The Historical and Legal Foundations of Iran’s Sovereignty over Tunb and Abu Musa Islands

Author

Abstract

Throughout history, the Islands of “Tunb” and “Abu Musa” have been parts of Iranian territory. In fact, since the beginning of history up to the 19th century, the Persian Gulf coastal areas and the islands have been under Iran’s sovereignty. During this long period of history, the Persian Gulf was one of the internal seas of Iran. Even after the 19th century when the British government dominated the Persian Gulf, the evidence held by this government substantiates that these islands belong to Iran. At the outset of 20th century, the illegal occupation of the islands by the British government did not engender sovereignty to the detriment of Iran and in favour of the United Arab Emirates because this occupation was not free of interruption, discordance or objection. Also, the British reasons for the illegal occupation of the islands were legally spurious; accordingly, the British government had no choice but to opt for the word “disputed” to legally refer to the Tunb and Abu Musa Islands. Ultimately, as the colonialism came to an end in 1971, the islands returned to their previous state, with Iranian sovereignty being exercised upon them again. The main question of the present paper is whether Iran’s rights concerning these two islands have been fully restored after the end of colonialism. The main hypothesis of the paper is that, due to the imbalance of power structure between Iran and Britain, the Iranian government has had no choice but to back off from its previous positions, ignoring the Iranian national interests. The findings of the article show that Iran had adopted conciliatory stances, that is, it had relinquished its own rights to Bahrain, and immediately recognised the UAE Federation — what Saudi Arabia did three years later after having invaded parts of the UAE. In order to maintain its own sovereignty over Abu Musa Island, the Iranian government had also conceded financial and economic privileges to Sharjah.

Keywords


Article Title [فارسی]

The Historical and Legal Foundations of Iran’s Sovereignty over Tunb and Abu Musa Islands

Abstract [فارسی]

Throughout history, the Islands of “Tunb” and “Abu Musa” have been parts of Iranian territory. In fact, since the beginning of history up to the 19th century, the Persian Gulf coastal areas and the islands have been under Iran’s sovereignty. During this long period of history, the Persian Gulf was one of the internal seas of Iran. Even after the 19th century when the British government dominated the Persian Gulf, the evidence held by this government substantiates that these islands belong to Iran. At the outset of 20th century, the illegal occupation of the islands by the British government did not engender sovereignty to the detriment of Iran and in favour of the United Arab Emirates because this occupation was not free of interruption, discordance or objection. Also, the British reasons for the illegal occupation of the islands were legally spurious; accordingly, the British government had no choice but to opt for the word “disputed” to legally refer to the Tunb and Abu Musa Islands. Ultimately, as the colonialism came to an end in 1971, the islands returned to their previous state, with Iranian sovereignty being exercised upon them again. The main question of the present paper is whether Iran’s rights concerning these two islands have been fully restored after the end of colonialism. The main hypothesis of the paper is that, due to the imbalance of power structure between Iran and Britain, the Iranian government has had no choice but to back off from its previous positions, ignoring the Iranian national interests. The findings of the article show that Iran had adopted conciliatory stances, that is, it had relinquished its own rights to Bahrain, and immediately recognised the UAE Federation — what Saudi Arabia did three years later after having invaded parts of the UAE. In order to maintain its own sovereignty over Abu Musa Island, the Iranian government had also conceded financial and economic privileges to Sharjah.

Keywords [فارسی]

  • Historical Rights
  • British documents and maps
  • Arabs’ expansionism
  • settlement of the issue of Islands