Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Peace over the Hormuz Islands?

Abu Musa and Great and Lesser Tunb islands are occupied by Iran but claimed by the United Arab Emirates in a dispute which goes back at least to the formation of the latter country in 1971.  Today, however, comes a report a diplomatic breakthrough might be near:
Sources close to the negotiations have stated that a deal for the return of the strategic islands to the UAE was laid out during the recent visit of UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan to Tehran, and a response was presented during last week’s return visit by his Iranian counterpart, Mohammed Javad Zarif...
Last year, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command (IRGC) inaugurated a naval base on Abu Musa. Karasik said the naval base housed hundreds of short-range missiles “for Tehran’s security purposes over the Strait of Hormuz.”
Last week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani extended an invitation to Khalifa and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid to visit Iran.
“The situation is a win-win because the Islamic Republic wants to put aside this contentious issue while the UAE can claim its historical rights to the islands,” Karasik said.
In addition to the strategic benefits, a deal could mean large economic benefits for both countries, he added, “given Dubai’s economic linkages with Iran, and the fact that they both stand to benefit from the lifting of the sanctions.”
My understanding is that, within the United Arab Emirates, the islands had also been disputed between the emirates of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah, and that the former had collaborated a bit with the Iranian occupation in 1971.  I'm not sure if that is still an active issue.

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