The seizure on 25 July of a boatload of weapons and explosives of Iranian origin headed for Bahrain is just another page on the long chapters of Iran’s history of interference in Bahrain. Over recent months, several shipments of weapons were impounded, coming from Iran, for militants trained by Iran, seeking to implement Iran’s hostile policy objectives through terrorism.
Over past decades Bahrain has endured a number of attempts supported by Iran to overthrow the monarchy and replace it with an Islamic republic. Starting with the 1981 coup attempt – and continuing with the 2011 unrest when Iran mobilized its media to attack Bahrain; aided militants; and incited hatred through provocative official statements.
Luckily for Bahrainis, these attempts failed and Bahrain stands today as a sovereign state which respects its neighbours, despite ideological and political differences. The main objective of Iranian intervention is to expand the so-called Islamic Republic’s control by triggering Sunni-Shia divisions and gaining control of Arab states, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and ultimately Bahrain – the gateway to the Arabian Gulf nations.
“Iran is once again an empire whose influence extends to Iraq and beyond,” was the astonishing recent claim by a close ally of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, demonstrating the breathtaking arrogance with which Iran’s leadership view the region. The same official claimed that much of the Arab world had been part of the Persian empire and was becoming so again – showing a complete ignorance of the region’s history.
With the news of yet another attempt to sponsor terrorism in Bahrain and following more hostile comments by Iranian leaders against Bahrain, thousands of ordinary Bahrainis have come out through the media and social media in recent days loudly condemning Iran’s hostile intentions.
Bahrainis witnessed Iranian intervention long before the 2011 unrest, with inflammatory statements by Iranian officials claiming Bahrain to be the 14th province of Iran; the failed coup attempt of 1981 led by the ‘Islamic” Front for the Liberation of Bahrain an organization funded by the Iranians and led by Abdulhadi Modarissi, a core follower of Ayatollah Khamenei; along with the repeated recent smuggling attempts of Iranian weapons into our country.
The 2011 BICI report failed to cite evidence of Iranian intervention because of the confidential nature of the relevant information. Many journalists and supporters of the extremist segments of the opposition took this as a starting point for their claims that Iran does not support the movement in Bahrain and that the opposition has no links with Iran; even though the head of the BICI Investigation, Cherif Bassiouni several times acknowledged to the mediathat Iranian interference was “blatant”.
The existence of Iranian support for the opposition and interference in Bahrain’s affairs does not require an independent commission of inquiry or the government’s disclosure of confidential information. We Bahrainis see and feel it around us, in the Shia religious processions with images of Ayatollah Khomeini and Khamenei carried around for decades; the Iranian media attacking Bahrain with fabricated stories that damaged our country and caused further sectarian division; Iran’s display of power by making ridiculous claims towards Bahrain; and repeated support for coup attempts since the 1980s.
Gladly for Bahrainis, Iran’s attempts keep failing, or else our country would’ve turned into a mini-Iran with the following awful record:
- Thousands of executions
- Ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims such as the Bahais
- Extreme poverty, high rates of drug addiction, crime and unemployment
- High level of migration to other countries
- Aggression against neighbouring states
- Covering up women and depriving them of their basic rights
- No access to the outside world due to the government’s control of internet connections
- Sanctions for decades leading to a decline in the economy
- Rule of one man – ‘the Supreme Leader’ – while the country claims to be a republic
The majority of Bahrainis have stood united in the face of Iranian intervention, with an exception of a small minority who pledged its allegiance to the Supreme Leader of Iran by not denouncing his statements and failing to criticize hostile Iranian policies.
Our message to this minority and to the leaders of Iran is that our country has been a prime example of good diplomacy with its neighbours; our land is known to be an oasis of tolerance and respect among different sects and religions; our identity is Arab whether we are Shia or Sunni. We are a part of the Arabian Gulf where history has witnessed that we support each other and stand together as a wider Arab nation.
We hope that Iran reconsiders its approach towards its neighbours and pays more attention to its internal affairs including its human rights record and that it becomes a friend rather than a foe.
We reject Iranian interference, we always have and we always will.