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Iranians Suspect Their Government Has Sold Out Iran’s Rights In Caspian Sea


File - (R-L) Presidents of Turkmenistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran meeting to discuss their respective rights in the Caspian Sea. August 12, 2018.

While many Iranians on social media are complaining about what they believe is Iran's unfair share of the Caspian Sea, the spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran's Foreign Ministry has dismissed "speculations" about the legal regime of the Caspian Sea as "untrue."

The speculations and criticism of the Iranian government for compromising "Iran's rights" started on 29 July, when Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at Iran's Parliament (Majles) that the Caspian Legal Regime has been "finalized."

Zarif had added that Iran signed the convention in 2018 after it was approved by the Supreme Council of National Security, which is chaired by President Hassan Rouhani.

The Caspian Sea, which was shared by Iran and Soviet Union before the latter's fall in 1992, has been divided in the new regime between Iran, Russia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

According to some unofficial estimates Iran's share of the Caspian has been reduced from 50 percent to as little as 11 percent.

One of the most vocal critics of the new legal regime for the Caspian Sea, is Prince Reza Pahlavi, the heir to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi whose reign was terminated by the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Prince Reza's supporters have launched a campaign on social media against the new legal regime (convention).

Reza Pahlavi has called on Iranians to "rise and protect the country's interests and territorial integrity by forcing those who have occupied seats in the Iranian Parliament to defend the country's rights." He reminded Iranians that "unity and sympathy are the only paths to victory."

The Prince also questioned the "silence" of lawmakers in the face of the new Caspian Sea convention he believes caused harm to Iran's interests and rights.

Referring to talks in Kazakhstan last year among littoral countries and Iran's reluctant position, he said it was unlikely that the Islamic Republic would guard Iran's interests.

The leaders of the five Caspian littoral states met in Aqtau, Kazakhstan, on August 12, 2018 to sign the convention on the legal status of the Caspian Sea after many years of debates on the issue.

The leaders met, and signed the convention, but after more than 20 years it was clear that some of the same issues that have prevented an agreement palatable to all five countries remained.

The five presidents agreed on most of the issues, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani mentioned that the delimitation of the sea remains an issue for Iran. Rouhani said further talks would be needed to resolve the division of the Caspian.

Meanwhile, other Iranians on social media accused the Tehran regime of selling out Iranian territory to foreigners and accepting a meagre 11 to 13 percent share of the Sea.

In an apparent reply to public concern about Iran's rights in the Caspian Sea, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said "nothing new has taken place as regards the Caspian Sea," adding that first, demarcations must be finalized and then the Caspian Sea legal regime will have to be approved by the five littoral states."

When all this is done, said Mousavi, the administration must come up with a bill and have it approved by parliament.

Mousavi stressed once again that "none of these stages have been completed yet."

He added that Zarif went to Majles on July 29 only to answer the questions MPs had raised last year about the convention.

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