State of Denial: Occupation is Fact Not 'Misunderstanding'

  • 29 May 2008

An objective observer will not find any justification or rational ground behind the extremist and emotional tone that sometimes besets Iranian political statements on developments related to its occupation of three of the UAE's islands,  as was witnessed recently. Tehran not only officially rebuts any Arab or international move toward supporting the UAE's right to peacefully and amicably reclaim its “three occupied islands," its official statements audaciously term the issue as a “misunderstanding” and rules out the amicable settlement of the issue both through direct talks or through international arbitration. Moreover, it assumes for itself the position of an Islamic “teacher,” keen on educating Arab countries on their priorities. Thus, the observer is left with no alternative but to raise questions over Iran's twisted rationale. 

An analysis of the Iranian position reveals a striking political dichotomy that calls for strengthening cooperation between Iran and the Gulf on the one hand and persists with its denial of ending the occupation of UAE's territories, which is not only a Muslim state and a neighboring Arab country but has strong links with Iran and its interests, including strong commercial and trade ties.                      

In this context, one can understand the rejection of the UAE to characterize the occupation of Iran of the “three UAE islands” (the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa) as a “misunderstanding” in response to confirmation by Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Mohamed Ali Husseini on his country's refusal for a Russian mediation on settling the "islands" issue. Undoubtedly, Iranian reaction reflects its unjustified obduracy in carry on its occupation of the “three UAE islands,” and its refusal to respond favorably for settling this vital issue. The UAE naturally would not give up part of its territories under occupation, just like any other country around the world would not, and has always worked toward reclaiming the “islands” through peaceful and diplomatic means.

The UAE's foreign policy has always pursued a peaceful and prudent approach on the issue of the “three occupied islands.” The issue has not affected economic relations with Iran, as the UAE has sought to settle the matter in way that strengthens the opportunities for regional stability. The UAE's relationship with Iran remain cordial as the spokesman of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs himself stated. However, this does not mean that the issue of occupied islands is suffering neglect.        

The UAE 's claim is indisputable, historical, and legally correct. The country has the right to make all efforts to reclaim the islands—a stance supported by the Arab world and Gulf states that call for peaceful means for the reclaiming of UAE's “three islands”.  

The time has come for Iran to respond to the persistent calls of the UAE to settle the problem of the occupied islands through direct negotiations or international arbitration in order to settle the issue amicably. It is also time for Iran to be mindful of the legal and historical rights of countries over their territories against illegal practices.