Gulf Leaders Discuss UAE-Iran Island Dispute

Foreign Ministers of the Arabian Gulf states participate in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Doha, April 17, 2012
Foreign Ministers of the Arabian Gulf states participate in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Doha, April 17, 2012

Foreign ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council held an emergency meeting in Doha Tuesday to discuss a territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, which some believe could pose a threat to international security. The talks followed a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, a Persian Gulf island controlled by Iran, but also claimed by the UAE.

Iranian state media said Mr. Ahmadinejad traveled to the disputed territory last week to deal with domestic issues.

Abu Musa is one of three islands claimed by both Iran and the UAE that lie near the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic channel through which roughly one-fifth of the world’s oil supplies are shipped.

Iran threatened to close the strait earlier this year in response to sanctions targeting its nuclear program. Analysts said if Iran were to carry out the threat, it would likely use troops stationed on Abu Musa.

Ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan called on Tehran to end its “occupation” of the islands, saying it is not likely the consequences could “be contained by either the UAE or Iran” if the discord carried on much longer.

However, Iranian officials said their rule of the land is “not negotiable.”

Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, professor of political science at the UAE University, expects Mr. Ahmadinejad’s stopover in Abu Musa to become a turning point in the confrontation.

"I think the UAE now is going to change course. It used to follow a more diplomatic, a more quiet, more peaceful approach," Abdulla said. "From now on, I think all options are open for the UAE.”

Iran has had control of the three islands since 1971, but recently agreed to negotiations with the UAE to resolve the dispute.

Sheikh Abdullah says the Iranian president’s recent actions undermined the agreement and deepened the mistrust between Iran and its neighbors.

Sunni Arab states in the Gulf have become increasingly weary of Shi’ite Iran and accuse the country of fomenting unrest in Bahrain to extend its influence in the region.

Tehran denies the accusations, but has been highly critical of Bahrain’s crackdown on Shi’ite protesters, and even built a replica of the Pearl Roundabout monument on Abu Musa.  Destroyed by the government, the original monument has become a symbol of Bahrain’s opposition movement.

In light of the escalating tensions between Iran and its Arab neighbors, David Roberts - deputy director of the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in Qatar - suggests other regional issues will quickly overshadow the UAE’s territorial dispute with Iran.

“It’s in this argumentative accusatory context that we are talking about this and therefore, given that tensions are still quite high, I don’t see how there is enough space for a reasoned, measured discussion to take place,” Roberts said.

Abdulla also doubts a resolution is on the horizon. “I expect the days to come are going to be a very difficult time for the UAE-Iran relationship and the UAE-GCC relationship and 2012 is not going to be an easy year for either of us here, he said.

The UAE has urged Tehran to take the island dispute to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
April 19, 2012 8:58 PM
The islands belong to Iran. China will help Iran to defend those islands with its mighty navy.

by: Sina
April 19, 2012 7:06 PM
Please learn some geography! Are you talking about Mexican or Persian gulf?

Persian Gulf foreva!

by: Yasin
April 18, 2012 5:14 PM
you all I hope you want to be calm down , you should not judge other country we hope for making a obvious decision between Iran and UAE. they should make an agreement they can negotiate. they may use a peace talk. I don't agree to use violence despite that will be right but that makes worse.

by: Michael
April 17, 2012 11:02 PM
The Arabs are acting childish. The dispute was settled long ago. Iran got the islands while the Arabs got Bahrain. And "the Gulf" is called the Persian Gulf. But our anti-Iranian Zionist media is manipulating people to engage in a confrontation with Iran.

by: sharki
April 17, 2012 8:54 PM
The-twenty 1st century has downed upon the nation of the earth and most are striving to improve the lives of their people and yet it is the the Africa and by extension Med.East from Packestan to Iran to all Arab (and Muslim) countries that are griped by the whirlpool of poverty, ignorant, and terror and the their population unable to free them self from it. They have resort to busy themselves withe the silly issues and incorrect history from the "Book of hearsay".

by: sharki
April 17, 2012 8:39 PM
Palestinian lands are taken and eventually they will be forced to live in a reservation as others have don it from US to Australia and Arabs and Iranian Governments are impudent to do any thing about it, The Minority groups are terrorized in Iran and The Arab countries by the governments of these countries, and they are unable to change the Evil ways. ......

by: Maryam
April 17, 2012 4:42 PM
EXCUSE ME! The Emirati's build this useless Sand Castle at the courtesy of IRAN and the IRANIANS! They are pushing their worthless apartments and their worthless country to Iranians! WHO WOULD EVEN GO THERE! IRANIANS SHOULD EMBARGO THESE USELESS TURBINHEADS and let them starve to death. THESE ISLANDS BELONG TO IRAN. PERIOD! STOP TRAVELLING TO UAE, STOP BUYING APARTMENTS IN UAE! LONG LIVE IRAN And we hope and pray for COMMON SENSE, Peace and Harmony in the area!

by: siavash
April 17, 2012 10:29 AM
it is persian gulf not gulf stupid google and flower arab

by: siavash
April 17, 2012 10:27 AM
it is persian gulf not gulf stupid google and flower arab

by: siavash
April 17, 2012 10:27 AM
it is persian gulf not gulf stupid google and flower arab
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