Iran redeployed a squadron of SU-25 'Frogfoot' from the Island of Abu Musa to the mainland. (Wikipedia)
DUBAI — Iran has redeployed a squadron of jet fighters off the strategic disputed island of Abu Musa in the Gulf, a senior US military official said.
The official only described the redeployment of 10 SU-25 Frogfoot close air support and ground attack aircraft — including seven flown from Iraq to Iran during the 1991 Gulf War — as “recent,” but did not say if it was due to the interim nuclear deal signed in Geneva on Nov. 24.
According to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the SU-25s present the backbone of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force (IRGCAF), which controls military operations on the disputed islands.
Iran originally claimed the strategically located islands of Abu Musa, as well as the Greater and Lesser Tunbs in November 1971, hours ahead of the formation of the United Arab Emirates.
Iran's seizure of the islands came after Mohammed Reza Pehlavi, the Shah of Iran relinquished claim to Bahrain, in what he had hoped would be a quid pro quo deal. "The islands provide a strategic position for the Iranian forces as they are close to their bases in Bandar Abbas," the US official said.
The Tunbs, which belong to the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, are close to the Iranian shore, while Abu Musa was administered by both Iran and the Emirate of Sharjah.
At a press conference in Kuwait this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that Iran is ready to discuss its dispute with the United Arab Emirates over Abu Musa.
In 2012, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad increased tensions with a highly publicized visit to Abu Musa, which has roughly 2,000 citizens. The UAE’s foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed called the trip “a flagrant violation of UAE sovereignty.”