Analysis of the Claims of United Arabic Emirates on three Iranian Islands in terms of Constructivism Approach

Document Type : Original Article


1 Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

2 - Ph.D Student of of Political Science, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran

3 - M.A of Political Geography, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


United Arabic Emirates claimed the three Iranian islands (Abu Musa and Tunb Islands) in 1992. In that year, Sheikh Zayed, President of the Government of the United Arabic Emirates, announced that this dispute will be referred to the International Court of Justice. At the same time, the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council, and Egypt, and Syria confirmed the claim of UAE over the ownership of Abu Musa. UAE still continues to pursue its claims through Persian Gulf Cooperation Council or other valid or invalid referees. As this intention is a geopolitics dispute and not a politic one, so it seems necessary to investigate the goals this state by a scientific and realistic analysis
Research Methodology
The research method is descriptive–analytic, and data collection procedure is based on library findings. The research question is that “what is the main reason of UAE claims on Tunb and Abu Musa islands? The research hypothesis is that “it seems that UAE's intention is nation-building using this claim”.
Results and discussion
It is believed that "the claims on territory, sovereignty and national identity" is accorded to "cultural ideals. There are various reasons for resumption of territorial claims on the three islands. But the most important reason, especially in this period of time, is the problems face the authorities of Abu Dhabi. The country considered specific plans for resolving the challenges posed by identity and legitimacy crisis, and one of the most important plans is making national identity in order to promote nationalism for nation-building in the country. These claims can be analyzed from the constructivist view as an attempt to remake identity for nation-building in the country, and also as an attempt to be known abroad.
From a constructivist point of view, we send some conceptions or signs to other according to the understood that we have about our identity, then others interprete our signs or conceptions and sends a sign according to his/her interpretation and this is how our identity and others' iderntity as friend or foe are formed. Abu Dhabi authorities define "common destiny", "mutual understanding" and "making confidence" for themselves as important factors in forming a safe society against an "other" (Iran). In addition to following some convergence issues in the society and between UAE and other southern contries of Persian Gulf and other Arab states, they also use the fundamental problem in the formation of collective identity, i.e. the anarchy, for the extended divergence of Arabs and Iran for three islands issues. The most important consequence of constructing an anarchy culture that Vant expressed it as constructivist, is the lack  of formation of a common identity between Iranian and Arab, that a kind of other-construction causes the lack of common sense about safety between Iran and these countries- this has a very important role in the continuing divergence between Iranians and the Arabs.
To sum up, Abu Dhabi authorities claimed the ownership of these islands after their independence, while Iranians had recaptured it before their independence. These claims had been subsided in 1992, but they were resumed due to some of geo-cultural challenges of UAE. The political system of UAE was led to a kind of identity constructivism by some challenges as: non-coherent political system and internal dispute; lack of cultural continuity and ethnic and religious heterogeneity, the lack of common historical context and the need to identify common political identity in the domestic and international arenas; to achieve the reasons of development and increase in nationalism and nation-building in the UAE and identifying political identity in foreign relations.
Based on constructivism view, that expresses the claim to the land, sovereignty and national identity is consisted with "cultural ideals" and "reconstructing identity", the UAE's policy in following their claims on islands of Iran can be analyzed as an attempt in reconstructing its historical-cultural identity. Because identity-building is closely tied with the reason for creation of this country and express "occupation of these three islands by Iran" and repeating the claim of "UAE islands" and "attempts to retaking it" are considered as attempts towards exciting public opinion, expressing the reason of the development of this government in order to revival and strengthening national identity and promoting nationalism and required identity for national governance formation.
Abu Dhabi authorities also tries to attract the sympathy of other Arab countries against Iran, to build identity in international arena by making enemy and to advertise political stability against Iran and to redefine national interests by achieving political identity in the Arab's World.
UAE's performance from a constructivism view is not a kind of Arabic nationalism that lack deep innovations. The reasons are as follows:

Suffering from lack of strategic depth;
UAE follows identity-making.

Although such efforts can be successful in identity-building and in having a conception of otherness and enemy, but it can not be defined as a modern nationalism.


Volume 11, Issue 38
July 2015
Pages 60-87
  • Receive Date: 17 June 2013
  • Revise Date: 19 May 2014
  • Accept Date: 23 June 2014
  • First Publish Date: 22 June 2015