x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Iran condemned for plan to tour three occupied UAE islands

The Federal National Council has said the 'provocative' visit by the Iranian Shura Council to Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs violates UAE sovereignty.

Abu Musa island was part of the dominions of the Al Qasimi family, rulers of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, for more than 250 years.Courtesy of Al Ittihad
Abu Musa island was part of the dominions of the Al Qasimi family, rulers of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, for more than 250 years.Courtesy of Al Ittihad

ABU DHABI // Iran faced a chorus of condemnation yesterday over controversial plans for members of its Shura Council to visit three Emirati islands in the Arabian Gulf.

Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs have been occupied by Iran since they were invaded on the eve of the UAE’s foundation in 1971.

The Federal National Council described the proposed Iranian inspection tour as provocative and dangerous, the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union condemned the plan and it was denounced by the foreign ministry of Bahrain.

The visit violated UAE sovereignty over the islands and contradicted all efforts to find a peaceful solution, the FNC said.

Ali Jassim, a member from Umm Al Quwain, said Iran’s actions undermined its claims of being interested in such a solution.

“If they care about stability of the Gulf, there has to be action to support it,” he said. “They cannot say they are Muslim and at the same time occupy others lands and waters.”

The FNC said Iran’s escalation of tension over the islands would not change the historical and legal facts of the UAE’s ownership.

“This visit means nothing with regard to the situation of the islands. Even if the biggest to the smallest official visits them, it does not mean they belong to anyone except the UAE,” said Mr Jassim.

Musabah Al Kitbi, and FNC member for Sharjah, said: “The visit to the islands does not change anything. They are Emirati.

The FNC vowed to spare no efforts to support the UAE and aid efforts to end the occupation.

“The Iranian actions also contravene an understanding reached by the two countries to avoid escalation so as to clear the air for a solution that enhances security and stability in the region and promotes relations of good neighbourliness between countries,” it said.

“The council calls on Iran and the Iranian Shura Council to stop taking such provocative actions, which it has no excuse for.”

The executive committee of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union said it was worried about continued Iranian interference in GCC internal affairs, and restated its support for the UAE’s sovereignty over the islands.

“We call on Iran to solve this problem peacefully by referring it to the International Court of Justice,” it said.

The committee asked Iran to cease such provocative steps, and asked for a “calming of the air” to reach a solution that ensured stability and security for the region.

The proposed tour by Iran’s Shura Council follows a visit to Abu Musa in April last year by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president.

Mr Ahmadinejad inflamed tensions with a speech in which he insisted the Arabian Gulf should be called the Persian Gulf, and that the islands were rightfully Iranian.

After that visit, the UAE recalled its ambassador to Tehran and summoned the Iranian ambassador to the UAE to give him a letter of protest to pass to his government.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, said the consequences of the April visit could be “dangerous”.

osalem@thenational.ae