View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Sunday, March 30, 2008

UAE Angers Iran over Claiming Gulf Islands

The Arab Summit in Syria has wound up (30 March 2008) and will be remembered for its ‘no show’ by high profile leaders and the deep divisions between Arab nations.

One tension that has been fuelled during the Summit has been the decision by Arab leaders to support the UAE in its territorial dispute with Iran.

A Damascus Declaration at the end of the summit of 22 Arab states in the Syrian capital urged the UAE to seek "legal and peaceful ways to regain" three Islands in the Gulf controlled by non-Arab Iran and claimed by the UAE.

The Islamic republic’s immediate response was to say that the UAE's claims were "vain and baseless" and it dismissed the statement as interference in its affairs.

The dispute over the three islands (Abu Musa and the Lesser and Greater Tunb islands) in the Gulf has been going on for years. Although this represents a small land area (the largest of the three, Abu Musa is 12 sq miles), the dispute includes the important issues of potential oil sources, the strategic location whereby control of the islands affects shipping flow (especially of oil tankers), security and the environmental concerns to preserve the beauty of the islands and not create damage especially during oil explorations.

A case study by W. Corbett Dabbs entitled, ‘Abu Musa: Island Dispute Between Iran and the UAE, 1996 is helpful material in understanding the history of these islands and this dispute, although it is always important to discover which side of the Gulf different authors are supporting.

Source: ‘Arab Summit Backs UAE Claim on Islands, Tehran Angry’, Reuters, 30 March 2008.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Strait of Hormuz and the three islands (Thanks to Wikipedia for this image). Click to magnify.