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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces a Chaotic World and the Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid