The Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tasked the IRGC with making Persian Gulf islands "habitable", IRGC Naval Force Commander Alireza Tangsiri has said in an interview with the Iranian state-run radio on Wednesday April 29.
Announcing this, Tangsiri warned that the IRGC would not allow "the presence of foreign warships in this region."
During the first half of the 1990s the administration of President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was preoccupied with the idea of making Persian Gulf islands habitable and economically dynamic in order to establish Iran's presence in a region that was partly disputed by ambitious littoral Arab states.
Rafsanjani turned Kish and Qeshm Islands into free trade zones and established several flights every day to those Islands, encouraged businessmen to open malls and trading offices there and erected many new buildings including recreation centers. Both of these islands had good infrastructure thanks to the development plans of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was ousted by the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Other islands including Siri, Farour and Bani Farour (Farourgan) remained largely arid with very little signs of human presence and wildlife.
Revealing Khamenei's plans to develop the islands, Tangsiri did not elaborate on why and when the ayatollah issued the order. But his interview was carried on the Iranian radio on the occasion of the national day of the Persian Gulf.
While warning foreign warships, Tangsiri also added "Foreigners have no place in this region. They should leave." Although it was taken as a comment about Western fleets in the Persian Gulf, but he could have been also talking about Arab residents of Abu Musa island.
The General Headquarters of the Islamic Republic Armed Forces warned U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf Monday that any "illegal and provocative move" will be met with the crushing response of Iranian forces,
Abu Musa, one of three islands that have been the subject of dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates is partly inhabited by Gulf Arabs and Iran's previous attempts to encourage Iranians to migrate to the island have not been significantly successful. The UAE has been claiming that it owns the three islands of Abu Musa, as well as the Greater and Lesser Tunbs since early 1970s, but Iran rejects the claims.
Posts on social media have also noted that the area is hardly habitable. Radio Farda's Iran analyst Reza Haqiqatnejad noted that Khamenei's order is unlikely to make any difference for the region as long as Iran's major foreign policy problems remain unsolved.
Tangsiri called the U.S. military presence in the region illegitimate, mindless of the fact that it was Iran's aggressive moves including attacks on civilian navigation in international waters in 2019 that prompted U.S. allies in the region to call for the presence of European and U.S. fleets.
He said when Khamenei wants to make the islands habitable, "this means that we want to make the region secure." He added that the IRGC has built international airports in Abu Musa and the Greater Tunb Islands and another island has been constructed in the Lesser Tunb.
Recently, after Iranian gunboats harassed a U.S. naval ship in the regional waters, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces in the region to retaliate against any intruding vessels in the future.
Wednesday morning, President Hassan Rouhani addressed "U.S. leaders" and told them to stop conspiring against the Iranian people.