iranian threat” to persuade the Persian Gulf Arabs to follow its policies. Based on this same policy of a hypothetical Iranian enemy the United States has signed joint defense agreements with Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the UAE and Saudi Arabia; hold joint war games with these countries and take under control their arms markets for an unspecified period of time by inking arms sale contracts worth 60 billion dollars.

Continuation of this policy by the next US administration is also likely. Obama and McCain will both be concerned about the trend of purification of relations between Iran and the regional states because the US foreign policy law finds such integration contrary to its regional interests. As long as Iran demands withdrawal of foreign troops from the Persian Gulf and establishment of security by the Persian Gulf littoral states, the US would try to check expansion of Tehran’s relations with the regional countries. In doing so, raising claims against the three Iranian islands and provoking Iran’s southern neighbors would be the easiest way.


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