Contesting the Iranian Revolution as a turning-point discourse in Bahraini contentious politics
© 2017 Grelach Press
Reason for embargo
Under temporary embargo pending publisher permission. The final version is available from Gerlach Press
This chapter contends that there is an overemphasis in the academic literature on the effect the Iranian Revolution had on shifting the dynamics of contentious politics in Bahrain. This has created a discourse in which belligerents are framed according to the contemporary transatlantic antipathy towards Iran, reifying a narrative that can contribute to the perpetuation of anti-Shi‘a and anti-Baḥārna prejudice. Using a closer reading of historical and modern sources, this paper argues that it was not solely the Islamic Revolution, nor the discovery of the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain, that shifted government policy towards Bahrain’s Shi‘a. Instead, ethno-religious discrimination is rooted in the Al Khalifa legacy of conquest, which was ossified by colonial intervention, but reinvigorated by Bahrain’s Independence, growing Saudi influence, the Iran-Iraq war, and a historically-rooted Al Khalifa antipathy towards the indigenous population. Thus, changes in the modalities of repression are better explained by a multitude of interacting factors, rather than the totalising influence of Iran.
This is the author accepted manuscript.
Exeter Critical Gulf Series 1
In: Gulfization of the Arab World, edited by Marc Owen Jones, Ross Porter and Marc Valeri