Shatt al-Arab

Last updated
Shatt al-Arab
Arvand rud
Shat al-arab-22.JPG
Shatt al-Arab near Basra, Iraq
Location
CountryIraq, Iran
Physical characteristics
Source 
 - location TigrisEuphrates confluence at Al-Qurnah and Karun River in Iran [1]
 - elevation4 m (13 ft)
Mouth  
 - location
Persian Gulf
 - elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length200 km (120 mi)
Basin size884,000 km2 (341,000 sq mi)
Discharge 
 - average1,750 m3/s (62,000 cu ft/s)

Shatt al-Arab (Arabic : شط العرب, River of the Arabs) or Arvand Rud (Persian : اَروَندرود, Swift River) is a river of some 200 km (120 mi) in length, formed by the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris in the town of al-Qurnah in the Basra Governorate of southern Iraq. The southern end of the river constitutes the border between Iraq and Iran down to the mouth of the river as it discharges into the Persian Gulf. It varies in width from about 232 metres (761 ft) at Basra to 800 metres (2,600 ft) at its mouth. It is thought that the waterway formed relatively recently in geologic time, with the Tigris and Euphrates originally emptying into the Persian Gulf via a channel further to the west.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is one of the Western Iranian languages within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and some other regions which historically were Persianate societies and considered part of Greater Iran. It is written right to left in the Persian alphabet, a modified variant of the Arabic script, which itself evolved from the Aramaic alphabet.

River Natural flowing watercourse

A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of water. Small rivers can be referred to using names such as stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill. There are no official definitions for the generic term river as applied to geographic features, although in some countries or communities a stream is defined by its size. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; examples are "run" in some parts of the United States, "burn" in Scotland and northeast England, and "beck" in northern England. Sometimes a river is defined as being larger than a creek, but not always: the language is vague.

Euphrates river in Asia

The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.

Contents

The Karun River, a tributary which joins the waterway from the Iranian side, deposits large amounts of silt into the river; this necessitates continuous dredging to keep it navigable. [2]

Karun river in Iran

The Kārūn is Iran's most effluent and only navigable river. It is 950 km (590 mi) long. It rises in the Zard Kuh mountains of the Bakhtiari district in the Zagros Range, receiving many tributaries, such as the Dez and the Kuhrang, before passing through the capital of the Khuzestan Province of Iran, the city of Ahvaz before emptying to its mouth into Shatt al-Arab.

Silt is granular material of a size between sand and clay, whose mineral origin is quartz and feldspar. Silt may occur as a soil or as sediment mixed in suspension with water and soil in a body of water such as a river. It may also exist as soil deposited at the bottom of a water body, like mudflows from landslides. Silt has a moderate specific area with a typically non-sticky, plastic feel. Silt usually has a floury feel when dry, and a slippery feel when wet. Silt can be visually observed with a hand lens, exhibiting a sparkly appearance. It also can be felt by the tongue as granular when placed on the front teeth.

The area is judged to hold the largest date palm forest in the world. In the mid-1970s, the region included 17 to 18 million date palms, an estimated one-fifth of the world's 90 million palm trees. But by 2002, war, salt, and pests had wiped out more than 14 million of the palms, including around 9 million in Iraq and 5 million in Iran. Many of the remaining 3 to 4 million trees are in poor condition. [3]

Date palm palm tree cultivated for its edible sweet fruit

Phoenix dactylifera, commonly known as date or date palm, is a flowering plant species in the palm family, Arecaceae, cultivated for its edible sweet fruit. Although its place of origin is unknown because of long cultivation, it probably originated from the Fertile Crescent region straddling between Egypt and Mesopotamia. The species is widely cultivated across Northern Africa, The Middle East, The Horn of Africa and South Asia, and is naturalized in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. P. dactylifera is the type species of genus Phoenix, which contains 12–19 species of wild date palms, and is the major source of commercial production.

Iraq republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially known as the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

Iran Country in Western Asia

Iran, also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.

In Middle Persian literature and the Shahnameh (written between c. 977 and 1010 AD), the name اروندArvand is used for the Tigris, the confluent of the Shatt al-Arab. [4] Iranians also used this name specifically to designate the Shatt al-Arab during the later Pahlavi period, and continue to do so after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. [4]

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

<i>Shahnameh</i> long epic Persian poem written by Ferdowsi

The Shahnameh is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 CE and is the national epic of Greater Iran. Consisting of some 50,000 "distichs" or couplets, the Shahnameh is the world's longest epic poem written by a single poet. It tells mainly the mythical and to some extent the historical past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. Modern Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and the greater region influenced by Persian culture celebrate this national epic.

Pahlavi dynasty Dynasty that ruled Iran from 1925 until 1979

The Pahlavi dynasty was the last ruling house of the Imperial State of Iran from 1925 until 1979, when the 2,500 years of continuous Persian monarchy was overthrown and abolished as a result of the Iranian Revolution. The dynasty was founded by Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925, a former brigadier-general of the Persian Cossack Brigade, whose reign lasted until 1941 when he was forced to abdicate by the Allies after the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. He was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran.

History

Map Shatt al arab.png
Map

Conflicting territorial claims and disputes over navigation rights between Iran and Iraq were among the main factors for the Iran–Iraq War that lasted from 1980 to 1988, when the pre-1980 status quo was restored. The Iranian cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr and the Iraqi city and major port of Basra are situated along this river.

Iran–Iraq War 1980–1988 war between Iran and Iraq

The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq, beginning on 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and ending on 20 August 1988, when Iran accepted the UN-brokered ceasefire. Iraq wanted to replace Iran as the dominant Persian Gulf state, and was worried that the 1979 Iranian Revolution would lead Iraq's Shi'ite majority to rebel against the Ba'athist government. The war also followed a long history of border disputes, and Iraq planned to annex the oil-rich Khuzestan Province and the east bank of the Shatt al-Arab.

Status quo is a Latin phrase meaning the existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social or political issues. In the sociological sense, it generally applies to maintain or change existing social structure and values. With regard to policy debate, the status quo refers to how conditions are at the time and how the affirmative team can solve these conditions for example "The countries are now trying to maintain a status quo with regards to their nuclear arsenal which will help them if the situation gets any worse."

Abadan, Iran City in Khuzestan, Iran

Abadan is a city and capital of Abadan County, Khuzestan Province which is located in the southwest of Iran. It lies on Abadan Island, the island is bounded in the west by the Arvand waterway and to the east by the Bahmanshir outlet of the Karun River, 53 kilometres (33 mi) from the Persian Gulf, near the Iran–Iraq border.

The background of the issue stretches mainly back to the Ottoman-Safavid era, way prior to the establishment of an independent Iraq, which happened in the 20th century. In the early 16th century, the Iranian Safavids gained most of what is present-day Iraq, but lost it later by the Peace of Amasya (1555) to the expanding Ottomans. [5] In the early 17th century, the Safavids under king ( shah ) Abbas I (r. 1588-1629) regained it, only to lose it permanently (along, temporarily, with control over the waterway), to the Ottomans by the Treaty of Zuhab (1639). [6] This treaty, which roughly re-established the common borders of the Ottoman and Safavid Empires the way they had been in 1555, never demarcated a precise and fixed boundary regarding the frontier in the south. Nader Shah (r. 1736-1747) restored Iranian control over the waterway, but the Treaty of Kerden (1746) restored the Zuhab boundaries, and ceded it back to the Turks. [7] [8] The First Treaty of Erzurum (1823) concluded between Ottoman Turkey and Qajar Iran, resulted in the same. [9] [10]

Safavid dynasty Twelver Shiʻi dynasty of Iran

The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran, often considered the beginning of modern Iranian history. The Safavid shahs ruled over one of the Gunpowder Empires. They ruled one of the greatest Iranian empires after the 7th-century Muslim conquest of Iran, and established the Twelver school of Shia Islam as the official religion of the empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history.

Peace of Amasya

The Peace of Amasya was a treaty agreed to on May 29, 1555 between Shah Tahmasp of Safavid Iran and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire at the city of Amasya, following the Ottoman–Safavid War of 1532–1555.

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, also historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

The Second Treaty of Erzurum was signed by Ottoman Turkey and Qajar Iran in 1847 after protracted negotiations, which included British and Russian delegates. Even afterwards, backtracking and disagreements continued, until British Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, was moved to comment in 1851 that "the boundary line between Turkey and Persia can never be finally settled except by an arbitrary decision on the part of Great Britain and Russia". A protocol between the Ottomans and the Persians was signed in Istanbul in 1913, which declared that the Ottoman-Persian frontier run along the thalweg , but World War I canceled all plans.

Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Iraq 1932-1959 depicting the Shatt and the forest Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Iraq.svg
Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Iraq 1932–1959 depicting the Shatt and the forest

During the Mandate of Iraq (1920–32), the British advisors in Iraq were able to keep the waterway binational under the thalweg principle that worked in Europe: the dividing line was a line drawn between the deepest points along the stream bed. In 1937, Iran and Iraq signed a treaty that settled the dispute over control of the Shatt al-Arab. [11] The 1937 treaty recognized the Iranian-Iraqi border as along the low-water mark on the eastern side of the Shatt al-Arab except at Abadan and Khorramshahr where the frontier ran along the thalweg (the deep water line) which gave Iraq control of almost the entire waterway; provided that all ships using the Shatt al-Arab fly the Iraqi flag and have an Iraqi pilot, and required Iran to pay tolls to Iraq whenever its ships used the Shatt al-Arab. [12]

The Shatt al-Arab and the forest were depicted in the middle of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Iraq, from 1932–1959.

Arab ferryman on the Shatt al-Arab 1958 The Arab boatman brings the sailors ashore.jpg
Arab ferryman on the Shatt al-Arab 1958
Evening atmosphere on the Shatt al-Arab Evening atmosphere on the Shatt al-Arab - 1958.png
Evening atmosphere on the Shatt al-Arab

Under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the late 60s, Iran developed a strong military and took a more assertive stance in the Near East. [11] In April 1969, Iran abrogated the 1937 treaty over the Shatt al-Arab and Iranian ships stopped paying tolls to Iraq when they used the Shatt al-Arab. [13] The Shah argued that the 1937 treaty was unfair to Iran because almost all river borders around the world ran along the thalweg, and because most of the ships that used the Shatt al-Arab were Iranian. [14] Iraq threatened war over the Iranian move, but on 24 April 1969, an Iranian tanker escorted by Iranian warships (Joint Operation Arvand) sailed down the Shatt al-Arab, and Iraq--being the militarily weaker state--did nothing. [12] The Iranian abrogation of the 1937 treaty marked the beginning of a period of acute Iraqi-Iranian tension that was to last until the Algiers Accords of 1975. [12]

All United Nations attempts to intervene and mediate the dispute were rebuffed. Under Saddam Hussein, Baathist Iraq claimed the entire waterway up to the Iranian shore as its territory. In response, Iran in the early 1970s became the main patron of Iraqi Kurdish groups fighting for independence from Iraq. In March 1975, Iraq signed the Algiers Accord in which it recognized a series of straight lines closely approximating the thalweg (deepest channel) of the waterway, as the official border, in exchange for which Iran ended its support of the Iraqi Kurds. [15]

In 1980, Hussein released a statement claiming to abrogate the 1975 treaty and Iraq invaded Iran. International law, however, holds that in all cases no bilateral or multilateral treaty can be abrogated by one party only. The main thrust of the military movement on the ground was across the waterway which was the stage for most of the military battles between the two armies. The waterway was Iraq's only outlet to the Persian Gulf, and thus, its shipping lanes were greatly affected by continuous Iranian attacks. [16]

When the Al-Faw peninsula was captured by the Iranians in 1986, Iraq's shipping activities virtually came to a halt and had to be diverted to other Arab ports, such as Kuwait and even Aqaba, Jordan. At the end of the Iran–Iraq War, both sides agreed to once again treat the Algiers Accord as binding.

Recent conflicts

Shatt al-Arab near Basra city, Iraq Basra-Shatt-Al-Arab.jpg
Shatt al-Arab near Basra city, Iraq

In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the waterway was a key military target for the Coalition Forces. Since it is the only outlet to the Persian Gulf, its capture was important in delivering humanitarian aid to the rest of the country, and also to stop the flow of operations trying to break the naval blockade against Iraq. The British Royal Marines staged an amphibious assault to capture the key oil installations and shipping docks located at Umm Qasr on the al-Faw peninsula at the onset of the conflict.

Following the end of the war, the UK was given responsibility, subsequently mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1723, to patrol the waterway and the area of the Persian Gulf surrounding the river mouth. They were tasked until 2007 to make sure that ships in the area were not being used to transport munitions into Iraq. British forces also trained Iraqi naval units to take over the responsibility of guarding their waterways after the Coalition Forces left Iraq in December 2011.

On two separate occasions, Iranian forces operating on the Shatt al-Arab have captured British Royal Navy sailors who they claim have trespassed into their territory.

See also

Related Research Articles

Geography of Iraq

The geography of Iraq is diverse and falls into five main regions: the desert, Upper Mesopotamia, the northern highlands of Iraq, Lower Mesopotamia, and the alluvial plain extending from around Tikrit to the Persian Gulf.

Tigris river which flows from Turkey through Iraq and Syria

The Tigris is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq and empties itself into the Persian Gulf.

Basra City in Basra Governorate, Iraq

Basra is an Iraqi city located on the Shatt al-Arab between Kuwait and Iran. It had an estimated population of 2.5 million in 2012. Basra is also Iraq's main port, although it does not have deep water access, which is handled at the port of Umm Qasr.

Basra Governorate Governorate in Iraq

Basra Governorate is a governorate in southern Iraq, bordering Kuwait to the south and Iran to the east. The capital is the city of Basra. Other districts of Basra include Al-Qurnah, Az Zubayr, Al Midaina, Shatt Al Arab, Abu Al Khaseeb and Al Faw located on the Persian Gulf.

Tigris–Euphrates river system River system in the Middle East

The Tigris and Euphrates, with their tributaries, form a major river system in Western Asia. From sources originating in eastern Turkey, they flow by/through Syria through Iraq into the Persian Gulf. The system is part of the Palearctic Tigris–Euphrates ecoregion, which includes Iraq and parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan.

Al-Faw Peninsula

The al-Faw Peninsula is a peninsula in the Persian Gulf, located in the extreme southeast of Iraq. The marshy peninsula is 20 km (12 mi) southeast of Iraq's second largest city, Basra, and is part of a delta for the Shatt al-Arab river, formed by the confluence of the major Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The al-Faw Peninsula borders Iran to the northeast, with the cities of Abadan and Khorramshahr on the opposite side of the Shatt al-Arab, and Kuwait to the southwest, opposite from Bubiyan Island and Warbah Island, near the Iraqi city of Umm Qasr.

1975 Algiers Agreement

The 1975 Algiers Agreement was an agreement between Iran and Iraq to settle their border disputes and conflicts, and it served as basis for the bilateral treaties signed on 13 June and 26 December 1975. The agreement was meant to end the disputes between Iraq and Iran on their borders in Shatt al-Arab and Khuzestan, but the main reason for Iraq was to end the Kurdish rebellion. Less than six years after signing the treaty, on 17 September 1980, Iraq abolished the treaty but under international law, one nation cannot unilaterally reject a previously ratified treaty, and the treaty had no clause providing for abrogation by one nation only.

Iran–Iraq border separates the territories of Iran and Iraq

The Iran–Iraq boundary runs for 1,458 kilometers, from the Shatt al-Arab waterway to the tripoint boundary with Turkey at the Kuh e-Dalanper. Although the boundary was first determined in 1639, certain disputes fester, particularly surrounding navigation on the Shatt al-Arab waterway.

2004 Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel

The 2004 Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel took place in the Shatt al-Arab waterway on 21 June. Six Royal Marines and two Royal Navy sailors were captured. The British servicemen were seized while training Iraqi river patrol personnel after Iran said they had strayed to the Iranian side of the waterway. They were threatened with legal action initially but released three days later following diplomatic discussions between Jack Straw, then British Foreign Secretary, and Kamal Kharazi, then Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The weapons and boats of the British personnel were confiscated and have not been returned.

Operation Fath-ol-Mobin was a major Iranian military operation conducted during the Iran–Iraq War, in March 1982. The operation was led by Lt. General Ali Sayad Shirazi, and was conducted in four phases.

Operation Karbala-4

Operation Karbala-4 was an Iranian offensive in the Iran–Iraq War on the southern front. The operation was launched after the failure of Operation Karbala-2 and Operation Karbala-3 to move the Iraqi lines in an effort to capture Iraqi territory.

Arvand may refer to:

Umm Qasr Port port in Iraq

Umm Qasr Port is Iraq's only deep water port, part of the city of Umm Qasr.

Iran–Iraq relations

Iran–Iraq relations extend for millennia into the past. The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Republic of Iraq share a long border and an ancient cultural and religious heritage. In ancient times Iraq formed part of the core of Persia for about a thousand years.


During the early Islamic centuries, the Daylamite Buwayhid king, Panah Khusraw Adud ad-Dawlah, ordered the digging of a canal to join the Karun River, which at the time emptied independently into the Persian Gulf through the Bahmanshir channel, to the Shatt al-Arab waterway, the joint estuary of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The extra water from the Karun, which, at times during the spring melt, discharged over 27 times the volume of the Tigris-Euphrates water that reaches the Shatt al-Arab) makes the joint estuary more reliably navigable.

The Bahmanshir channel is a secondary estuary of the Karun River that parallels the Arvand Rud/Shatt al-Arab waterway on the far side of the Abadan Island for 70 miles before emptying into the Persian Gulf.

The Al Faw peninsula landings, also known as Operation DAWN 8, was a 1986 Iranian amphibious operation on the Al Faw peninsula. Taking place between 9 and 25 February, the assault across the Shatt al-Arab achieved significant tactical and operational surprise, allowing the Iranian forces to initially gain a quick victory over Iraqi Popular Army forces in the area. Considered a turning point in the war, unlike the tactics of human wave assaults used elsewhere at the front, the operation was a sophisticated and carefully planned amphibious operation, supported by a land-based diversion employing 100,000 troops of the Seventh Corps north of the Basra area, and using deception.

Joint Operation Arvand

The Joint Operation Arvand was a show of force operation orchestrated in April 1969 by the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces following Iraqi claim for the sovereign right to Shatt al-Arab/Arvand Rud and threatening to block passage of vessels unless they fly Iraqi flag.

Shatt al-Arab clashes refers to clashes that took place in Shatt al-Arab region from 1936 up to 1980 concordant with Iran–Iraq War. The Shatt al-Arab was considered an important channel for both states' oil exports, and in 1937, Iran and the newly independent Iraq signed a treaty to settle the dispute. In the 1975 Algiers Agreement, Iraq made territorial concessions—including the Shatt al-Arab waterway—in exchange for normalized relations. In return for Iraq recognizing that the frontier on the waterway ran along the entire thalweg, Iran ended its support of Iraq's Kurdish guerrillas.

References

  1. "Iraq - Major Geographical Features". country-data.com. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  2. "Iraq - Major Geographical Features". country-data.com. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  3. "UNEP/GRID-Sioux Falls". unep.net. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  4. 1 2 Encyclopædia Iranica : Arvand-Rud, by M. Kasheff. – Retrieved on 18 October 2007.
  5. Mikaberidze 2015, p. xxxi.
  6. Dougherty & Ghareeb 2013, p. 681.
  7. Shaw 1991, p. 309.
  8. Marschall, Christin (2003). Iran's Persian Gulf Policy: From Khomeini to Khatami. Routledge. pp. 1–272. ISBN   978-1134429905.
  9. Kia 2017, p. 21.
  10. Potts 2004.
  11. 1 2 Karsh, Efraim The Iran-Iraq War 1980–1988, London: Osprey, 2002 page 7
  12. 1 2 3 Karsh, Efraim The Iran-Iraq War 1980–1988, London: Osprey, 2002 page 8
  13. Karsh, Efraim The Iran-Iraq War 1980–1988, London: Osprey, 2002 pages 7–8
  14. Bulloch, John and Morris, Harvey The Gulf War, London: Methuen, 1989 page 37.
  15. Abadan Archived 2009-08-08 at the Wayback Machine ., Sajed, Retrieved on March 16, 2009.
  16. Abadan Archived 2009-08-08 at the Wayback Machine ., Sajed, Retrieved on March 16, 2009.

Sources

Coordinates: 30°24′26″N48°09′06″E / 30.40722°N 48.15167°E / 30.40722; 48.15167