Zarif marks Persian Gulf National Day, urges co-op between littoral states

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Publish Date : 05/01/2017 14:24
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Marking the Persian Gulf National Day on Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called on the sea’s littoral states to cooperate with each other to address regional challenges.

April 30 has been designated in the Persian calendar as the Persian Gulf National Day to mark the anniversary of Abbas I of Persia's successful military campaign when the Portuguese navy was forced out of the Strait of Hormuz in the Capture of Ormuz (1622).

The Strait of Hormuz, connects the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Oman.

“Regional countries are able to meet their interests and shield themselves against threats through cooperation,” Zarif said in an article on the occasion.

In what follows, excerpts have been given:

The Persian Gulf National Day is an occasion to celebrate the exit of colonial and foreign forces from the region. However, this vital waterway continues to suffer from major powers’ interventions as well as their destructive role in waging wars and crises.

As its strategic policy, the Islamic Republic of Iran highlights the importance of the regional countries’ competence to run their affairs.

The Persian Gulf littoral countries have the right to decide independently short of foreign meddling.

Joint cooperation is required in the Persian Gulf region to create mechanisms in order to use opportunities, counter threats and challenges, prevent foreign intervention, preserve regional security, guarantee free shipping and bridge differences on the basis of honoring national sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations.

The Government of Prudence and Hope (the Rouhani administration) seeks dialogue and cooperation on the basis of its strategic policy to prioritize relations with neighbors and a reliance on its national power.

It is essential to stop unilateral approaches in favor of regional stability and balanced development. The Persian Gulf region must not turn into conflict hotbed.

Despite difference, the Persian Gulf can turn into a sea of friendship.

Iran, the Persian Gulf and Arab claims

The Persian Gulf littoral states are Iran (Persia), Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

It has an area of 240,000 km and a maximum depth of 90 meters, while the average depth is 50 meters, according to the Center for Persian Gulf Studies.

In Western countries it is normally referred to as the Persian Gulf.

The sea’s length is 1,000 km and its maximum width is 370 km. To the south, the coast line is low, while the coast on the Iranian side is mountainous.

Its temperature is high, and the salt level is as high as 40%, which is the result of excessive evaporation.

The main fresh water source is Shatt El Arab, the confluence of the rivers Euphrates, Tigris and Karun.

Through the Strait of Hormuz, the Persian Gulf is connected to the Gulf of Oman. There have been serious incidents that have left negative environmental damage on the Persian Gulf in recent years.

The Persian Gulf is a 600-mile-long arm of the Indian Ocean, which separates the Arabian peninsula from Iran (Persia).

Since the 1960s, some Arab states have referred to the sea as the Arabian Gulf.

The Persian Gulf is bounded by the Shatt al-Arab waterway in the north, which forms the frontier between Iran and Iraq, and the Strait of Hormuz in the south, which connects the sea to the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean.

The waterway, which is 34 miles wide at its narrowest point, is the choke point of the Persian Gulf.

Six of the eight littoral states were formed in the 20th century, and only Iran (Persia) and Oman have long histories as separate entities. The Persian Gulf littoral states today contain some 118 million people, representing many ethnic, religious, linguistic and political communities.

The Persian Gulf, while important as an international trade route connecting the Middle East to Africa, India and China, has its own distinct cultural identity. It has historically been an integrated region characterized by constant interchange of people, commerce and religious movements.

Before the modern era, peoples of the region shared a maritime culture based on pearling, fishing and long-distance trade, and many tribes moved freely back and forth.

The Persian Gulf's orientation was outward, and its seamen maintained close ties with the Indian subcontinent and East Africa. As in many parts of the Middle East, society in the Arabian peninsula was tribally organized and tribes were key to forming modern states. Until the 20th century, tribes also played an important political role in Persia and Ottoman Iraq.

The modern strategic importance of the Persian Gulf dates from the mid-19th century, when three great empires confronted each other there: British India, Tsarist Russia and Ottoman Turkey. The British established political control over much of the Persian Gulf in the early 1800s and kept it for 150 years, establishing a tradition of outside involvement that persists today. Britain did not establish formal protectorates (as in the case, for example, of Egypt), but did enter into treaties with local sheikhs offering them protection in return for control over their foreign policy. In 1899, Kuwait, then considered a dependency of the Ottomans, was brought into this system.
After World War I, the political map of much of the Middle East was redrawn as the Ottoman Empire was replaced by modern states, including Turkey, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The small Arab sheikhdoms on the western shore of the Persian Gulf were under British protection until 1971 (in the case of Kuwait, 1961). Iran (Persia) was never a colony, and for much of the 19th and 20th century Britain competed with Russia for influence there.

The present importance of the Persian Gulf stems from its massive energy deposits. Sixty-five percent of the world's known oil reserves are located in the Persian Gulf countries, which produce over a third of the world's daily output. (By comparison, North America holds 8.5 percent of the world's reserves.) Saudi Arabia ranks first in reserves, with 261 billion barrels, followed by Iraq (100 billion), the UAE (98 billion), Kuwait (96.5 billion), and Iran (89 billion). The Persian Gulf is also rich in natural gas, with Iran and Qatar holding the world's second and third-largest reserves, respectively.

Over the past century, the traditional way of life in the Arab states has been irrevocably changed, due in large measure to the British intervention and the rise of the oil industry.

The common bonds of the Persian Gulf peoples have been overshadowed by political differences between the new states. The modernization process, which lasted for centuries in the West, has been compressed into decades, putting great stress on traditional societies.

Because of the way in which the modern states were formed and boundaries arbitrarily delimited, in many cases tribal and family loyalties, and religious, linguistic and ethnic identities are more important than state citizenship. These factors, along with economic disparities, the rise and fall of oil prices, political Islam and the influence of revolutionary Iran (Persia), as well as the disruptive policies of Iraq, have contributed to the present-day tensions in the region.

 

 

By: Negar Asadi

http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/413044/Zarif-marks-Persian-Gulf-National-Day-urges-co-op-between-littoral

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“ Zarif marks Persian Gulf National Day, urges co-op between littoral states ”