After the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, Bahraini Shia militants became even more active, hijacking religious processions and public events, with the aim of furthering their agenda of an Islamic republic in Bahrain.
Iran’s revolutionary government adopted the policy of “spreading the Islamic revolution” and through its “Office of the Liberation Movements” in Tehran, revolutionary groups across the Arabian Gulf and Middle East region received generous funding.
The Shirazi Movement in Bahrain through its various front organizations and under the guidance of Hadi al-Mudarrisi was the most active segment of the Shia community which had adopted these revolutionary objectives. As a result of his subversive activities, Al-Mudarrisi was exiled.
Announcing the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
On the 2 of September, 1979 Hadi al-Mudarrisi held a press conference from Tehran announcing the formation of the “Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain”. According to Al-Mudarrisi, the Islamic Front wished to overthrow the ruling regime in Bahrain and replace it with an Islamic Republic.
The “Islamic Front” was a new name, but the institutional and ideological framework of the Islamic Front were already several years in the making, through clandestine efforts of figures like Hadi al-Mudarrisi, Mohammed al-Mahfouz, Jaafar al-Alawi and Mohammed al-Alawi.
So the Islamic Front emerged from pre-existing groups that had been active in Bahrain throughout the 1970s, like the Social Hussaini Fund,the Islamic Action Organization and the Islamic Guidance Society.
Islamic Front aims and ideology
The Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain’s Iranian inspiration, affiliations and support were obvious. The IFLB’s aims for Islamic Revolution were transparently Iran-inspired and it took its spiritual leadership from Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Shirazi; hence, those associated with the Islamic Front became known as the “Shirazi” faction.
Iran supported the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain and its Tehran office was very active, producing many publications which promoted the Islamic Front and Iran’s philosophy.
The activist Issa Marhoun stated: “We believe that the popular revolution is the best choice, and it is the best and quickest road by which to overthrow the reactionary regime in Bahrain.”
Iran’s influence was further obvious in the Islamic Front’s call for the “unification of all Islamic forces in the Gulf”. The Front stated that its aim was the “uprising of all Muslims under Imam Khomeini”.
In addition to heading the Islamic Front, Hadi al-Mudarrisi served as Khomeini’s “personal representative” in Bahrain.
The “Islamic Revolution Organization to Liberate the Arabian Peninsula,” in Saudi Arabia held the similar objectives to the Islamic Front and was just one of the many entities in the Gulf at that time, funded and directed by Iran.
As we shall see; it was only as the Iran-Iraq war increased in intensity in the early 1980s that Iran sought to fully exploit the potential strategic impact of these revolutionary movements to try and change the course of this regional war.
Origins of the Bahrain opposition: Other sections
A major divide within Shia Islam: Al-Da’wah and the Shirazis
Al-Da’wah and the Shirazis in Bahrain
The Da’wah current in Iraq
The Da’wah current in Bahrain
Why do Al-Da’wah & the Islamic Enlightenment society matter?
Origins of the Shirazi current in Bahrain
Consolidation and radicalization of the Shirazis
Differences between the Da’wah & Shirazi factions in Bahrain
Beginnings of labour activism and civil society movements
1953-56 unrest and the Higher Executive Committee
Emergence of left-wing, Marxist and Baathist parties
Whatever happened to Bahrain’s left-wing?
Who were the People’s Bloc?
Who were the Religious Bloc?
Religious Bloc versus the People’s Bloc in the National Assembly
Eclipse of the left
Politicization of Bahraini Shia
The influence of political Islam movements elsewhere
The influence of Ayatollah Khomeini
Politicization of religious festivals
The radicalizing influence of Iran’s Islamic revolution
Growing Shirazi radicalism
Exporting Iran’s Islamic Revolution
Al-Da’wah contacts with Iran’s revolutionary leadership
Changing Iranian allegiances
Saudi oppositionist movements
Announcing the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
Islamic Front aims and ideology
1981 coup attempt by Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain
Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain after the failed coup
The Shirazi movement loses favour in Iran
Declining influence: The Islamic front in the 1990s
Iranian support for Bahrain’s Al-Da’wah movement
Moving into the Iranian ideological orbit
What is Welayat Al-Faqih?
Breaking with Shia quietism
Ayatollah Isa Qassim and Welayat Al-Faqih
A new generation of Shia clerics
Hezbollah in Bahrain
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