UAE condemns Iran over continued occupation of islands
LONDON - The United Arab Emirates has again voiced displeasure over Iran’s occupation of the island of Abu Musa and the nearby Greater and Lesser Tunb islands, reigniting a long-standing territorial dispute.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash described Iran’s control over the Hormuz Strait islands, which are claimed by the UAE, as an “illegal occupation.”
Iran seized the islands in November 1971, claiming they had been part of the Persian Empire since 1622. Britain, which occupied the islands in 1921, had placed the islands under the administration of the Emirate of Sharjah.
“Tehran embarrasses itself at every international forum because its occupation [of the islands] remains illegal, illegitimate and unrecognised,” Gargash posted on Twitter March 4.
The Iranian position is “illogical because its basis is occupation by force… and is not supported by legal or historical foundation,” Gargash said.
He said Iran had rejected calls from the United Arab Emirates to resolve the issue through “dialogue and arbitration.”
Gargash’s comments come after Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers meeting, which concluded with a declaration urging Tehran “to respond positively to the peaceful calls of the UAE to reach a peaceful solution which ends the Iranian occupation of the three Emirati islands, through dialogue and direct negotiations or by seeking international arbitration.”
“We reiterate our demands to our neighbour Iran to review its policy and to stop interference in the affairs of states, supporting groups that fuel conflicts and to stop supporting, financing and arming terrorist organisations that clearly violate our [OIC] charter, the Charter of the United Nations and our Islamic values,” UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said at the OIC meeting.
Dubai’s Gulf News reported that Saudi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said Iran continues to commit terrorist activities, flaring up sectarian sedition, supporting terrorism and occupying the three UAE islands.
Jubeir reaffirmed the UAE’s sovereignty over the islands and reiterated the call for all peaceful means taken by the United Arab Emirates to restore its sovereignty over the occupied islands.
Iran labelled the OIC remarks as “same old false claims.” The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi as saying there was “no doubt” about Iran’s sovereignty over the disputed islands. He said the UAE foreign minister’s remarks will not change the legal status of the islands.
This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.