The Hurmuz Strait . Persian Gulf
To the north is Iran's Qeshm Island; to the east is the UAE
(To enlarge the map, click on it)
In the latest episode involving the three islands of Abu Moussa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the Persian Gulf, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Iraqi ambassador to Tehran to protest over Baghdad’s support for UAE’s claim over the islands [Tehran Times, 8 May]. The Iraqi move came after the Arab League Summit held on 30 March in Damascus renewed its call on Iran to end its “occupation” of the islands.
The controversy over the three islands goes back to early 1970s when the British were pulling out of the Persian Gulf. They put pressure on the shah’s government to renounce Iran’s historical claim over Bahrain in return for the three islands, which also had long been claimed by Iran. Shah agreed and Iran occupied the three islands.
Shah's renunciation of Iran’s claims over Bahrain happened when Bahrain became part of the Federation of Arab Emirates (FAE). In return, the FAE (which included today’s UAE) accepted Iran’s sovereignty over the three islands. In 1971, Bahrain reneged on its membership at FAE and the newly-formed UAE reneged on recognition of Iran’s sovereignty over the islands.
Iran has built a permanent military base in Abu Moussa, the biggest and most important of the three.
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