Persians Sought an Alliance with Habsburg Dynasty.
To Put the Arab East in Tough Situation
The history of international relations has never recorded that the Safavids allied with the Muslims against the Crusader West. No traces were spotted in the books that may refer to the Islamic nature of the Safavid regime in Iran, while there are hundreds of evidences that show that Iran was at the heart of the strategies that wanted to subjugate the Arabs, Islam and Muslims are for imperial agendas that Iran has striven to implement, even at the expense of some of its strategic interests.
Perhaps the first signs in the era of the Safavid state was that they searched for an objective ally that might help them in any anticipated confrontation with the East, thus putting the Arab region in a tough situation between Persian and Crusader pincers. It seems that the Persian ambitions towards the East and the loyalty of Qizilbash to the Safavid Shah have formed firewood for the clash, which would only succeed with their alliance with the Crusader West.
In this context, Venice was the first European power to draw the attention of Shah Ismail the Safavi to ally therewith; as its fleet was one of the strongest in the Mediterranean. Nevertheless, the war that the Venetians led against Pope Julius II, in addition to the peace treaty that had bound them with the Ottomans since 1502, made them apologize for answering the Persians’ request.
Those familiar with the history of Persian diplomatic relations and the nature of their behavioral structure know that Iran (mostly) avoids direct confrontations, whether with Arabs, Muslims or others, and, therefore, resorts to objective (and sometimes hybrid) alliances in order to network confrontation with Arabs and Muslims, thus ensuring political, diplomatic and military supremacy. They also work to disperse confrontation fronts with the “existential Arab enemy”, in a strategy that yielded in important results that made the Persians consider it a constant direction in their strategic planning.
Iran believed that there would be no way for it to penetrate the Arab world except through Western alliance.
The Persians strived to coordinate with states that bear strong hostility against Muslim East and did not stop at this point, but sent messengers to stress the necessity of uniting the Christian ranks. Shah Ismail Al-Safavi expressed his “surprise that the Christian kings of Europe are fighting a war among themselves instead of uniting”.
Therefore, the Persians and Habsburgs agreed on an alliance against their common enemy, yet the procedures for this alliance were not completed, especially after the death of Ismail Pasha Safavi in (1524). However, the Habsburgs returned to correspondence with the Persians in the hope of an alliance against the East, which was approved by Shah Tahmasb. However, poor coordination between the two parties thwarted that alliance.
It should be noted that the Persians were aware of the possibility of agitating the public through their alliance with the “infidel” Crusader West, so, as usual, they took the initiative to try to legitimize this alliance by resorting to one of their religious references, with the aim of finding the religious basis for that politically hybrid alliance, which is rejected both religiously and morally. It seems that the Persians found their target in Ali al-Karkari al-Amili, who issued a legal fatwa establishing that alliance.
The Persian hatred of everything that is Arab and Islamic made them draw the West into their vital surroundings, and this is what happened with Portugal, which for decades controlled the Strait of Hormuz and areas in the Arabian Peninsula. Perhaps the relative success of the Safavid-Portuguese alliance broke down after the Persians lost several battles in the east and the Portuguese withdrawal from the Arabian Gulf after they faced fierce resistance in Oman.
- Basem Hamza Abbas, Iran During the Reign of Shah Tahmasp I Safavid 1524 – 1576”, Al-Khaleej Al-Arabi Magazine, Volume (40), Issues 1 and 2 (2012).
- Khaled Al-Shintout, Safavid Threat to the Levant, a book published on the Khaled Al-Shintout’s website (2013).
- Samir Abdel-Razzaq Abdullah, Safavid-European Alliance Attempts Against Ottoman Empire 1508-1530, Ain Shams Literature periodicals, Volume 45, Yazilis-September (2017) issue.
- Salah Al-Mukhtar, Conflict of National Identities (London: Books, 2020).
- Abdel Aziz Nawar, History of the Islamic Peoples in Modern Era (Cairo: Arab Renaissance House, 1998).