At a meeting in commemoration of National Persian Gulf Day, at the Institute for Political and International Studies of the Foreign Ministry
Iran must first resolve its issues with the superpowers
In this meeting that took place on Sunday morning, while pointing out the importance of the Persian Gulf throughout history, he said, "At this juncture, it is crucial more than ever to talk about the principles and the origin of our governance over Iranian islands, especially the Persian Gulf islands that are located in a body of water of which more than 50 miles are considered as a region economically exclusive to Iran and the Iranian continental shelf. There are thirty-three islands. There is no doubt that one of Iran's concerns has always been to have a sort of regional cooperation between coastal countries of the Persian Gulf. For this reason, before the Islamic Revolution, the 1971 agreement was drafted between Iran and the UAE so that Iran could convince the UAE of regional cooperation, i.e., removing the concerns of the Sheikhs due to Britain's withdrawal from the east of Suez, including the Persian Gulf, and gaining their consent for regional cooperation regarding the security of the region. Even in the last article of Resolution 598, the point of regional cooperation was only included after the suggestion of Iran's representative in the Security Council. Common sense dictates that countries that are geographically neighbors should make efforts towards cooperation and friendship.
But this is not the true story today. The survival and existence of the Persian Gulf Sheikhs, who today have gathered under the flag of the United Arab Emirates, are dependent on the support of Britain. Britain, based on its colonial interests, decided to gather the sheikhs of Sharjah under one flag, and after the discovery of oil in the Persian Gulf in 1908, the importance of this region for Britain increased. Nonetheless, if there was no support from Britain, these islands would have been placed within the political and security sphere of Iran or the Ottomans. Therefore, these sheikhs owe their survival to Britain. When Britain, in 1868, announced that due to financial problems, it intends to withdraw from the east of Suez, all the sheikhs stated that they are ready to pay any cost to have a continued British presence, and that Britain not leave their region. They had found their survival to be connected with the presence of a power from outside the region, and they therefore took steps accordingly. Even now that Britain is still present in the region but in another form, they welcome the issue of an American presence.
An important point that I feel is necessary to mention is that the international system stands on two foundations. The first is the legal foundation, in which the principle of equality of governance for nations is mentioned and based on which each country has a right to vote in international assemblies. The second is the geopolitical foundation and the hierarchy of power. Therefore, global order is greatly decided and structured based on the interests of superpowers. As a result, in interactions within the international system, countries try to choose policies that are compatible with the superpowers’ in the region.
The three islands of the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa are part of Iran's territorial integrity. I feel I should now mention the opinion of British lawyer, Sir Eric Beckett, in rejection of UAE claims. He mentions two points; the first is that if their claim is true, Sheikhi Qasimi must be present in all commitments the South has with respect to Britain, but this is not the case. The second point is that the governor changed twice, and if the claim was valid, the management of these islands should have returned to the Sheikh after the change in governors, while this did not happen either. Therefore, the three islands are Iranian. The 1971 agreement between Iran and the sheikh of Sharjah was like the model of the neutral zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. According to this agreement, the security of the island is totally under the control of Iran and is considered part of its territorial integrity. Iran also gives some privileges to the Arabs and respects them fully. Iran has always announced its readiness to have dialogue and negotiate on the issue of the Three Islands in order to solve any existing problems.
Concerning the issue that has recently come up, it must be said that whenever there is the possibility of dialogue and cooperation between Iran and related powers in the region, Arab countries strongly look to become closer to Iran, and whenever the crisis intensifies and the Arabs feel that Iran might be in a tight position, they increase their pressure as well. Therefore, it seems that Iran must first resolve its issues with the superpowers, but regarding the Three Islands, Iran must move forward based on national interests, not ideological interests, and it must create some sort of balance between its national and ideological interests. Iran must try to solve the problems and dead-ends it faces with good will and determination and with a wise perspective, while considering today's realities.