News / Middle East

Tensions High on Anniversary of Iran-UAE Islands Row

An ongoing territorial dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates over three strategic islands in the Persian Gulf is nearing the four-decade mark with both sides becoming increasingly vocal on the issue.  

Abu Musa, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb had been under British control when Iran seized the islands on November 30, 1971.

The military invasion, which reportedly left six people dead, took place just hours before the United Arab Emirates officially became a country, and it was not until 1980 that Abu Dhabi took the island dispute to the United Nations.

Fast-forward 30 years and the situation is more or less the same.

Speaking at the 65th U.N. General Assembly in September, UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan demanded the return of the disputed territories and said Iran's occupation would remain illegal no matter how long it lasts.

The islands have been historically important for two reasons: oil reserves and their proximity to the Straight of Hormuz, through which roughly one-fifth of the world's oil supplies are shipped on a daily basis.

According to the director of security at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, Mustafa Alani, Iran has been building up a military presence on the islands and will use troops stationed there in an attempt to block the Straight if Tehran is attacked over its controversial nuclear program.  This would have a major impact on global oil markets.

"We think that they [Iran] maintain their occupation for strategic reasons," said Alani. "They have no legal right, absolutely not. There is a major issue here in the region because these islands are very close to the Straight of Hormuz, which is the lifeline for all the shipping in the region."

Director of research and development at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai, Theodore Karasik, believes the islands would be early targets in any armed conflict between Iran and Western powers.

"If there is a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear-weapons program, those islands will be taken out by the U.S. Air Force pretty quickly," said Karasik. "And in addition to that, at that point, I believe the UAE will move in its forces and reclaim the islands."

Earlier this week, the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks published 250,000 U.S. diplomatic documents that were said to be top secret.  They suggest that many Arab countries support a military attack on Iran to halt its nuclear activities and even imply that the United Arab Emirates has referred to Tehran as "evil."

Most nations believe Iran is attempting to assemble nuclear weapons although Tehran has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Brookings Doha Center Research Director Shadi Hamid says fear among the Gulf nations has been brewing for some time.

"These increasing fears have spread from GCC officials," said Hamid. "Of course we saw when the UAE ambassador to the United States said some very striking things about Iran a couple months ago where he actually urged the United States to use force against Iran.  So we are seeing intensification of anti-Iran rhetoric on the part of many Gulf officials."

Tehran insists the disputed islands in the Gulf are an indisputable part of Iranian territory.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid