This paper is an account of the controversy between Iran and Iraq over the issue of the three Persian Gulf islands of Abu Musa and the Tunbs. It covers the time span from 1971 up to 1992 and focuses on the role of Iraq that hoisted the banner of opposition to Iran’s title to these islands, following the British withdrawal, and sought to spur the reluctant Arab conservative camp along. The paper seeks to describe how Iraq was on the driving seat on the issue at hand and how others, including the UAE, followed it reluctantly. To elucidate the point, the paper begins to review briefly the causes of enmity, real or perceived, that pitted Tehran and Baghdad against each other up to 2003. It is followed by depicting the leading role Iraq played in placing Iran’s move on the islands on the Arab agenda. It continues by reviewing the tactics Iraq used to keep the pressure on and revive the issue after the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. To conclude, the paper briefly refers to the reasons for Iraq’s failure in its efforts with regard to the islands and the new circumstances in 1992 under which the UAE could take initiative for the first time on the islands issue It seeks to show that the activity and/or dormancy around the islands issue depend rather on the regional status and power politics involving regional and global major actors.