TEHRAN, Iran (AA): While rapprochement between Iran and its Middle Eastern neighbours gathers momentum, the territorial dispute between Tehran and Abu Dhabi over three Persian Gulf islands continues.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani in a strongly-worded statement just a day after the Arab League summit decried the joint communique issued at the summit, referring to “accusations and false claims” in it.
While “welcoming the constructive approach of some countries,” Kanaani hit out at the 22-member pan-Arab organization for making “repetitive claims,” asserting that Iran’s actions “are in line with the exercise of sovereignty over its territory, and any claim in this regard is rejected.”
Although he stopped short of mentioning the three strategic islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa located in the Strait of Hormuz, the hint was clear enough.
The three islands have been administered by Iran since 1971, eight years before the Iranian Revolution, but are claimed by the United Arab Emirates as part of its territory.
The territorial dispute has been a key sticking point in Iran-UAE relations over the years, with the two neighbors on numerous occasions engaging in verbal duels at international forums.
Yaseen Taqizadeh, a Persian Gulf affairs analyst, said the dispute dates back more than five decades and the recent upgradation of ties between Tehran and Abu Dhabi is unlikely to resolve the issue.
“The dispute over the sovereignty of three islands is rooted in history, with both sides making competing claims,” he said. “It will continue to be a bone of contention between them regardless of recent developments unless they agree to engage in meaningful dialogue.”