The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
[ Home ]
[ About CAIS ]
[ Articles ]
[ Daily News ]
[ News Archive ]
[ Announcements ]
[ CAIS Seminars ]
[ Image Library ]
[ Copyright ]
[ Disclaimer ]
[ Submission ]
[ Search ]
[ Contact Us ]
[ Links ]
Mishmahig Islands (Today Bahrain)
Was Separated From Iran?"
By Dr Piruz Mojtahedzadeh
Translated from Persian for CAIS by: Abbas Farzamfar - 1998
following account is an extract and translation from the article “Bahrain: the
land of political movements”, published in Rahavard, a
Persian Journal of Iranian Studies, CA, USA VOL.XI, NO.39, 1995.
Dr P. Mojtahedzadeh
is a senior research member of the Geopolitics & International
Boundaries Research Centre in University of London (SOAS), and the Chairman of Board of
Directors of Urosevic Research Foundation, London.
Abstract: Mishmāhig Island, the present country known as
is a peninsular located in the southern half of the middle section of the
Persian Gulf, which consist of 33 big and small islands. The total areas
of these islands are 637 Square Kilometres. Population of Mishmahig is
estimated to be half a million. The Shiite population is estimated to be
of 70% to 75%b of the total, who most of them are from the “Bahaareyneh-gaan”;
the decedents of Iranian origin population of the former Iranian province.
is a peninsular located in the southern half of the middle section of the Persian Gulf, which consist of 33 big and small islands. The total areas of these islands are 637 Square Kilometres. Population of Mishmahig is estimated to be half a million. The Shiite population is estimated to be of 70% to 75%b of the total, who most of them are from the “Bahaareyneh-gaan”; the decedents of Iranian origin population of the former Iranian province.
The Ancient history
Middle-Persian/Pahlavi Mishmahig means "ewe-fish". The
past civilization of the Mishmahig (Bahrain) Islands goes back into the depth of
history, where “Dilmun culture” thrived two thousands years before
the time of second Iranian Empire, the Achaemenids, this land was on the
fringe of Iranian territory and when the forth dynasty, the Sasanian
Empire was achieving its peak, the encroachment of the Arabs into the
Iranian dominion of the southern Persian Gulf started. Shapur I took his
forces to Mishmāhig and the southern coasts of the Persian Gulf and
expelled the alien aggressors.
Shapour II was only a child, the Arab incursion into the southern coasts
of Iranian territory was mounted. As soon as Shapour II grew up, he
decided to once and for all cut their hands off Mishmāhig and other
Iranian territories of the southern coasts of the Persian Gulf forever. To
implement such a decision required a hard and unforgettable punishment for
the invaders. He sent his army to the region and pushed Arabs out of
Iranian territories into the depth of Arabia and restored the security of
the Persian Gulf.
is evident is that the maritime and costal of Bahrain were part of Iranian
territory throughout pre-Islamic Iran and
was invaded by the Arabs forces in 7th century which the migration of Bedouins from
Arabian deserts into southern Iranian territories began.
dynasty, freed and reunited much of the country including Mishmāhig
Islands, after controlling Abbasid caliphs at Baghdad, in Iranian province
of Khavārvarān (today known as Iraq), and was part of Iranian
realm until 1522 when Portuguese invaded the Island and overthrown the
Governor called Jaboor. By In 1602 at the time of soaring power of Safavid
dynasty, Iranian forces defeated Portuguese in ports and islands of Hormoz
and expelled them from Mishmāhig and reunited the islands with the
mainland Iran once again.
this period Mishmāhig was administered by the tribes of Iranian
origin of “Havāleh” in Zebāreh In northern of Qatar
Peninsula, when Zebareh was herself under the rule of Government of Fars.
Towards the end of Safavid periods though Zebareh Government was ruled
namely by Iran, but mostly it was an obstinate and inattentive Government
to the centre.
1737, when eradication of the local obstinacy was at its apogee, Lotf Ali
Khan-e Zand was made in charge by Nāder Shah of Afshār dynasty
to suppress the rogue ruler of Zebareh. From that time Mishmāhig was
under the direct rule of Government of Fars and it was the Sheikh Naser
Khan, the last Iranian ruler who on behalf of Karim Khan-e Zand the
founder of Zandian dynasty would administer the affairs of Zebareh and
British interference* and the implementation of politics of
“Depersonalisation of the Persian Gulf”
Al-Khalifeh of Ban Atebeh of the Arabs entered Zebareh in 1765 political
history of Mishmāhig and later Bahrain began a new period. It did not
take long that he planned to rule Zebareh and Bahrain. Sheikh Naser Khan
decided while punishing Bani-havaleh, to put Al Khalifeh in his place. He
surrounded Zabaerh but was defeated heavily.
in 1783 at the time of ruling of Karim Khan of Zandian dynasty fell into
hands of Al Khalifeh and the rule of Iran over these islands was once
Khalifeh since then was afflicted from encroachment and onslaught from
different forces. Vahhābis, Masghatian, Ottoman Turks and finally the
English; each one attempted on a few occasions to annex Bahrain to their
1830 Sheikh Abdul Al Khalifeh declared dependence to the Iranian
Government as the Egyptian Mohammad Pasha who took away Arabian Peninsula
from Vahhabis on behalf of the Ottoman Empire wanted to know if the people
of Bahrain are not in allegiance with Iran, they would ruled by him.
1860 the Government of Al Khalifeh repeated the same assertion when the
British were trying to overpower Bahrain. Sheikh Mohammad Ben Khalifeh at
that time wrote a letter to Nasseredian Shah declaring himself and his
brother and all of members of Al Khalifeh and the people of Bahrain to be
of Iranian subjects, and in another letter to the Iranian Foreign Minster,
Sheikh Mohammad demanded from the Government of Iran to be directly guided
and protected in the face of British pressure.
on, when the pressure of Colonel Sir Lewis Pelly increased on Al Khalifeh,
Sheikh Mohammad requested military assistance from Iran, but the
Government of Iran at that time did not had the ability to protect Bahrain
from the British aggression. Therefore, the Government of British India
eventually overpowered Bahrain and Colonel Pelly in May 1861 signed an
agreement with Sheikh Mohammad and later with his brother Sheikh Ali that
placed Bahrain under British rule and protection.
the British forces galloped in Bahrain, they noticed that Sheikh Mohammad
ben Khalifeh had hoisted Iranian Flags all over Bahrain’s towers and
forts. The British representatives in 1868 signed another agreement with
the rulers of Al Khalifeh to the effect Bahrain joined the British
protectorate territories in the Persian Gulf. Other agreements of 1880 and
1892 completed ultimately the protectorate status of Bahrain to the
British. So Bahrain, which was practically separated from Iran in 1783 but
would namely confirm her allegiance to Iran, was practically, namely and
officially separated from Iran between the years of 1868 and 1892 for the
unrest of people of Bahrain in fact began when the Britain colonialism
officially established her ultimate and complete dominance over this
territory in 1892. The first revolt and widespread uprising took place in
the month of March 1895 against Sheikh Essa Ben Ali the then ruler of Al
Khalifeh. Sheikh Essa was the first ruler of Al Khalifeh who was ruling on
that land without any relations with Iran. SIR Arnold Wilson, the
political representative of Britain in The Persian Gulf (the writer of
book” The Persian Gulf”), arrived in Bahrain from Masghat at this
time. The extent of this uprising developed further and some of the
protesters were killed by the British forces.
1911 a group of merchants of Bahrain, demanded the restriction of the
British influence in Bahrain. The leaders of this movement were arrested and exiled to
India. In 1923 the British deposed Sheikh Issa Ben Ali with accused of
opposing Britain and set up a permanent representative in Bahrain. This
coincided with renewal of Iran` claim over the ownership of Bahrain and
Sheikh Essa had been accused of welcoming this development.
Also the attachment shown by the People of Bahrain towards the
renewal of ownership’s claim by Iran caused concern for Britain. To
remedy these problems, Britain dispatched one of the most experienced
colonial officers, Sir Charles Belgrave as an advisor to the Emir of
Bahrain in 1926. His harsh measures caused to intensify the increasing
aversion of people towards him and resulted eventually in his expulsion
from Bahrain in 1957. Belgrave’s colonial undertakings were not limited
to the violent deeds against the people of Bahrain but a series of
dastardly initiatives, which included deiranisation of Bahrain and The
Persian Gulf, and the he proposal to change the name of Persian Gulf in
1937 which did not take place but carried out by Abdul Karim Ghasim, the
dictator of Baghdad.
1927 Reza Shah in a letter to the Allied Nations Community demanded the
return of Bahrain. Britain knew well that her weakened domination over
Bahrain would be equal to loose control all over the Persian Gulf, decided
to bring under control at any cost the uprisings of people of Bahrain. To
achieve this the British elements encouraged conflicts between Shiite and
Sunni in Bahrain.
Iranian tendency in the uprising of this period was to such an extent that
forced the Members of Parliament of Iran to pass a bill in the November of
1957, to the effect to announce Bahrain as the Fourteenth province of
Iran, and two empty seats were considered for the representatives of this
province. This action was detrimental for Iran as it caused numerous
problems in the international relations, specially with some United
Nations bodies, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and numbers of Arab countries and
provided a big excuse for Iraqi extremist to extent anti Iranian campaign
in the region. This action was against the people of Bahrain as not only
caused an increase sense of precaution of Britain and the Government of
Bahrain towards the Iranian connection of Bahrain’s people uprisings,
but forced the freedom loving people of Bahrain from expressing any
Iranian tendency in order to avoid accusation o f dependency to “the
expansionist policies of Iran in the Persian Gulf”, which at time was
being propagated intensely against her deserving rights in the Persian
this time, Britain carried out the dastardly cogitation to change the
demographic face of Bahrain. This policy of “Deiranisation” in Bahrain
consisted of importing a large number of different Arabs and others from
British colonies as labourers into Bahrain. At the same time it is
noteworthy that the demonstrations of year 1956 forced the rulers of Al
Khalifeh to leave Manama (The capital of modern Bahrain) and reside in the
village of Refae Al Gharbi and only Sunni Arab servitors as their
bodyguards were allowed to live in that village.
the Government of Al Khalifeh is considered a flexible and liberal
Government to compare to all the Arab Governments of the Persian Gulf,
especially in comparison to the Governments of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and to
the dictatorship of Iraq. The reason for this flexibility should be looked
into the following two nokteh: Firstly, the Arabs of Al Khalifeh (Bani
Atub) found themselves from the beginning of their arrival among Iranians
and could never do away with this notion of “Unwanted guests”,
secondly the synthesis of population of Bahrain has been and is different
the region Emirates.
the other Emirates have been tribal communities, which have grown around
the dominating tribe, Bahrain has been an urban society from the ancient
times like the societies of Iran and Mesopotamia. For this reason the
rulers of Bahrain have not been able to deprive every members of society
from taking part in the affairs of the country.
1965, Iran began dialogues with Britain in anticipation to determine her
borders in the Persian Gulf. It was not long enough that the endurance of
these talks became impossible as both parties realised with the existing
extensive differences over borders and territory in the region; including
the dispute relating to the dominion of Bahrain, the determination of
maritime borders between the northern and southern countries of the
Persian Gulf is not feasible.
the same time Malek Faisal, the King of Saudi Arabia arrived in Iran,
which included the creation of Islamic Conference; and the decision to
determine the maritime borders of the two countries. In return, it was
agreed that Shah of Iran would visit Saudi Arabia in 1967. A week before
this visit, the Saudis received Sheikh Essa Ben Salman Al Khalifeh, the
Emir of Bahrain AS A HEAD OF State in Riyadh. This caused the cancellation
of Shah's visit and the relation between the two countries tarnished
severely. The mediation by Sultan Hasan, the king of Morocco repatriated
the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Iran and Britain agreed that the matter of Dominion Of Bahrain to put to
international judgment and requested the United Nations General Secretary
to take on this responsibility.
was a Plebiscite and not a Referendum!
Iran was trying hard so that the destiny of Bahrain would be determined through a referendum. Britain was sternly opposed to this and the Government of Bahrain was not in any way prepared to accept such a referendum. The reason for opposing was that the Government of Al Khalifeh saw the legal concept of holding such a referendum would be to negate the 150 years of his rule in Bahrain. Finally Iran and Britain agreed to instead of holding Referendum, to request United Nations through conducting a Plebiscite (Nazar khaahi e oumoumi; opinion poll) in Bahrain, to determine the political future of that territory. Outant The then General Secretary of the United Nations, in reply to the letters of Iran and Britain in the month declared in the month of March 1970, his readiness to fulfill this mission and Sinior Vittorio Winspere Guicciardi the Manager of The United Nation office in Geneva was put in charge to execute the task. Guicciardi and his colleagues entered in Bahrain and began the task of conducting the Plebiscite on 30 March 1970.
This mission continued more than two
weeks and during this period Guicciardi conducted meetings with the
leaders of different groups and classes of people of Bahrain and finally
surrounded his report no. 9772 to the General Secretary of the United
Nations. Clause 57 of this
report indicates: (the result of investigation has convinced me that
the absolute majority of people of Bahrain demand that their territory to
be officially recognised as an independent country with complete
soverngnity and freedom of choosing relations with other nations.)
The report of Guicciardi was surrounded to the Security Council of the United Nations and in the meeting of 11th May 1970 was discussed. Following the ratification of this report, the mentioned resolution of Security Council was conveyed to the Governments of Iran and Britain.
The Governments of Iran reported the result of the mission and the resolution of the United Nations to the two assemblies (The lower and upper houses of Parliaments). The report of The Government was ratified by Iranian National Assembly (Mjles-e Shorāy-e Melli) in 14th of May, and by Iranian Senate (Majles-e Senā) on 18th of May.
Copyright © 1998-2011 The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS)