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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

Boundary news

Boundary news Headlines

UAE and Iran reported to have reached deal on disputed islands

(17 January 2014)

Media reports assert that the United Arab Emirates and Iran have negotiated a deal over the disputed Hormuz Islands. The islands of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs are situated in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway and one of the world’s busiest oil shipping channels. The three islands dominate the approach to the Strait of Hormuz, through which one fifth of the global oil supply circulates, guarding the world’s most important oil chokepoint.

According to reports, sovereignty over the Greater and Lesser Tunbs will be handed to the UAE, whilst Iran will retain seabed rights around the islands. Negotiations are still proceeding with regard to Abu Musa. Reports claim that Oman would grant Iran a strategic location on its Musandam Peninsula in exchange for oil and gas from Iran once a pipeline has been established within two years. 

If confirmed, the island negotiations would have a significant impact on political relations in the Gulf region following years during which the disputed archipelago was a source of tension between the UAE and Iran. The dispute reaches back to 1971 when the UAE was established, when control of Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs was held by Tehran, after the UAE and Iran failed to agree on their sovereignty.