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GCC says Iran's claims over Gulf 'aggressive'

by Staff Writers
Riyadh (AFP) May 2, 2011
The Gulf Cooperation Council chief on Monday slammed as "aggressive" a statement by a top Iranian military official who has said the "Persian Gulf" belonged to the Islamic Republic.

"The Gulf belongs to all states on its shores, and Iran has no right to claim otherwise as it owns nothing from the Gulf but its territorial waters," said GCC Secretary General Abdullatif al-Zayani in a statement.

The chief of staff of Iran's armed forces General Hassan Firouzabadi's remarks are "aggressive and reflect (Iran's) expansionist intentions, which contradict the principles of good neighbourhood," he added.

Media reports in the Islamic republic have said a top Iranian military officer on Saturday denounced what he called an "Arab dictatorial front" and claimed that the "Persian Gulf has belonged to Iran for ever."

"The Arab dictatorial regimes in the Persian Gulf are unable to contain the popular uprisings," Firouzabadi has said. "The Persian Gulf has always, is and shall always belong to Iran."

Zayani described the Iranian general's remarks as "unacceptable blatant interference in the internal affairs of GCC countries, expressing complete ignorance on the region's history, its Arab identity, and the nature of (its) political regimes."

Relations between Iran and its Gulf Arab neighbours have deteriorated sharply, with the latter accusing Tehran of seeking to destabilise Arab regimes in favour of popular unrest that has erupted in many Arab countries.

Shiite-dominant Iran strongly criticised Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Sunni-ruled Bahrain that was aimed at helping crack down on a Shiite-led uprising there.

Iran says it gives "moral support" to Bahrainis but is not involved in the protests there.

Bahrain and Kuwait have in turn expelled Iranian diplomats, accusing them of espionage.

Iran has in the past claimed Bahrain as part of its territory, and it controls three islands in the southern Gulf that are also claimed by the United Arab Emirates.

Besides Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE, the GCC also includes Oman, Qatar and oil-producing kingpin Saudi Arabia.

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