Bvery few people could locate on the map of the Middle East the three islands of Abu Musa, the Great Tomb and the Little Tomb. They are nevertheless at the center of a diplomatic showdown between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, which have claimed sovereignty since 1971. That year, the Shah of Iran ordered his army to occupy these three islands, strategically located at the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Such a coup had taken place two days before the proclamation of the independence of the Emirates, until then under British protectorate.
Once the Shah was overthrown in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic of Iran increased its control over the three islands, fortified militarily, with the presence of the army and the Revolutionary Guards. But the United Arab Emirates have not stopped defending their rights on these three islands, recently receiving unexpected support from Russia, which is very dependent on Iranian drones in its aggression against Ukraine.
The delicate balance of the Kremlin
In July, Moscow hosted a “ strategic dialogue ” with the Gulf Cooperation Council, at the end of which Russia took over ” the initiative of the United Arab Emirates and its efforts to reach a peaceful solution » litigation on Abou Moussa, the Great and the Little Tomb. The Islamic Republic has publicly expressed its irritation at seeing Iran’s sovereignty over these three islands challenged in this way. The Russian ambassador in Tehran was summoned by Foreign Affairs who wanted to see Moscow ” correct one’s position “. The Iranian thesis of a sovereignty ” eternal on Abu Moussa, the Great and the Little Tomb indeed excludes any form of talks on this subject with the United Arab Emirates, which makes the Russian development all the more worrying for Tehran.
It may seem surprising that Vladimir Putin weakens in this way ” the covenant which, according to Volodymyr Zelensky, now unites Moscow and Tehran, Iranian drones having become, since the fall of 2022, an essential component of Russian aggression against Ukraine. While the past few weeks have seen an intensification of Russian strikes against civilian targets in Ukraine, Iranian Shahed (“martyr” in Persian) type drones, more accurate than Russian missiles, have once again sown desolation. This was particularly the case on the border with Romania, where tens of thousands of tons of grain were damaged, a very short distance from the territory of a NATO member state. In addition to the hundreds of “kamikaze” drones already delivered by Iran, the Islamic Republic plans to transfer production from Shahed to Russian territory.
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