Syed Mohammad Ali Hosseini
April 29 is celebrated in Iran as ‘Persian Gulf Day’. But why do Iranians care so much about the Persian Gulf that they dedicate a day to it in their official calendar? In fact, the Persian Gulf is not just a body of water, but part of the culture, history and identity of ours and the whole region. This gulf also plays an important role in the region’s politics and economy.
The Persian Gulf is an important and strategic historical gulf. Historically, the shores of the gulf and the rivers that flowed into it have been the site of the first human civilisations. By studying the history of the Persian Gulf, you can go to sea with ancient fishermen; hunt pearls from Qeshm Island, go to Mesopotamia and dig out the ancient inscriptions of Cyrus; listen to historical stories of the atrocities committed by Portuguese and British colonialists on the island of Hormuz, and hear the story of the outbreak of bloody wars, including Iraq’s imposed war on Iran and the so-called Persian Gulf War.
So, for Iranians, the Persian Gulf is not just a sea, but part of history, identity and national heritage. This gulf is the ancestral home of the Iranians and they will not let foreigners to log it without permission. But beyond Iran, the Persian Gulf is a symbol of civilisation, culture and history that connect the nations of the region. Therefore, now all the countries in the region have a responsibility to preserve the historical heritage of this region in the same historical and original way. These countries are not the same in terms of the history of creation and civilisation. Some civilisations date back more than 7,000 years, while others do not exceed a few decades; however, the historical character, originality and dignity of each country requires that it be proud of its resources and not be greedy about the cultural, geographical and ancient resources of others. No country is allowed to create a false identity for itself by distorting history, overturning the facts and stealing the cultural heritage of others.
The same importance of identical and strategic importance of the Persian Gulf has caused some racist individuals and organisations to use fake names for this gulf in the last few decades in order to be honoured by attributing it to them. But researchers, lawyers, historians and lovers of the Persian Gulf have prevented this with the help of the United Nations. All ancient geographical documents and maps in different languages such as Persian, Arabic, Spanish, etc. have referred to that gulf as the “Persian Gulf”. Thus, the distortion of its name is nothing but the blatant denial of a historical truth. The United Nations, citing ancient maps and texts, has been emphasising the name of the Persian Gulf since 1990 with the issuance of various resolutions and statements. Also, in October 2018, the World Intellectual Property Organisation registered the name of the Persian Gulf in an official document. Based on these documents, which stem from international law, no individual, government or organisation can call the Persian Gulf by using any other title.
The Persian Gulf is of special economic and unique importance. The gulf contains countless valuable marine resources and has valuable animal and plant species, the preservation of which requires the efforts of littoral states. The gulf is also an important international waterway, with its privileged location between the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa, making it a highway for maritime trade in the region and the world.
But perhaps most importantly, the Persian Gulf has abundant hydrocarbon resources, including oil and gas. For more than a hundred years, Iran and the countries of the region have exploited the hydrocarbon resources of the Persian Gulf and its shores, and much of the economic growth and development of the region (including urban, industrial and even social development) is due to these valuable resources. An important part of the region’s contemporary social and political history has also been affected by resources from oil and gas sales. And we all know that the future of the region is increasingly linked to the Persian Gulf.
All the historical, cultural-identical, economic, geo-economic and geopolitical aspects of the Persian Gulf make it doubly important to maintain the security of this gulf for the whole region. Unfortunately, in the last few decades, the serenity of the blue waves of the Persian Gulf has been disturbed by the presence of US-led naval fleets. Arms-producing governments have created a sense of false fear and intimidation in order to foment an arms race and sell as many deadly weapons as possible by spreading false narratives of the goals and strategies of countries in the region against each other. Therefore, the withdrawal of trans-regional forces, which are the source of convulsions, threats and the escalation of the arms race, is a requirement for maintaining lasting peace and security in the region.
Accordingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran has submitted a peace plan for the region, called “Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE)” to the United Nations. In this plan, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran suggests that Iran, in cooperation with the countries of the region, will ensure the security of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz. Hope is based on the principles of respect for territorial sovereignty, peaceful coexistence, good neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of countries. With this plan, the Islamic Republic of Iran once again emphasises the need for cooperation between all countries in the region and the promotion of multilateralism and mutual trust to maintain peace, tranquillity and security in the region.
The important message that needs to be conveyed in the world today is to let the Persian Gulf continue to be a place to connect the people of our region, not a place for fear, ambiguity and worry about the future of this area. The Islamic Republic of Iran has shown its goodwill for the transformation of the Persian Gulf into a gulf of friendship; now other regional and international actors are facing the great global test as well.