Iranian top official Ali Akbar Velayati said this Friday that the UAE may risk the security of the region by claiming three islands that are ‘integral part of Iran’s territory’.
This Friday, Ali Akbar Velayati, an Iranian top foreign policy official said in a language of warning against the United Arab Emiratis (UAE) that the claims of ownership that the Arab state has over three islands in the Strait of Hormuz located in the Persian Gulf could very well “destabilize the region’s security”.
Speaking to Al Jazeera this Friday evening, the foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, once again reiterated Tehran’s stance towards the three islands, the Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, and asserted that these islands are a part of Iran’s history and are an “integral part of our territory”.
For no evidence-based reason, the UAE claims that the three islands in the Strait of Hormuz that have been governed by Iran since 1971 are part of its territory and they must be returned to the Arab state.
“The UAE’s claims regarding the three islands have created problems between two neighboring countries,” Velayati said. “We will not allow any false claims regarding the Persian Gulf to become a reality.”
“Repeated claims by the UAE about the three islands will destabilize the region’s security,” he also noted. “We do not want conflict with our neighbors and are keen on peace without compromising on the integrity of our lands,” Velayati said.
Velayati further noted that countries in the region “have no alternative” other than to strengthen their ties with one another and end their years-long disagreements and conflicts.
“We’re convinced of the need to establish regional security and are ready to implement this with neighboring states,” Velayati added, citing the improvement of ties with traditional foe Saudi Arabia.
It was last week that Tehran and Riyadh exchanged ambassadors, in an effort to move forward their restoration of bilateral ties after seven years of political stalemate between the two countries.
The Three Persian Gulf islands, room for contention since 1971
For more than half a century, the dispute over who owns the three strategic islands in the Persian Gulf has continued between Iran and the UAE. The origin of the conflict dates back exactly to 1971, when after the British navy withdrew its forces from what is today the UAE, the then-shah of Iran dispatched his royal navy to the three islands.
Since then, the UAE leaders have maintained that the islands belong to them not Iran, and they have had the support from other Arab countries as well. Iran, however, has dismissed these claims, and has strongly rejected the possibility of any negotiations over their ownership. This is while over the past weeks, the islands have increasingly become the subject of political tensions between Iran and the UAE.
Back in August, Iran launched a military drill in the islands to show who owns the area and what happens if anyone question the sovereignty of Iran over the islands.
Also in July, when a joint statement from Russia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) challenged Iran’s rights over the islands and said that Iran and the UAE should negotiate over their ownership, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian envoy in Tehran to protest against the controversial statement.
A similar move was also carried out by China in December, when President Xi Jinping and the GCC signed a joint statement that supported the UAE’s right to follow up on the ownership of the islands internationally. Likewise, the Iranian foreign ministry summoned the Chinese ambassador to Tehran to protest against the move.