Drop of Iranian claim

Iran's parliament passed a bill in November 1957 declaring Bahrain to be the 14th province of Iran,[48] with two empty seats allocated for its representatives. This action caused numerous problems for Iran in its international relations, especially with some United Nations bodies, Britain, Saudi Arabia, and a number of Arab countries.[citation needed]

At this time, Britain set out to change the demographics of Bahrain. The policy of “deiranisation” consisted of importing a large number of different Arabs and others from British colonies as labourers.[49]

Demonstrations in 1956 forced the Al Khalifa rulers to leave Manama (the capital) for the village of Refae Al Gharbi where only Sunni Arabs serving as their bodyguards were allowed to live.[citation needed]

In 1965 Britain began dialogue with Iran to determine their borders in the Persian Gulf. Before long extensive differences over borders and territory came to light, including the dispute over the dominion of Bahrain. The two were not able to determine the maritime borders between the northern and southern countries of the Persian Gulf. At the same time King Faisal of Saudi Arabia arrived in Iran on a visit which included the creation of Islamic Conference and the decision to determine the maritime borders of the two countries. In return, the Shah of Iran agreed to visit Saudi Arabia in 1967. A week before this visit, the Saudis received Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the that time Ruler of Bahrain as a head of state in the Saudi capital Riyadh. As a result the Shah's visit was cancelled, seriously damaging relations between the two countries. Following mediation by King Hassan II of Morocco the relationship was repaired.[citation needed]

Eventually Iran and Britain agreed to put the matter of Dominion of Bahrain to international judgment and requested the United Nations General Secretary take on this responsibility.[citation needed]

Iran pressed hard for a referendum in Bahrain in the face of strong opposition from both the British and the Bahraini leaders.[49] Their opposition was based on Al Khalifa's view that such a move would negate 150 years of their clan's rule in the country. In the end, as an alternative to the referendum, Iran and Britain agreed to request the United Nations conduct an opinion poll in Bahrain that would determine the political future of the territory. In reply to letters from the British and Iranians, U Thant, then Secretary General of the United Nations, declared that an opinion poll would take place on 30 March 1970. Vittorio Winspeare-Giucciardi, Manager of the United Nations office in Geneva was put in charge of the project. Report no. 9772 was submitted to the UN General Secretary and on 11 May 1970, the United Nations Security Council endorsed Winspeare's conclusion that an overwhelming majority of the people wished recognition of Bahrain's identity as a fully independent and sovereign state free to decide its own relations with other states.[50] Both Britain and Iran accepted the report and brought their dispute to a close.[citation needed]

The oil boom of the 1970s benefited Bahrain greatly, although the subsequent downturn hurt the economy. The country had already begun diversification of its economy and benefited further from the 1970s Lebanese Civil War, when Bahrain replaced Beirut as the Middle East's financial hub after Lebanon's large banking sector was driven out of the country by the war.[51] Following the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, in 1981 Bahraini Shī'a fundamentalists orchestrated a failed coup attempt under the auspices of a front organisation, the Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain. The coup would have installed a Shī'a cleric exiled in Iran, Hujjatu l-Islām Hādī al-Mudarrisī, as supreme leader heading a theocratic government.[52] In 1994, a wave of rioting by disaffected Shīa Islamists was sparked by women's participation in a sporting event.[citation needed]

During the mid-1990s, Bahrain was badly affected by sporadic violence between the government and the cleric-led opposition in which over forty people were killed.[53] In March 1999, Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah succeeded his father as Emir (head of state) and instituted elections for parliament, gave women the right to vote, and released all political prisoners. These moves were described by Amnesty International as representing an "historic period of human rights".[54] As part of the adoption of the National Action Charter on 14 February 2002, Bahrain changed its formal name from the State (dawla) of Bahrain to the Kingdom of Bahrain.[55]