Former Kuwaiti Information Minister Saad bin Tafla criticized the visit made by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa, one of three disputed islands in the Gulf.
Both Iran and the UAE claim territorial sovereignty over Abu Musa and two other islands in the southern Gulf.
Iran, then under the rule of the Western-backed shah, gained control in 1971 of the islands of Abu Musa, Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb, as Britain granted independence to its Gulf protectorates and withdrew its forces.
Abu Musa, the only inhabited island of the three, was placed under joint administration in a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.
Bin Tafla attributed Ahmadinejad’s visit to the Islamic republic’s keenness to divert attention from the Syrian crisis.
“The possible fall of the Syrian regime is a grave threat to Iran and that is why it supports the Syrian regime,” he told Al Arabiya.
Bin Tafla added that Iran is behind all the decisions made in Damascus against the rebels.
“Visiting the island is one of Iran’s tactics to divert the international community’s attention from what is happening inside Syria.”
The visit, Bin Tafla pointed out, was also meant to cover up for internal problems the Iranian regime is facing.
“The Iranian government is suffering because of its nuclear program and which is causing great tension with the international community.”
Bin Tafla lamented the Islamic republic for what he said was its insistence on creating cause for tension with its neighbors instead attempting to forge strong ties despite the fact that Gulf nations have always been benevolent towards Iran.
“Despite its occupation of the UAE islands for 40 years, Gulf nations have always helped Iran on several fronts. The problem is with the Iranian regime and not the Iranian people.”
Bin Tafla, however, noted that the problem with Iran did not start with the Islamic government that came to power in 1979.
“The problem has its roots in the time of the Shah and continued with the post-revolution government even though it calls itself Islamic.”
Gulf nations, he added, will ensure the standoff over the tiny islands is resolved peacefully.
“This can be done through bilateral talks between the UAE and Iran, negotiations between Iran and the GCC, the International Court of Justice, or the Organization of the Islamic Conference.”
The problem, bin Tafla explained, is that Iran keeps thwarting any such peaceful initiatives and blaming other parties for their failure.
“This attitude was clear in the negotiations of the 5+1 group in the Turkish capital Ankara and which ended in failure. At that time, Iran blamed Turkey and relations between them started souring. Now, Iran wants to hold the next round of talks about its nuclear program in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)