Doc “The Fourteenth Province” studies separation of Bahrain from Iran

January 11, 2021 - 18:18

TEHRAN – Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Karimian has made a documentary named “The Fourteenth Province”, which studies the separation of Bahrain from Iran in 1971.

The film won the Golden Lantern for best documentary during the 11th Ammar Popular Film Festival, which is organized every year by a number of Iranian revolutionary figures.

Speaking to the Persian service of MNA on Monday, Karimian said that he started research for the documentary in 2018.

“The research was really profound so that it could even be turned into a book,” he said.

To make the documentary, Karimian began searching for those officials who were involved in or had directly witnessed the process of the separation. The documentary also studies the role of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran’s last monarch, in this issue. 

“The separation of Bahrain is a disputable issue,” Karimian said and added, “Some people considered it a black mark and others said that Iran had no other choice, and this bipolar attitude made the job difficult for us.”

He said that he chose a middle way to make his documentary and stated, “History is full of positive and negative issues, but in ‘The Fourteenth Province’, we tried to give a neutral account of an unpleasant historical event to prevent the likelihood of errors arising in the future.”

He lamented that the Iranian people do not have much knowledge about this issue and other historical events and added, “We tried to prepare first-hand accounts and documents to raise the awareness of the issue.”

The decline of Iran’s Qajar dynasty, followed by a consequent politico-military crisis during the Pahlavi era, is associated with the firm establishment of British hegemony in the Persian Gulf with a view to guaranteeing India’s security. 

At the same time, the discovery of oil and its importance to Britain’s military and global economic empire doubled Britain’s resolve to dominate the southern edge of the Persian Gulf. 

Hence, Bahrain’s role in Britain’s economic, political and military diplomacy in the region convinced the colonial power to employ tactics to gradually separate Bahrain from Iran, which saw its efforts to retain territorial integrity were in vain.

On November 12, 1957, Iran decided to officially integrate Bahrain as the fourteenth Iranian province in the administrative divisions of the country, drawing strong protests from Britain and the League of Arab States.

The Shah softened his attitude toward Bahrain, and suggested that the indigenous population should voice freely its wishes through a United Nations supervised referendum. This suggestion was rejected, drawing a strong threat from the Shah on September 9, 1969, who declared that Iran would not recognize Bahrain as an independent state, and if it was admitted to the United Nations Iran would leave that organization.

Complications associated with the British-sponsored federation of Persian Gulf emirates encouraged both Iran and Bahrain to contemplate the emergence of an independent state and Manama declared its independence on August 14, 1971.

Photo: A poster for Mohsen Karimian’s documentary “The Fourteenth Province”.


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