UAE's island dispute with Iran hots up

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Dubai, Aug 17 (UNI) The longstanding dispute between UAE and Iran over Abu Musa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs, is threatening to snowball into a political confrontation with Arab League slamming the Iranian decision to set up naval installations in one of the islands.

The Arab League in Cairo yesterday expressed great concern over the reported Iranian decision to set up some installations on the Abu Musa Island and said the provocation will aggravate the current tension in the region.

In a statement, the Arab League secretariat urged Iran to stop such a unilateral move and to respond positively to the sincere efforts being made to find a peaceful solution to the issues of the three UAE islands through direct negotiations or international arbitration in order to boost security and stability in the region, according to the official WAM news agency.

Quoting a marine official, the Iranian state TV said on August 11 that Iran has set up two offices on Abu Musa island, one a marine rescue center and the other a registration office for ships and sailors. It's the first time in more than a decade that Iran has reported development on the island, which has been controlled by Tehran since Britain gave it up in 1971 when UAE also became free.

Both countries lay claim to the island as it is strategically located at the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz though which some 40 per cent of world's oil transits.

The UAE's Federal National Council (FNC) immediately called on Iran to dismantle two offices built on Abu Musa calling it "illegal" and warned that they "do not help in promoting bilateral relations or in building trust between the Iran and the UAE".

The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Abdul Rahman bin Hamad Al Attiya, also criticised Iran over settling offices on Abu Mousa, stating on Friday that the move was a "striking violation and illegitimate procedure on inseparable part of sovereign state, whose regional safety and territorial unity has to be respected".

Despite the moral backing UAE has received from the GCC and the Arab League, Iran has largely ignored the UAE claim. UAE, and Dubai in particular Dubai, has considerable reexports to Iran and is also home to a strong Iranian expatriate community.

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