UAE renews claim over disputed Persian Gulf islands, demands Iran cease ‘occupation’

The Cradle, September 25, 2022 — The islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa were reportedly sold to the Shah of Iran in 1971 by the Emirati ruler of the Ras al-Khaimah emirate.

During a speech at the 77th session of the UN General Assembly, the UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Reem al-Hashemi, renewed her country’s call for Iran to give up its claim to the three Persian Gulf islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa.

“We renew our demand [for an end to] Iran’s occupation of the three Emirati islands: The Greater Tunb, the Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, over which history and international law prove the sovereignty of my country,” al-Hashemi said in New York on 24 September.

The UAE “will never stop claiming [its] legitimate right to these islands, either through direct negotiation or the International Court of Justice,” she went on to say, adding that despite “the UAE’s sincere calls to peacefully resolve this conflict over the past five decades, we stress here that Iran has not responded.”

The islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa, all located in the Persian Gulf, have been the center of a longstanding dispute between Iran and the UAE.

The Deputy Foreign Minister of the UAE, Khalifa Shaheen al-Marar, and other Emirati officials, have continuously referred to Iran’s presence on the islands as an “occupation.”

At last year’s UN General Assembly session, Iran’s mission described the UAE claims as “baseless,” adding that the three strategic islands are “inseparable parts” of Iranian territory.

According to a news article by Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam, issued in 1970, the islands were sold to the Shah of Iran by Sheikh Saqr Bin Sultan al-Qasimi, ruler of the UAE’s northernmost emirate, Ras al-Khaimah. At the time, Ras al-Khaimah was one of the Trucial Sheikhdoms. A year later, Iran seized the islands following the withdrawal of British forces.

In February of this year, Iran opened a new runway on the Imam Ali Airport in Greater Tunb, which was initially launched in 2010 by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

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