GCC lobbies Iran in islands row

Leaders of the Gulf Co-operation Council, GCC, will urge Iran to negotiate an agreement with the UAE over their longstanding territorial conflict about three islands in the Gulf, or refer the case to the International Court of Justice, ICJ.

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    Iran seized the islands after Britain withdrawal in 1971

    Abd al-Rahman bin Hamad al-Attiya, the GCC secretary-general, has told reporters that the Gulf leaders will renew their call on Iran to refrain from ignoring previous summit recommendations for a peaceful settlement of the issue.

    The GCC leaders will conclude their 26th annual summit in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the Emirates, on Monday.

    The GCC bloc comprises Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait the United Arab Emirates.

    Located strategically at the entrance of the Gulf, Abu Musa and the two other tiny islands were seized by Iran in 1971 after Britain withdrew from the region.

    Iran has a military base on Abu Musa.

    Al-Attiya has recently expressed regret for the absence of any positive outcome to date on the contacts made with the Islamic Republic of Iran on the issue of the islands in an effort to find a lasting solution to the dispute in order to boost peace and security in the region.

    The GCC reiterates its commitment to pursuing all peaceful means to return to the UAE its rights on the three islands, he said.

    The dispute

    Al-Attiya says  leaders will urge 
    a peaceful solution to the row

    The UAE has repeatedly called upon the international community to urge Iran to end its occupation of the Islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa through peaceful dialogue or by referring the issue to the ICJ.

    Abu Dhabi also blames Iran for working on changing the islands' demographic and historical features, saying such actions are flagrant violations of the UAE territorial integrity and UN conventions and international law.

    In return, Iran reiterates its claim of ownership of the three islands and rejects any international arbitration in the dispute.

    It says that the islands are under its sovereignty and will remain part and parcel of the Islamic republic forever.

    It also rejects as "redundant and with no legal value" the GCC call on Tehran to join in efforts by the UAE and the international community to resolve the dispute through direct negotiations, or recourse to the International Court of Justice.

    Legal basis

    The GCC summit will conclude in
    Abu Dhabi on Monday

    Tehran says that Abu Dhabi lacks any legal basis, rejects referring to its ownership of the islands as "occupation" and stresses that only constructive negotiations with the UAE in an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill can remove what it calls the minor misunderstandings between the two countries over the dispute.

    The UAE says if the Iranian officials have some historical or geographical documents that indicate that the islands were once part of the Iranian territories, then why is it avoiding presenting the issue in front of the ICJ?

    The UAE affirms its sovereignty over the islands, their territorial waters, coral reefs and the economic zone and has raised the issue in many GCC, Arab, Islamic and international forums and summits.

    The three islands lay roughly half-way between the Iranian port of Bandar-e Langeh and Dubai in the UAE.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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