Iranian Revolution and the Gulf States Term Paper


Iranian Revolution took place in the year 1979. It was a revolution which was aimed at eliminating the monarchy that had been in rule for a long period. Several countries have carried out revolutions in the past. Revolutions in most countries usually result from political reasons in a country.

The Iranian Revolution was one of the few that have been successful in the past. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was very famous. This is because it saw the overthrowing of the Iran monarchy that was in power and replaced it with the Islamic republic. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was the leader of the monarch.

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On the other hand, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was the leader of Islam. Also, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the revolution. The revolution had an impact on the Arabian States and their relationship with Iran due to the links that they had even before (Molavi, n. d.).

Scope of the Research

The Iranian Revolution became one of the most famous revolutions in the world because it was successful. Most of the previous revolutions that took place failed. The impacts of most of these revolutions were slowing down the economic growth and eruption of war within the country.

The Iranian Revolution had some impacts, especially on the Persian states. Iran had good relations with Persian states especially in economic terms due to their commonality in oil production. Iran shipped its oil through the Gulf States. After the revolution, these relations changed.

It led to the eruption of security tensions between the nations. The main scope of this paper is to discuss how the Iranian Revolution changed the security and the religious relationship of the Persian states with Iran (Kamrava, 2011).

Effects of the Iranian revolution on the religious relationship between Iran and the Gulf states

Khomeini is a key figure, who led the revolution of Iran in the year 1979. At the time, there was so much involvement of American Imperialism in the Gulf States. There have been two religious groups that have been conflicting since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Khomeini, who was the leader of the revolution, was a member of the Shiite Islam religion.

The Gulf States and most notably Saudi Arabia believed in the Sunni Islamic religion. Religion is an important factor in the analysis of the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It plays a key role in the policies of Iran towards Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Arabians have very strong religious believes. The residents of Saudi are predominantly Islam.

The revolution that took place in Iran increased the involvement of Iran in Saudi Arabia. Iran was criticizing the Saudi Arabian relationship with the US. This would weaken the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which was Islamic based. Therefore, the religious relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia was largely affected after the Iranian revolution.

It became weakened and became increased the tensions (Cordesman, Alsis & Allison, 2011). Khomeini, the Shiite believer and the leader of Iran, openly and publicly opposed the Sunni Islam religion that was dominant in Saudi Arabia. This varied beliefs and the open criticism of the Saudi religion by Khomeini created tensions between the two religions.

The tension has been live until recent times. There has been so much suspicion and uncertainty between Iran and Saudi Arabia as a result of their different religious beliefs. The tensions came after the Iranian Revolution. This was a period when Khomeini was crowned as a leader of Iran. He openly criticized the legitimacy of religion by the Saudi Arabians (Fürtig, 2002).

The tension achieved a new front when the Sunni of Saudi Arabia attempted to bring down the al Hussein shrine. Al Hussein was one of the most prominent leaders of the Shiite religion. Attempts by the Sunni to bring down that shrine are said to be the source of the modern of tensions. The tensions continued till the death of Khomeini in the year 1989 and even after his death.

There have always been tensions between the two nations over the religious issues that started as a result of the Iranian revolution. It is the same religious conflicts that partly contributed to the start of the war between Iran and Iraq (Wagner, 2010). In Kuwait and Dubai, most people are of the Sunni Islamic religion.

However, there are so many Iranians who live in this country. Some of the Iranians who live in these countries are believers of the Shiite Islamic religion. When the revolution in Iran took place, and the Shiite took over the rule, Khomeini was determined to make Islamic rule strong overseas.

As a result, the governments of Kuwait and Dubai became concerned that the Iranians in their country would incite a similar revolution like the one that took place in Iran. This raised religious tensions in these countries too. There were speculations that there were Shiite militants in the countries who had been organized by Khomeini. This caused tension among the two opposing religious groups in these Gulf States (Phillips 1979).

In Bahrain, the Iranian Revolution was welcomed by the officials of the Shiite religion. They supported the victory of the Iranian Revolution. Bahrain is an Islamic country in which most people are of the Shiite religion. Most of these Shiites are Iranians. The Shiites in Bahrain were too poor, and they did not have a say in government institutions of the country.

After the Iranian Revolution and the victory the revolution achieved, the Shiites in Bahrain thought that it was a remarkable achievement and that they also needed equal representation in the government. The Bahrain government leaders were and were in support of the Iraqi government during the Iran-Iraq war.

The Shiite in Bahrain started holding demonstrations after the Iranian revolution. The demonstrations were inspired by the religious relations between Iran and the Bahrain Shiite. This led to high tensions in Bahrain between the Sunni and Shiite. Bahrain divided into two groups.

One group supported the Iranian Revolution and wanted to have a similar revolution in their country. The other group supported the existing Bahrain government but wanted reforms to improve their positions in the government. The leader of the Shiite was Ayatollah Saddik Ruhani (Louër, 2008).

The security relationship between the Arabian Gulf and Iran post-Iran Revolution

As it has been stated earlier, the Iranian Revolution was a revolution that was aimed to replace the Shah monarch and was led by Khomeini who was a Shiite believer. There were various security concerns between some of the Gulf States and Iran that now became an Islamic republic after the revolution.

They led to the emergence of the war between Iran and Iraq. The most notable security concern between the two regions after the Iranian revolution was the war that erupted between Iraq and Iran (Kechichian, 2001). However, there were other security issues that will be discussed in this section of the paper.

When Khomeini succeeded in leading one of the revolutions that turned out to be famous in the world, overthrowing the Shah Monarch and replacing it with the Islamic republic rule, he declared that he had intentions to overthrow the monarchs in the Gulf States. He also staged an attack on all the U.S. territories and facilities in the Gulf States. Khomeini was particularly negative towards the western countries and particularly the U.S.

When he took over power in Iran there was an increased tension among the Muslims all over the world as well as in America (Nosotro, 2003). The Islamic rule in the wake of Khomeini leadership post-Iran Revolution started to take center stage across Middle East countries. The effects could be felt outside the region, as well as the whole world.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who was a Sunni launched an attack on Iran. This led to the Iraqi – Iran war in the year 1980. It later turned out to be the Gulf war and was definitive of the security relations that Iran and the Gulf states were to have through the years of the 1980s.

Iraq attack on Iran influenced the other Gulf States to join in support of Iraq. Saudi Arabia particularly splashed out billions of dollars to back up Iraq in the attack. It even increased the oil production to sustain itself in funding the attack. Apart from increasing the funds to support the attack on Iran, Saudi Arabia also increased the oil production to weaken the Iranian capability of funding its troops and attacks to counter the Iraqis attack (Nosotro, 2003).

Before the revolution, there was a fall out between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. However, Iran was seen as a threat to Saudi Arabia more than Iraq since it was going to threaten the survival of Saudi Arabia in the Gulf region. Other Arabian Gulf states joined to support Iraq. Some countries, which joined include Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

Security relations in the Persian Gulf region and Iran continued to fall out. This is because Iran sent aircraft across the Gulf to pose threats to any country that provided any form of support to Iraq. The involvement of the other Gulf countries increased when Iran attacked the oil tankers of the Gulf nations. Iraq was the one who first attacked the oil export terminal.

In counter to the attack that Iraq made on the Iran oil export terminal, Iran attacked the oil tankers of the Gulf nations. This angered those nations that included Saudi Arabia and Kuwait among others. These attacks further weakened the security relations between the Persian Gulf States and Iran since all the Gulf States directed their attack on Iran.

The U.S. also got involved in the war whereby it supported Kuwait in the attack of Iran tankers (January 2008). Another incident that increased security tensions in the Gulf region was the Hajj Incident that took place in the year 1987.

The incident that took place outside the Grand Mosque in Mecca took away the lives of about 400 pilgrims. Two-thirds of the pilgrims were Iranians. It was a clash between demonstrators and the Saudi Arabian law agencies. As a result of that incident, Saudi Arabia put regulations on the activities that normally take place at the pilgrimage.

This further indicated the poor security relationship between Iran and the Gulf States. The aftermath of the incident was the revenge of Iran by attacking the Saudi diplomats (Moaddel, 1993).


Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is the individual who was on the forefront during the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He led to the replacement of the Monarch that was led by Shah. The revolution marked the start of the shift in the relationship between Iran and the Gulf States.

Many authors have done numerous researches and have written articles regarding the Iranian Revolution. Most of these writers have mostly concentrated their work on the Gulf war. There are also various authors who have written on the relationship between Iran and America after the revolution. This paper has gone a step further to address the religious relations of Iran and the Gulf states after the revolution.

This revolution is one of the main aspects that led to the emergence of the Gulf war (Naghshpour, 2011). The paper has also addressed several security concerns, which have previously been overlooked by most writers. It has given an overview of the Hajj Incident that took place at Mecca in the year 1987.

It is an incident that worsened the already delicate security between Iran and the Gulf States. Also, when the Sunni attempted to destroy the al-Hussein shrine, this worsened the security tensions. The tensions were eased at some point in the year 1988 when Iran accepted the UN resolution, but it erupted again in 1990.


The breakdown of security and region relations between Iran and the Gulf states had several implications on the involved nations. The revolution led to the attack of Iran by Iraq. This is after Iraq suspected that the same revolution could happen in their country. It raised the tension between two Islamic religious versions, the Shiite and the Sunni, which was the main causes of the fear developed by the Iraq President Saddam Hussein.

It is this attack by Iraq on Iran that led to the emergence of the gulf war. Gulf nations backed Iraq to attack Iran, and they provided financial support to Iraq to enable the attack. These attacks had some impact on the economy of the nations since there were several attacks on the oil tankers which meant losses. The price of oil also went down during those years further slowing down the economy of the nations.


The Iranian Revolution of 1979 marked a turning point in the relationship between the Gulf States and Iran. Most Arabian Gulf states turned against the Islamic rule that came to being after the overthrow of Shah Monarch rule. The events led to the emergence of the Gulf war in which the United States also intervened at some point.

In their intervention, America supported the Gulf States due to the fear that the development of the Islamic rule will increase the chances of terrorist attacks on them. The tensions continued for up to a decade. There were several other security concerns which occurred in between the war period, for instance, the Hajj Incident that took place in Mecca among other incidents.


Cordesman, A. H., Alsis, P. & Allison, M. (2011). US and Iranian Strategic Competition in the Gulf States and Yemen. Web.

Fürtig, H. (2002). Iran’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia between the Gulf wars. Reading: Ithaca Press.

January, B. (2008). The Iranian Revolution. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.

Kamrava, M. (2011). The international politics of the Persian Gulf. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse University Press.

Kechichian, J. A. (2001). Iran, Iraq and the Arab Gulf States. New York, NY, u.a.: Palgrave.

Louër, L. (2008). Transnational Shia politics: Religious and political networks in the Gulf. New York: Columbia University Press.

Moaddel, M. (1993). Class, politics, and ideology in the Iranian revolution. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

Molavi, A. (n. d.). . The Iran Primer. Web.

Naghshpour, S. (2011). Revolutionary Iran and the United States: Low-intensity conflict in the Persian Gulf. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgaate Pub. Co.

Nosotro, R. (2003). Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: 1900-1989 Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary. Web.

Phillips, J. (1979). . Web.

Wagner, H. L. (2010). The Iranian Revolution. New York: Chelsea House.

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