Iranian Positions Shocking

  • 27 January 2009

It is difficult to forsake the interests of peoples of two countries whose relations at the state level are tumultuous and devoid of any clear strategic vision. The problem becomes more complex if such relations pertain to neighboring countries that share common interests at many levels. Therefore, the UAE has always sought to maintain good relations with its Iranian neighbor with wise and mature diplomacy based on cooperation and common interests, without relinquishing its permanent stand on the issue of its three islands occupied by Iran, and to pursue its policy of resolving the problem through dialogue, as it is the best mechanism for strengthening international relations to settle conflicts and to end age-old differences.

However, the response from the other side has sometimes been baffling. Recent statements issued across the Gulf did not just deny the historical right of the UAE to its three islands, but exceeded by even encroaching upon the sovereignty of the state, and the issuance of abusive remarks against another GCC member country. The remarks also included issuing a veiled threat of war in case the UAE were to stick to its position and persist with demanding its rightful claim to the occupied islands.

These are strange Iranian position that is inconsistent with its stated policies. On the one hand, Tehran has launched a relentless war of words in condemnation of Israeli occupation of Arab lands in Palestine, the Golan Heights and the Shabaa farms. On the other hand, however, some of its people are calling on the UAE to be silent or stop demanding the return of the three islands that their country has occupied. What is this double standard that differentiates one occupation from the other? What kind of good neighborliness is this that resorts to threatening a neighbor with destruction and war, just because the latter is upholding its righteous stance? What kind of regional security and stability Iran aspires for in the wake of such remarks emanating from within it? What hidden intentions does Tehran harbor against its Arab and Gulf neighbors in light of the arrogant tone emanating from some of the political elements in Iran?

On observing the Iranian political rhetoric on matters of regional security one cannot but feel baffled and skeptical, as Iran relentlessly calls for an entity for maintaining regional security, while it continues to intimidate its neighbors. Iran always talks about building good neighborly relations, but does not miss the opportunity of undermining the UAE's serious steps towards resolving the matter of the three occupied islands through a peaceful settlement, either through direct talks or through legal international arbitration.

All indicators validate that the UAE has been acting on the issue of the three occupied islands in a moral, legal and diplomatic manner, and has refused to mix this vital issue in its dispute with Tehran with the issue of its nuclear program with the international community, and that it has not allowed the issue of the occupied islands to become a source of regional tensions. The UAE has dealt  with the matter with great diplomatic maturity that has also been praised in various international and regional political circles. The UAE has also not used this issue as an obstacle to positive cooperation with its Iranian neighbor in the interest of both countries.

The matter of the three occupied islands shows a contradiction in Iranian foreign policy towards the Arab world, as Tehran denies the UAE its right to act diplomatically for restoring its right and sovereignty over the islands. It would have been worthwhile if Tehran manifested its good intentions, and stopped allowing the voices from within its polity that seek to harm relations and interests between the two countries. More important, it should work on remedying the causes of tension, and to show a serious will to settling the matter of the three occupied UAE islands either through direct talks or through legal international arbitration.