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May 29, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 972

Iran Calls On Shi'ites In Bahrain To Topple Their Country's Sunni Aal Khalifa Regime

May 29, 2013 | By A. Savyon and Yossi Mansharof*
Bahrain, Iran, Bangladesh, Bangladesh | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 972

Introduction

In February 2011, popular Shi'ite protests erupted in Bahrain against the ruling Sunni Aal Khalifa regime, which was suppressed by this regime with the aid of Saudi forces.[1] Since then, the Iranian regime has been consistently rejecting claims by the Sunni Arab Gulf states that it is fanning the flames of the crisis in Bahrain and striving to undermine the Aal Khalifa regime with the aim of toppling it.[2] Tehran insists that the accusations against it are meant to legitimize the Aal Khalifa regime's suppression of the Shi'ite uprising against it.[3]

It should be noted that the tension in Iran-Bahrain relations existed as early as 2007, sparked by a call by Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, for renewed Iranian sovereignty over Bahrain, and his description of Bahrain as an Iranian province. His reasoning was that Bahrain had been illegally separated from Iran by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in conjunction with Britain.[4] In 2009, Natek Nouri, a senior official in the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, likewise insisted that Bahrain is an Iranian province, provoking rage in the Gulf.[5]

In May 2013, the crisis between the two countries deepened after Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, warned the Bahraini government not to "overstep the red lines of Islam and of the Shi'ites, otherwise there might be an unexpected reaction." This warning came following reports that the home of 'Issa Qassem, a senior Shi'ite cleric and Khamenei's representative in Bahrain, had been attacked.[6] Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General 'Abd Al-Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani said in response that Abdollahian's statements were "dangerous threats" that contravened international law and constituted "a disgraceful interference in Bahrain's internal affairs." Bahrain's depury parliament speaker, 'Abdallah bin Khalaf Al-Dossari, said that these threats were further proof of Iranian interference in Bahrain's internal affairs, and called on the international community and that region to be aware of the depth of Iran's intervention in the affairs of Bahrain and of the region at large.[7]

It should be noted that Qassem is the representative in Bahrain of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and of prominent Iraqi Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Ostensibly he holds only religious office, but in practice he serves Iran as a central tool for spreading the message of the Islamic Revolution in Bahrain, especially through his Friday sermons. In a sermon on March 2011, one month after the eruption of the Shi’ite uprising in Bahrain, he said: "We will continue to demand our rights and political reform, whatever the circumstances... We will bow our heads to none but Allah."[8] His activity and ties with the Iranian leadership have aroused objection in Bahrain. For example, in October 2012, the Bahraini government rebuked the chargé d'affaires of the Iranian embassy in Manama for meeting with Qassem, and rejected as a lie the Iranian claim that the meeting had been held in response to a Bahraini request that Tehran mediate between the Bahraini regime and the Shi'ites in the country.[9]


'Issa Qassem delivering a sermon while wrapped in a shroud to signify his willingness to die as a martyr (image: Abna.ir)

An examination of statements by senior Iranian officials and actions by the Iranian regime on this issue shows that, while denying that it is interfering in Bahraini affairs, Iran is empathetically and enthusiastically supporting the Shi'ite protests there and encouraging the Shi'ites there to continue their opposition to the Bahraini regime. Iranian regime spokesmen openly call on the Shi'ites in Bahrain to topple the Aal Khalifa regime, and Iranian regime organizations are working inside and outside Iran to increase support for the Shi'ite protests there. In their speeches, Iranian spokesmen stress that the Aal Khalifa regime represents the rule of the Sunni minority over the Shi'ite majority in Bahrain, and that the Shi'ites are the true sons of the Bahraini homeland. They say that the Aal Khalifa regime is illegitimate, and that it serves foreign interests, inter alia because it is hosting the U.S.'s Fifth Fleet in its territory. They also claim that it has used chemical weapons against its citizens.

This report will examine four main arenas in which the Iranian regime is conducting activity against the Bahraini regime:

1) Friday sermons – the Iranian regime's main propaganda platform;

2) Conferences across Iran in solidarity with the protests in Bahrain – the brainchild of an organization subordinate to the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei;

3) Articles in the media predicting the imminent fall of the Aal Khalifa regime;

4) Providing platforms for Bahraini Shi'ite spokesmen who stress that Iran's Islamic Revolution is the inspiration for the Shi'ite protests in Bahrain.[10]

Friday Sermons: Iran Encourages The Bahraini Protestors – But Isn't Interfering In Bahraini Affairs

The gap between the claim of the Iranian regime that it is not interfering in the crisis in Bahrian and its encouragement of the protesters there to topple the regime, is particularly evident from Friday sermons in which Iranian spokesmen, cheif among them Khamenei, discussed the situation in Bahrain.

Khamenei: The Bahraini Nation Is The Most Oppressed Of All The Nations In The Region

In his February 3, 2012 Friday sermon in Tehran, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said: "The Bahraini nation is the most oppressed of all the nations [in the region], because, sadly, the global media is implementing a blackout on it. The Bahraini people's demands are just and cannot be doubted by any logic, yet [the Bahrainis] are nonetheless oppressed. [Their cause] has been removed from the broadcasting schedule, and a propaganda campaign is even being waged against them – [but] this will undoubtedly have no impact, [because] this nation will triumph, God willing...

"The Bahraini rulers claim that Iran is interfering in their country's internal affairs, but that is a lie. We are not interfering. Wherever we interfere, we say so explicitly. We interfere in issues against Israel, and the result was victory in the 2006 [Lebanon] war and in the 2009 [Gaza] war... Had we interfered in Bahrain, the situation there would be different."[11]

Friday Sermon In Tehran: Bahrain's Rulers Are "Foreign Agents" and "Servants Of Israel," And Are Facing Destruction

On February 22, 2013, during main Friday prayers in Tehran, preacher and Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani called Bahrain's rulers "foreign agents" and "servants of Israel," and expressed the hope that God would help the demonstrators in Bahrain to oust them: "The awakening of the opressed Bahraini people is [proof] of the tyranny of the regime that commits crimes, but the dear, oppressed Bahraini people is showing its resistance... [against] the weapons and the violence [directed against them] by the rulers [of Bahrain]. Today, not only the Islamic nation but all nations oppose the situation in Bahrain. They [the Aal Khalifa family] are foreign agents. They are servants and allies of Israel. But, by the grace of God... they are facing total destruction. "[12]

Friday Sermons In Tehran: The Bahraini Revolutionaries Will Soon Taste Independence And Freedom

On January 11, 2013, a Friday sermon in Terhran included the reading of a declaration of support on behalf of the Association for the Defense of the Oppressed Bahraini People, an organization which is subordinate to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's office (see below): "The Bahraini revolutionaries will not submit to the pressure [of the Aal Khalifa regime] and will never agree to humiliation, [because] they believe deeply in the divine promise of the triumph of truth over lies. In the two years since the [beginning of] the revolution, the Bahraini people has wisely thwarted the [Aal Khalifa regime's] plots, and every day it maintains its presence in the streets, with the aim of realizing its goals, even if more of its blood is spilled.

"If the Aal Khalifa regime wants to harm the revolution of the Bahraini people by giving citizenship to [Arab and Sunni] foreigners... it is mistaken, and will not stand on its feet for long, because the Bahraini people will [soon] taste independence and freedom."[13]


Demonstration in Isfahan, Iran, following Friday prayers, in solidarity with the Bahraini protestors (image: Imna.ir)

Khamenei Office Officials: Working To Institutionalize Support For Shi'ites In Bahrain And Organize Support Rallies

Leading up to February 14, 2013, the second anniversary of the onset of the Shi'ite uprising in Bahrain against the Sunni regime, the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly, which is subordinate to Khamenei's office, established The Society For the Defense of the Oppressed Bahraini People, and appointed the assembly's secretary-general, Khamanei advisor Ayatollah Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, to head it. In a statement issued on January 11, 2013, the society claimed that "the massacre of the oppressed innocent Bahraini people in the homeland of their fathers and their fathers' fathers by minority groups using American and British weapons and assisted by the money of Arabs who [purport to] call for unity among the nations of Islam – all these are the result of the silence vis-à-vis the oppression [of all these regimes]."[14]

Starting on February 14, 2013, the Society for the Defense of the Oppressed Bahraini People held support rallies in various Iranian cities including Qom, Tehran, Shiraz, Ardabil, Zahedan, Hamedan, Bushehr, Rasht, Ahvaz, Arak, and Yasuj that were dubbed "A Week of Sympathy for the Oppressed Bahraini People."[15] An official in the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly, Abdolreza Rashad, who is the secretary of the Society for the Defense of the Oppressed Bahraini People, said that during this "Week of Sympathy", the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly would also initiate support demonstrations and rallies throughout the world, but did not specify locations.[16] At the support rallies, which will be reviewed below, Iranian officials called on the protestors in Bahrain to continue their struggle until the toppling of the regime and promised them that their victory was near.


Logo for the Iranian "Week of Sympathy for the Oppressed Bahraini People” (image: Abna.ir)

Khamenei Office Official: We Pray For The Victory Of The Bahraini People, Which Will Be Achieved Soon

At a conference in Qom on February 15, Mohammad Hassan Akhtari, secretary-general of the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly and head of the Society for the Defense of the Oppressed Bahraini People, who is also Iran's former ambassador to Syria and is believed to have had a significant contribution to the founding of Hizbullah, said: "We pray at this conference for the families of the martyrs, the injured, and the prisoners in Bahraini prisons, and wish this movement success. We pray to God to save the innocent prisoners in Bahrain – men, women, elderly and children – and grant victory to the oppressed Bahraini people... We say to the criminal Aal Khalifa [regime] that the oppressed Bahraini people is not alone."[17]


Mohammad Hassan Akhtari at a support rally for Bahraini Shi'ites (image: Abna.ir)

At a conference held on March 16, 2013 in the city of Borujerd, which was attended by senior Iranian officials, Bahraini cleric 'Abdallah Al-Daqqaq - the head of the Al-Athar religious seminary in Qom, which is attended by Bahraini Shi'ite clerics in Qom – said: "Today the tyrannical and oppressive Aal Khalifa government is waning, and the criminal Al-Sa'ud government [in Saudi Arabia], whose forces are currently in Bahrain, has tasted defeat, shame and humiliation... According to God's promise this [Bahraini] nation will be victorious. The Bahraini people's movement during the past two years has been successful and God will soon realize its victory, as He promised... I never listen to the nonsense spouted by several Persian Gulf countries that claim that Iran interferes in Bahraini affairs because it is a big lie... One must ask, if interfering in the internal affairs of countries is bad, why do they themselves interfere in the affairs of other countries? Why do Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have a right to interfere in the internal affairs of countries? Why does France have the right to send its forces to Mali? If interference is not good, we must prevent it from these criminals."[18]

Khemenei Office Official: Next Year The Shi'ites Will Achieve Victory In Bahrain

In a conference in Qom on February 14, 2013, the cleric Mohsen Araki, secretary of the World Forum for Rapprochement among Islamic Schools of Thought, which is subordinate to Khamenei's office, encouraged Bahrainis to continue opposing their regime: "This [Bahraini] nation stands empty-handed but firm against a merciless enemy which is backed by all the great foreign powers and a regime that practices boundless oppression against the Bahraini nation... Today we mark the second anniversary of the establishment of this movement. We must be certain that next year will be the year of victory for the Bahraini nation... Shi'ites in Bahrain must believe that God supports them and that His promises are fulfilled. Shi'ites in Bahrain have thus far sacrificed many martyrs for the sake of their revolution and suffered many hardships, but it is even harder to abandon the path of resistance and perseverance. Perseverance and patience must continue; patience is the key to victory. Unity is a chief factor on the path to achieving victory and the Bahraini people must be certain that victory awaits them in a few steps, and I hope God will grant this people total victory."[19]


Bahraini flag raised during military exercise in Iran (image: Twitter.com/IRGCspy)

Khamenei Representative: Aal Khalifa Regime Used Chemical Weapons Against Civilians; The Al-Sa'ud Regime Will Be Buried And Cursed

At a conference in Qom on February 15, 2013, Ayatollah Dori Najafabadi, an official in the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly, who also serves as Khamenei's representative to the Central Province, said: "The Muslim people in Bahrain live in one big prison with very little means, while other countries [i.e. Saudi Arabia and Qatar] send forces to oppress it, but this people stands fast like a mountain. The Bahraini people has thus far sacrificed 102 martyrs for the sake of Islam, independence, freedom, and the struggle against the Al-Sa'ud [regime in Saudi Arabia] and the Aal Khalifa [regime in Bahrain], as well as England, the U.S. and Israel. These 102 martyrs were officially announced [by the regime]. Yesterday and today, two more martyrs were added, along with hundreds of dear people who were injured. The martyrs were poisoned by means of illegal gas and bullets from shotguns and other rifles... The Aal Khalifa regime does not use strong gasses so as to not lose its prestige, but these gasses have long-term medical and social implications.

"The Aal Khalifa regime grants citizenship to Al-Qaeda [operatives], Ba'thists and others in order to break the demographic balance and reduce the Shi'ites to less than half of the total population, thus achieving its goals... We must convey our sympathy to the Bahraini people so that they know they are not alone... The clerics, senior Ayatollahs and religious students in Iran should express disgust with Aal Khalifa's oppression and the support given to them by the Al-Sa'ud [royal family in Saudi Arabia]... who call themselves the custodians of the holy places. How do they allow themselves to commit these injustices? They should look to history – are they stronger than Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Reza Shah [Pahlavi], and Ataturk? These [leaders] were buried in the graveyard of history, and [the Saudi royal family] will be too, and receive nothing but curses... God is with the Bahraini people and his promise of victory is explicit."[20]

Khamenei Advisor: The Aal Khalifa Regime Will Be Destroyed

At a support rally for Bahrain held in Tehran University on February 20, 2013, Khemenei Advisor Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri addressed the Bahraini people and said: "If you were injured [in the protests] then your enemies were injured as well. You should know that history is dictated by God. Undoubtedly, He will punish the oppressors and the tyrants for their actions. Therefore, if you strengthen the spirit of your struggle against the infidel regime, you will undoubtedly win, and the arrogant Aal Khalifa regime will be destroyed forever...

"The Aal Khalifa regime lay the groundwork of corruption and placed the U.S. Fifth Fleet in its territory, which is the source of injustice in the entire region. The truth is that they [Bahrain's rulers] are very scared, and are in fact a paper tiger. If the nations [in the region] knew the weakness and fear of the infidel rulers, they would have cooperated more closely to destroy them...

Attacking prominent Sunni religious leaders for supporting the Sunni Bahraini regime, Taskhiri said: "Sheikh [Yousuf] Al-Qaradhawi [head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars], who supports all the revolutions, expressed a negative opinion of [the uprising in] Bahrain, and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, was also silent on Bahrain. They even boycotted the report by Mr. [Mahmoud Cherif] Bassiouni who arrived in Bahrain.[21] I believe this regime is marching towards collapse, and that the Bahraini people's mighty revolution will be victorious; this, because they believe in God, they have religious leadership, and they have performed all the preliminary actions [necessary] for their victory."[22]

Senior Majlis Member Congratulates Bahrain's Next Rulers – The Shi'ites

At the conference in Borujerd on March 16, 2013, Majlis National Security Committee head Alaa Al-Din Boroujerdi said: "From Borujerd I congratulate Sheikh 'Issa Qassem, who guides the Bahraini people; Ayatollah Gharifi, a prominent religious figure in Bahrain; and Sheikh 'Ali Salman, secretary-general of the [Shi'ite oppositionist] Al-Wefaq Party; as well as the tortured hero women and children, who with God's help will become the future rulers of this country. As Leader [Khamenei] said, the Bahraini people will undoubtedly win... The GCC countries have rallied all their might to use heavy arms against a country of 600 square kilometers with a population of one million people." Boroujerdi said that Bahrain's only sin is being Shi'ite, and added: "Just as Shah [Pahlavi] could not defeat the Iranian nation, the oppressive rulers of Bahrain will not defeat their people... The Bahraini people's endeavor is nothing short of divine victory; the Bahraini nation will undoubtedly win."[23]

Articles In Iranian Press Call To Topple The Aal Khalifa Regime

The IRGC weekly Sobh-e Sadeq claimed on February 18, 2013: "Two years after the Bahraini popular rebellion, it is clear that... the chief loser is the Aal Khalifa [family], who could not suppress the people despite all its steps and despite enjoying external support. The second loser is the GCC countries – chiefly Saudi Arabia – who wished to oppress the people by sending the Peninsula Shield Force, but they experienced a similar fate to that of Aal Khalifa, and according to published reports, they are attempting to withdraw from Bahrain while maintaining their dignity in order to mask the shame of their defeat to the Bahraini nation.

"Another loser in Bahrain is Western countries like the U.S. and Saudi Arabia [sic.], who spared no expense to support Aal Khalifa, but two years later had not achieved their goals, and now are finally acknowledging that the only way to prevent the collapse of the Bahraini regime is dialogue between Aal Khalifa and representatives of the [Shi’ite] Bahraini nation and the acceptance of [the latter's] demands... In conclusion, one can say that the Bahraini nation's uprising has managed to draw closer to its goals and demands. The developments indicate the continuation of this trend, despite the fact that Aal Khalifa continues to oppress the people in various ways."[24]

The daily Jomhouri-ye Eslami, a central mouthpiece close to the religious seminaries in Qom, played a central role in encouraging the Bahrainis to topple the Aal Khalifa regime. A February 21article stated: "The widespread presence of the Bahraini people in street protests two years after [the outbreak of the uprising] shows that the Bahraini nation does not intent to stop its struggle and is determined to continue it until it attains its rights and topples the regime of usurpation, oppression and discrimination. The resistance, determination and steadfast position of the Bahraini nation weaken the ruling base of the Aal Khalifa regime day by day, and according to reports, intelligence circles in the U.S. and England have also lost hope that the Aal Khalifa regime will survive and admit that its fall is certain."[25]

Another February 21, 2013 article stated: "The dear Bahraini people carries the torch of liberty, and the brave Bahraini men and women, bearers of the message of light and radiance, are now writing the glorious and eternal history of Bahrain with their self-sacrifice. They will show the world once again that the blood defeats the sword. The Aal Khalifa [regime] has no option other than to fall, and it is now immersed in its crimes, and every crime it commits adds another page to its criminal dossier. The Bahraini people will undoubtedly win."[26]

An April 18, 2013 article stated: "The anti-regime protests, which are taking place despite the severe security atmosphere and despite the Saudi soldiers who support [the regime], show the mighty determination of the Bahraini nation to achieve the ends of its revolution... There is no doubt that the Bahraini nation's revolution will be victorious and will send the regime to the trash bin of history."[27]

An April 21, 2013 article in Jomhouri-ye Eslami said: "In recent years, the Bahraini regime attempted to win international legitimacy and support by holding several Formula 1 races [in the country]. However, the Bahraini people understood the regime's intentions and demanded to cancel these races in Bahrain with tempestuous street protests, while chanting slogans regarding the tyranny of the Aal Khalifa regime. Holding Formula 1 races in Bahrain was meant to mask the crisis in the country, which has failed to extinguish the internal protest, and to present a false picture of improving human rights in the country... The refusal of the Aal Khalifa [regime] to grant the nation its basic right brought about [a situation] wherein the Bahraini people will not settle for less than the toppling of Aal Khalifa. Despite the fact that regional revolutions and popular uprisings could have served as a lesson to the Aal Khalifa regime to involve the people in the [centers] of power, ignorance and stubbornness are preventing the dictatorial rulers from reaching a thoughtful solution."[28]

On May 20, 2013, Jomhouri-ye Eslami harshly condemned the attack several days earlier on the house of prominent Shi'ite cleric 'Issa Qassem, whom it called "a great religious-revolutionary emblem and a champion of the people's demands." The daily claimed that the attack had been carried out by Bahraini regime forces, and that it was "a reckless, unconsidered and insane" act that "paves the way for a quicker collapse of the Aal Khalifa regime." The daily added that this regime had "overstepped all the red lines" and that the Bahraini people should therefore shift to violent protest.[29]

Bahraini Clerics In Ceremonies In Iran: Victory Is At Hand

As part of the widespread campaign against the Aal Khalifa regime, Tehran provided a platform for Bahraini Shi'ite clerics and oppositionists at conferences in support of Bahraini protestors. They also put the regime's central pulpit – Tehran's central Friday sermon – at their disposal. The Bahraini speakers accused the minority Sunni Aal Khalifa regime of acting against the Shi'ite majority in the country by nationalizing Sunnis from other countries. They also stressed that the Aal Khalifa clan is a foreign minority in Bahrain, and that the protestors will continue their struggle until victory with the inspiration they draw from Iranian leaders Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei.

Bahraini Cleric In Friday Sermon In Tehran: Khomeini Is In The Hearts Of The Bahraini People

At the central Friday sermon in Tehran on February 22, 2013, Bahraini Sheikh 'Ali Ahmad Al-Karbabadi praised Iran for its support for the Bahraini protest and said that this protest draws on the ideology of the founder of the Iranian regime, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: "The Iranian nation's aid to the world's Muslims and oppressed is praiseworthy... The revolution in Iran has supported all oppressed revolutionaries in the world, including the people of Myanmar and Bahrain... The Aal Khalifa [regime] has committed many crimes in Bahrain... Every time the Aal Khalifa [regime] reaches a dead end, it brings up the issue of dialogue. [However,] when the invaders and occupiers of Al-Sa'ud [the Saudi royal family] entered Bahrain, their [Saudi] officials said explicitly: 'We will not leave the Shi'ites room in Bahrain.' And today, the same Al-Sa'ud regime supports and calls for dialogue, which, of course, is nothing but deception...

"The Bahraini nation began rebelling under the clerics led by Sheikh 'Issa Qassem [the representative in Bahrain of Iranian Supreme Leader 'Ali Khamenei and of Iraqi Ayatollah 'Ali Sistani], and will continue rebelling. Our revolution is not influenced by the ones in Tunisia and Egypt, but rather draws from the ideology led by the clerics.

"The Bahraini people rose up, inspired by the Islamic culture drawn from the clerics – the culture of Imam Khomeini's revolution. The Imam [Khomeini] lies in the hearts of all Bahraini people and we see him as one of our own... Is the Muslim Bahraini people not a servant of God, and therefore deserves the support of others?"[30]

Bahraini Cleric: The Aal Khalifa Family Rose To Power By Deception

On February 15, 2013, at a conference in Qom marking two years after the start of the Bahraini uprising, Bahraini cleric 'Abdallah Al-Daqqaq – the head of the Al-Athar religious seminary in Qom – said: "Until the 13th century, the people of Bahrain were Shi'ites. When the Sunni Aal Khalifa family rose to power, they began oppressing Shi'ites and transferring Sunnis from other countries to Bahrain and giving them Bahraini citizenships in order to change the demography of the country... [In the two years since the start of the protests, Aal Khalifa] granted citizenship to 300,000 enemies of the Shi'a in order to double the Sunni population in Bahrain...The Aal Khalifa regime rose to power by deception, but the Bahraini people carries out peaceful protests and maintains Shi'ite-Sunni unity... The Bahraini people will continue to protest nonviolently until its legal demands are met... All signs indicate that the victory of the Bahraini nation is at hand."[31]

Shi'ite Bahraini Politician: We Draw Inspiration From Khomeini and Khamenei

In a speech to students in Tehran on February 17, 2013, Rashed Al-Rashed – a member of the central committee of the Al-'Amal Al-Islami party in Bahrain, whom the Ahl Al-Bayt World Assembly website describes as one of the leaders of the protests in Bahrain, said: "Throughout the last two years, the Bahraini youth put the struggle, the passion and the honorable spirit of you Iranian youth at the head of their revolutionary struggle... The Bahraini nation is guided by the instructions of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini, and is continuing its struggle to achieve freedom despite the war crimes against it... Our youth learned from you the meaning of honor and freedom and they are fully motivated in battling the dictatorial regimes in the region. The problems in the world and the region stem from the plots of the U.S., England and their other allies. But we attempt to continue our protest and revolution to achieve full independence, while drawing inspiration from Khamenei's statements and learning the path of struggle and shahada.[32]

* A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI's Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[2] Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmad Aal Khalifa said, "Iran's interference in Bahrain's internal affairs is carried out by means of statements by top Iranian officials and media circles who directly influence several political circles in Bahrain." Tasnimnews.com, April 11, 2013. In addition, in late December 2012, GCC member states accused Iran of encouraging the Shi'ite unrest in Bahrain and called on it to stop interfering in this country's affairs. Aljazirah.com, December 26, 2012.

[3] Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam, an advisor to Majlis Chairman Ali Larijani, said that the claim of Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin 'Abdallah Aal Khalifa – that the Bahraini authorities had arrested a Shi'ite terrorist cell that had been trained by the IRGC and Hizbullah and had planned to hit American targets in Bahrain, including the U.S. Fifth Fleet base – was a lie aimed at enabling Manama to continue suppressing the intifada of the Bahraini people. Alalam.ir, March 6, 2013, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 4, 2013.

[5] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2256, Leading Saudi Daily: Iran Was Once a Sunni Country, March 19, 2009.

[6] Fars (Iran), May 18, 2013.

[7] Gitm.kcorp.net, May 20, 2013.

[9] Mardomak.org, October 16, 2013.

[10] In a meeting in Tehran, the head of the religious seminaries in Qom, Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi, told the head of the Council of Shi'ite Clerics in Bahrain, Majid Al-Mash'al: "The leaders of the revolution in Bahrain must not be discouraged by the length and the difficulty of the road [they must travel], for the path they have chosen is a divine one." Kayhan (Iran), May 6, 2013.

[11] Leader.ir, February 3, 2013.

[12] Fars (Iran), February 22, 2013.

[13] Iribnews.ir, January 11, 2013.

[14] Mehr (Iran), January 11, 2013.

[15] Abna.ir, February 21, 2013.

[16] Abna.ir, February 11, 2013.

[17] Abna.ir, February 15, 2013. On Akhtari's past, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 448, The Iranian Roots of Hizbullah

June 23, 2008.

[18] Yjc.ir, March 16, 2013.

[19] Abna.ir, February 14, 2013.

[20] Abna.ir, February 15, 2013.

[21] Bassiouni, an international expert on war crimes, was appointed by the Bahraini king to head The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the events of February-June, 2011.

[22] Abna.ir, February 20, 2013.

[23] Yjc.ir, March 16, 2013. At the conference, Hossein Sheikh Al-Islam said: "The global arrogance [i.e., the West headed by the U.S.] fears a religious democratic rule and wishes to defeat it... The Islamic revolution of the Bahraini nation needs support and backing from the nations of Muslims, and Islamic Iran is always a pioneer in this field." ISNA (Iran), March 17, 2013.

[24] Sobh-e Sadeq (Iran), February 18, 2013.

[25] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), February 21, 2013.

[26] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), February 21, 2013.

[27] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), April 18, 2013.

[28] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), April 21, 2013.

[29] Jomhouri-ye Eslami (Iran), May 20, 2013.

[30] Fars (Iran), February 22, 2013.

[31] Abna.ir, February 15, 2013.

[32] Abna.ir, February 17, 2013. In a meeting with Rashed Al-Rashed on February 6, 2013 in the city of Varamin near Tehran, Khamenei's representative in the city, Ayatollah Morteza Mahmoudi Golpayegani, called on Bahraini protestors to continue their struggle until victory and expressed confidence that they would achieve it. Fars (Iran), February 6, 2013.

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