Three islands belong to Iran: Hassanein Heikal
On Line: 04 January 2014
In Print: Sunday 05 January 2014
TEHRAN – Prominent Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal says that the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa, the Greater Tunb, and the Lesser Tunb belong to Iran, and the United Arab Emirates’ dispute over Iran’s sovereignty over the islands is baseless and politically motivated.
“I was present at the negotiations during the time of Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and Feisal in Saudi Arabia in which the Arab states traded the three islands for Bahrain,” the Iranian daily Jomhouri-e-Eslami quoted Heikal as saying in an interview with the CBS network.
“They legitimized the rule of the Sunni minority over a big Shia majority in Bahrain to recognize it as an Arab state,” he said.
“Instead of insisting on the notion that the islands belong to the UAE, one should accept the balance of power in the region,” he added.
According to the daily, Haikal concluded his remarks on the issue by asking, “Why didn’t the Arabs dare to raise the issue of the three islands at the time of the shah, but only started to highlight the case after the revolution of 1979 and continue to sow discord.”
Iran’s sovereignty over Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs has been disputed by the UAE. The dispute between Iran and the UAE began in 1974, three years after the UAE became independent.
Iran’s historical claim to sovereignty over the islands goes back to the Parthian Empire (247 BC to 224 CE) and the Sassanid Empire (224 to 651 CE). Iran believes the islands were occupied by Britain and refers to the agreement between Iran and the Emirate of Sharjah of 1971.
The current emir of Dubai (who is also the vice president, prime minister, and defense minister of the UAE), Sheikh Muhammad, has stated publicly that “he believes the tensions over the islands have been fabricated by the United States.”