Iran’s Relations with Bahrain



Wright argues that given its size and strategic location, Bahrain has always been vulnerable to its more powerful neighbours, with each vying for power or influence. This has resulted in a history of successive external powers exercising a controlling influence. Historically, Iran’s perspective on Bahrain was that the island had invariably been a part of Persia, except during the Portuguese occupation from 1507 to 1622. The main theme of this chapter is that the vast majority of Shiite-Bahrainis are primarily guided by their national and tribal identity, which afforded loyalty to the state, though some did succumb to the influence of transnational Shiite clerics based in Iraq, Syria or Iran. The majority of Shiite-Bahrainis, as elsewhere, look to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani as the source of religious guidance. Wright’s main conclusion is that the impact of the Iranian revolution was not uniform. The Bahraini society should be understood as a heterogeneous one, rather than a simple interpretation of being Sunni and Shiite.


Saudi Arabia Foreign Policy Regional Security Gulf Cooperation Council Iranian Government 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adamiyat, F. 1955. Bahrein Islands: A legal and diplomatic study of the British-Iranian controversy. New York: Frederick A. Praeger.Google Scholar
  2. Alhasan, H.T. 2011. The role of Iran in the failed coup of 1981: The IFLB in Bahrain. The Middle East Journal 65(4): 603–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. AlJazeera. 2015. Bahrain-Iran ties in crisis after ‘hostile remarks’. Retrieved 22 April, 2016, from
  4. ———. 2016. Arab League labels Hezbollah a ‘terrorist’ group. Retrieved 22 April, 2016, from
  5. Al-Rumaihi, M.G. 1973. Social and political change in Bahrain since the first world war [electronic resource].Google Scholar
  6. Alvandi, R. 2010. Muhammad Reza Pahlavi and the Bahrain question, 1968–1970. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37(2): 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bahri, L. 2000. The socioeconomic foundations of the Shiite opposition in Bahrain. Mediterranean Quarterly 11(3): 129–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bassiouni, M.C., and N.S. Rodley. 2011. Report of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry.Google Scholar
  9. BNA. 2015. Bahrain recalls ambassador from Iran. Retrieved 22 April, 2016, from
  10. Chubin, S. 1976. Iran and international organization: The use of the U.N. on selected issues, 1960–1971. Tehran: Institute for International Political and Economic Studies.Google Scholar
  11. Cole, J.R.I. 2002. Sacred space and holy war: The politics, culture and history of Shi’ite Islam. London: I.B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  12. Ehteshami, A., and R. Hinnebusch. 1997. Syria and Iran: Middle level powers in a penetrated region. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Ehteshami, A., and S. Wright. 2007. Political change in the Arab oil monarchies: From liberalization to enfranchisement. International Affairs 83(5): 913–932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ehteshami, A., and M. Zweiri. 2007. Iran and the rise of its neoconservatives: The politics of Tehran’s silent revolution. London: IB Tauris.Google Scholar
  15. Hunter, S. 2010. Iran’s foreign policy in the post-Soviet era: Resisting the new international order. Santa Barbara: Praeger.Google Scholar
  16. Jabar, F.A. 2003. The Shi’ite movement in Iraq. Saqi.Google Scholar
  17. Katzman, K. 2010. Bahrain: Reform, security, and US policy. Collingdale: Diane Publishing.Google Scholar
  18. Kelly, J.B. 1957. The Persian Claim to Bahrain. International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) 33: 51–70.Google Scholar
  19. Khadduri, M. 1951. Iran’s Claim to the Sovereignty of Bahrayn. American Journal of International Law 45: 631–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Louër, L. 2008. Transnational Shia politics: Religious and political networks in the Gulf. London: Hurst.Google Scholar
  21. Marschall, C. 2003. Iran’s Persian Gulf policy: From Khomeini to Khatami. London: Routledge Curzon.Google Scholar
  22. Matthiesen, T. 2013. Sectarian gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab spring that wasn’t. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Niethammer, K. 2011. Political reform and foreign policy in Persian Gulf Monarchies. In International politics of the Persian Gulf, ed. M. Kamrava, 234. New York: Syracuse University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Nonneman, G. 2005. Analyzing Middle East foreign policies and the relationship with Europe. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Onley, J. 2004. The politics of protection in the Gulf: The Arab rulers and the British resident in the nineteenth century. New Arabian Studies 6: 30–92.Google Scholar
  26. Peterson, J. 2004. Bahrain: The 1994–1999 Uprising.Arabian Peninsula Background Notes.Google Scholar
  27. Ramazani, R.K. 1966. The foreign policy of Iran: A developing nation in world affairs, 1500–1941. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  28. ———. 1972. The Persian Gulf: Iran’s role. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 1975. Iran’s foreign policy, 1941–1973: A study of foreign policy in modernizing nations. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2004. Ideology and pragmatism in Iran’s foreign policy. The Middle East Journal 58(4): 1–11.Google Scholar
  31. Sato, S. 2009. Britain’s decision to withdraw from the Persian Gulf, 1964–68: A pattern and a puzzle. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 37(1): 99–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walker, A.R. 1989. Recessional and Gulf war impacts on port development and shipping in the Gulf States in the 1980’s. GeoJournal 18(3): 273–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wright, S. 2008. Fixing the kingdom: Political evolution and socio-economic challenges in Bahrain. Doha: CIRS, Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar.Google Scholar
  34. Zweiri, M., and M. Zahid.2007. The victory of Al Wefaq: The rise of Shiite politics in Bahrain. Research Institute for European and American Studies, April.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Arts and SciencesQatar UniversityDohaQatar

Personalised recommendations