Iran is key to ending empire
The three disputed islands in the Gulf are the least of the Middle East's worries, says Mojtaba Mousavi
The recent visit of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, to the island of Abu Moussa which was part of his tour to the provinces of Iran has raised objections by the United Arab Emirates to Ahmadinejads stance on these three islands: Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa islands.
Based on historical facts, these islands have always been part of Iranian territory until the point where Britain seized and occupied the Persian Gulf. The justification for their occupation of these islands included punishment of pirates, preventing slavery, and the security and safeguarding of shipping in the Straits of Hormuz. The islands were then handed over to the Sharjah and Raas-ol-khaimah Sheikhdoms (United Arab Emirates had not been founded as an independent country at that time). Finally, after 50 years of constant objections and demands from Iran, on 29 November 1971, as a result of an agreement which was clinched between the Iranian government and the Sheikh of Sharjah through British mediation, Irans rule over Abu Moussa Island was formally recognised. Following that on 30 November, one day prior to the departure of British forces from the region and two days before the official establishment of the UAE, Irans military forces were deployed in the three islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Moussa.
According to Article 2 of the 1971 Memorandum of Understanding between Iran and Sharjah, Iran has full jurisdiction over the northern part of Abu Moussa island and Iranian flags will be raised at the Iranian military bases in the island, while Sharjah will have full jurisdiction over the southern part of the island and the Sharjah flag will continue to fly over the Sharjah police post on the island.
The issue of these three islands is in no manner a complex issue, as there are many historical testimonies regarding the ownership of these islands. In the official map of Persia projected in six pieces by the Surveying Section of Indian Topographical Research Department of the British Foreign Ministry of India in 1897, the two Tunbs and Abu Moussa islands had been demonstrated as the same color as Iran territory.
In the map distributed by the United Nations Security Council in 1971 Abu Moussa Island had been referred as "Bamusa, Iran".
In the Persian Gulf map published by the French Foreign Ministry (as Earte du Golphe Persique) in 1764, the two Tunbs and Abu Moussa were marked in the same color as Iranian land.
In the map of the Persian Empire of 1813 in black and white (by John McDonald, the political advisor of Sir John Malcolm, in his mission to Iran) and the colored map, re-drawn by J Arosmith in 1832, the two Tunbs and Abu Moussa were marked as the same color as Iran territory.
In the central Asia map comprising Kabul, Persia, the Indus river and countries eastward of it drafted on the basis of authentic maps by Alexander Bornes and in the colored version by Arosmith, these islands were marked in the same color as Iranian territory.
In the Persian Gulf map published by the British War Ministry in six pieces in 1886, the Tunbs and Abu Moussa islands were marked as part of Iranian territory.
This article is not to prove Irans ownership of Abu Moussa island nor is it a judgement to the UAE's claims on it. Rather, with respect to the 1971 memorandum no one has an argument about Irans jurisdiction over the northern part of Abu Moussa island. In that pretext, President Ahmadinejad visited the island in a legal and regular manner.
However the most important point of this article is something else. Certain misunderstandings and differences between Iran and some Arab countries in the region have arisen, yet the only parties who benefit from these differences are Western countries especially US, Britain and Israel. Nearly all differences related to boundaries in the Middle East have their root cause related to Britain and its period of colonisation in the region. Even the state of Israel was formed with the direct intervention of Britain.
The security, stability and peace of the Middle East are to the benefit of all the countries in the region. The Muslim countries of the region historically have a joint enemy called Israel and by that have always sought to support the people of Palestine. The religion of Islam is also another common factor between Iran and the Arab countries in the region.
Muslims are considered brothers and sisters, though with the rise of imperialism many non- Muslim foreigners have come to dominate the economies of the Muslim world.
Western countries are major supporters of Israel, and all Arab dictatorships which were toppled in the past two years had extensive relations with US, Europe and Israel.
The friendship and cooperation of countries in the region comes as a concern to the West. They are in fear of Muslim unity. Conflicts between Iran, as a powerful and influential country in the region, and other Arab countries is one of the long practiced strategies of the West for the destabilisation of the region and the engagement of countries in these issues are a diversion from the Palestinian issue and a way for the West not to pay for its abuses in the region.
Would America have invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan if the Middle East was united?
The Middle East controls about 65 per cent of the worlds oil reserves and about 35 per cent of the worlds natural gas reserves. This is the strongest weapon and means of power for the residents of the region. Wouldn't the Muslim countries of the region be able to get the West to stop supporting Israel by threatening to cut oil exports to Western countries?
Shouldn't the Arab countries of the region object to American sanctions on Iran and show unity and brotherhood among Muslims which will prove to be a barrier to the greed of Western strangers to the resources and interests of the Middle East?
Will we see the day where the West would become unable to create further differences and exploitation in the region? Will the developments in the region prove that the policy of "divide and rule" does not work against "united Muslims"?