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Source: RFE/RL

Dec 22, 2023

Tehran Appears To Criticize Moscow's Stance On Persian Gulf Islands

Ali Akbar Velayati, the senior adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has apparently criticized Russia's position on the long-standing dispute over Iran’s sovereignty of three strategic islands in the Persian Gulf.

Velayati, a former foreign minister of Iran and now a key international affairs adviser, expressed regret over the Russian Foreign Ministry's stance, suggesting it undermines Moscow's credibility with Tehran.

Speaking on December 21, Velayati warned countries embroiled in political and military disputes to approach their relations with the Islamic republic with greater caution, in apparent reference to Russia and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has had a decades-long territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) over the Persian Gulf islands of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb, and Abu Musa.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in a meeting with Arab counterparts earlier this week, said the dispute over the islands should be mediated by international organizations and urged Iran to enter negotiations over the islands, apparently signaling that Russia was supporting the U.A.E.'s claims.

The dispute over the islands dates back to 1971, when Iran's Imperial Navy reclaimed control of the islands days before the U.A.E.'s formation and just as the British Navy was withdrawing from the Persian Gulf.

Since then, the U.A.E. has continually contested Iran's sovereignty over these islands, although it has refrained from military action.

The U.A.E.'s claims are based on past administrative control over the islands by the Sharjah emirate -- one of the emirates that make up the U.A.E. -- while Iran cites agreements linked to the British withdrawal from the Gulf.

The islands have high strategic value, being situated near vital shipping lanes and potential oil reserves.

Iran has provided Russia with weapons for Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, mainly the Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 drones that have been used regularly to attack civilian and infrastructure targets in Ukraine.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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