Another island sovereignty dispute has flared up, this time in the Persian Gulf as both Iran and the United Arab Emirates reignite the dispute surrounding the Hormuz Islands
Reports emerging from Teheran suggest that the Iranian Government has vehemently rejected the Gulf Cooperation Council’s recent decision to support the United Arab Emirates’ fight for territorial sovereignty over the disputed Hormuz Islands, going as far as to describe the Emirati claim as “baseless” in an interview with an Iranian daily newspaper.
Situated in the Persian Gulf, some 5 miles from the Iranian coast, the three islands – Abu Musa, the Greater Tunbs and the Lesser Tunbs – have been a matter of contention since the end of the British control in the region during the mid-seventies, with Iran most recently exercising control over the island group.
In spite of their small stature, the islands – and, perhaps more importantly, their territorial waters – play a significant role in the oil-rich region, thanks to their strategic location within the Strait of Hormuz: the world’s “most important oil chokepoint.” According to reports published by the US Energy Administration, 35% of the world’s seaborne oil shipments pass through here, equating to 17 million barrels of crude oil per day.
Despite reaching an agreement about the sovereignty of the island group earlier this year, tensions have been rising for some time now, coming to a head at the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Doha (Qatar) early last week, where support was reiterated for the United Arab Emirates claims over the “sovereignty of the islands, their regional waters, airspace, continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.”
The statement was rejected by a Teheran spokesman, who described the UAE’s claims as “baseless” and not rooted in “historical fact”. Going on to reiterate the Islamic Republic’s ownership of the three islands, the spokesperson concluded by dismissing the Gulf Cooperation Council’s suggestion that the islands are integral parts of the UAE, stating that the wild claims of the Emirati will never be able to mar the historical reality.
While national borders and boundaries are usually well-established, small, remote islands can fall through the cracks. Desired for fishing and oil drilling rights, military access, or simply national pride, a number of these disputed isles are causing territorial clashes around the world. The very public battles over islands like Taiwan and the Falklands are familiar to many, but smaller conflicts – such as that of the disputed Strait of Hormuz Islands may be surprising.
To help you find out more about ongoing international island disputes, Private Island News has produced this convenient guide: Disputed Islands around the World. Be sure to check it out, and don’t forget to head back to www.privateislandnews.com or our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus) to keep abreast of all the latest developments rocking the island community.