The main approach of the UAE in recent years in interaction with regional and extra-regional countries is to emphasize trade, development, and wealth generation to reduce dependence on oil. In this regard, the UAE has had good trade relations with Iran as one of its neighbors in recent years.
Generally, the countries that choose the economic and commercial development policy as their priority support regional stability and security, and de-tension policy is at the top of their approaches. This is while the two approaches of the UAE in economic development and creating tension with Iran in the issue of the three islands are contradictory and incompatible.
In view of the regional and international conditions, it is obvious that the UAE has, at times, applied tension-causing behavior and provocative measures against Iran's vital interests in relation to the three islands and thinks that withdrawing from them in the current situation will be interpreted as a kind of retreat. This is while historical evidence and legal reasons show that the UAE's claims are baseless. Therefore, accepting the facts in today's international system based on evidence and reason does not mean retreating from interests.
As a diplomat, I can understand that the lengthy and boring resolution of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council is drafted in a meeting, and each of the parties puts their own wishes into it. However, the UAE aims to produce literature for the future. Generally, diplomats or lawyers try to produce literature in resolutions and diplomatic documents. The purpose of this action is, on the one hand, repetition to influence the mind of the audience and refer to it when resolving disputes. On the other hand, it can be claimed that this position is not only its words, but a large group of members of the international community also have this opinion.
Its historical background should be examined first to clarify the issue of the three islands of Iran. Historical evidence shows that the issue of Abu Musa Island was settled before the independence of the Emirates. At that time, Iran's counterpart was not the UAE government but the Ruler (Sheikh) of Sharjah. For this reason, the 1971 agreement was concluded under private law with the Ruler of Sharjah. In the 1971 agreement, the Ruler of Sharjah never claimed sovereignty over Abu Musa Island or other islands. In terms of legal dignity, it has not been in a legal position to claim sovereignty. Therefore, the 1971 agreement is only about economic benefits and exploitation of oil and fishing.
Of course, the UAE's claims about the new sovereignty are illogical and unacceptable from a legal point of view. Of course, this claim is presented in the form of a deceptive appearance of international dispute resolution mechanisms. In this context, in most of the meetings of the Persian Gulf Council with other countries, the UAE recently raised a sentence entitled Dispute resolution based on rights and mechanisms or international courts concerning the three islands of Iran. This is while these meetings and what is said in them are devoid of legal grounds. Several countries cannot create an obligation for a third party who is not present at that meeting. Based on this legal logic, deciding without the presence and consent of a third party in any meeting is invalid and ineffective.
In other words, it is quite clear that the UAE's political behavior regarding the three islands of Iran is due to the lack of legal evidence. Due to the lack of legal means and reasons, the UAE is trying to keep the case of Iran's three islands open by creating new documents through the declarations of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council.
Therefore, countries must respect Iran's realities and red lines to regulate their relations with Iran because they may face unsolvable challenges in future relations with Iran. One of these red lines is the territorial integrity of Iran. This red line does not belong to a government, a group, or a generation. The territorial integrity of Iran is the red line of any government or any Iranian with any belief, religion, or place of residence inside or outside. No country can damage Iran's territorial integrity, even if it takes a thousand years. Even countries such as the European Union, Russia, China, Japan, or any country that signs the declarations of the Cooperation Council should consider that their joining these declarations is at least considered an unfriendly diplomatic act towards the nation and government of Iran.
Mohsen Baharvand, International Law Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IPIS)