Bahrainis protesting against Iran's call for their island to become an Iranian province chanted slogans calling for the "liberation of Ahwaz" from Iranian occupation.
Protests erupted after Hussain Shariatmadari, an aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed that Bahrainis wanted the "reunification" of Bahrain with its "motherland", Iran. Writing in an Iranian newspaper, Shariatmadari also alleged that Bahrain was separated from Iran on the basis of an agreement signed by the former Shah and the US and British governments.
Bahraini protestors stated that Bahrain has always been Arab. They also accused Iran of illegal occupation of Ahwazi Arab land. Bahrain's Shura Council has also condemned Shariatmadari's comments.
The controversial statements by the presidential aide come weeks after former Iranian Consul General in to Dubai, Adel Assadinia, revealed that the regime had set up sleeper cells in Arab countries in the Gulf. Although Dubai is the principal base of Iranian intelligence operations in the Gulf, Iran has recruited extremists within the Bahraini Shi'ite population. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said: "The Iranian government believes that to survive it needs permanent bases throughout the Middle East. Anybody who contemplates threatening or invading Iran will have those cells unleashed against them."