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Abu Musa Islands

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Abu Musa Islands



Abu Musa (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran) has a population of around 600 people, and is situated at the mouth of the narrows of the Strait of Hormuz.

Abu Musa is notable for its golden, sandy beaches and for its authentic natural beauty. In the west and south-west is Abu Musa town, the capital of the island and its most important harbour. Fishing is the major industry on this island.

The island Abu Musa covers an area of 12 sq kms., with a diameter of 5 kms. It is roughly circular in shape. The highest elevation is about 110 meters, obtains toward the northern part of the Island at Halva peak (Jebel Halwa).

The mountains end as rocky cliffs or steep promontories at the north, while at the mouths of the valleys are sandy beaches at the south. Like the other islands in the Persian Gulf enjoys warm and humid climate. The annual precipitation is over 100 mm≤.

There are few significant resources on the islands apart from red oxide (coloring pigment) and oil, and only Abu Musa can accommodate large ships. 

Abu Musa: Claims three islands in the Persian Gulf occupied by Iran

The largest of these islands, Abu Musa, was claimed by Sharjah. The two others, Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb, were claimed by Ras Al-Khaimah. Both Sharjah and Ras Al-Khaimah, now part of the United Arab Emirates, were ruled by members of the Qawasim tribe.

The UAE has garnered significant diplomatic support in the region in protesting these three islands occupied by Iran. It counters that Arabs from the eastern Gulf littoral have always controlled the islands, and that Iran has no claim to either Abu Musa or the Tunbs.

In 1980, the UAE submitted its claim on the island to the United Nations and joined with five other nations Gulf states to form the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Throughout the rest of the 1980s, the dispute over the island was overshadowed by the Iran-Iraq war, until March 1992, when Iran expelled the foreigners from Abu Musa.

After the UAE brought the issue to the GCC in September of 1992, Iran declared full sovereignty over the three islands. Neither the UAE or the GCC has contemplated an attack on Abu Musa because Iranian fortification would make it too difficult to invade or to hold the island.

Not only would an invasion fail, but Iran could respond by closing the Strait of Hormuz to all commerce, including the oil trade. The islands dispute has also caused serious friction within the UAE.

Abu Dhabi has been careful to maintain some contact with Iran because of the large number of Iranian expatriates in the UAE and because of Iran's proximity.

The History of Islands - Abu Musa Islands

In the late 18th century, with entrance of British naval force and her political citizens to the Persian Gulf in the pretext of expelling pirates, preventing slavery and safeguarding the sea routes to India, British Naval Force stopped Iranian military operations in Abu Musa.

In January 1968, Britain announced that it would withdraw all of its forces from east of Suez by the end of 1971. At that time the sheikhdom of Sharjah, now part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) controlled Abu Musa.

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