Safavid State

Story of Struggle on the Way of Betrayal

Since the beginning of the sixteenth century AD, the colonial and expansionist ambition and aspirations of Shah Ismail Al-Safavi began in the Arab region. These aspirations racist and sectarian against the Arabs and others who were not adopting his belief. To achieve that ambition, he went to search for strong allies to back him against his enemies. Venice was the first European force to which the Safavid Shah sends his embassy, in 1508, to ally therewith against the Arab East because if its fleet that was one of the strongest naval fleets in the Mediterranean. However, Venice apologized for that alliance because they were busy in a war with the Pope of the Vatican thence.

Shah Ismail al-Safavi also sought to search for another European ally; i.e., another European colonial power represented by the Portuguese, according to historical documents, which are deemed an important source in writing history, and even inspiring for researchers to extrapolate history, clarify facts and put things in their realistic historical context. For example, Portuguese documents revealed to us the alliance that took place between Ismail al-Safavi and the Portuguese viceroy in India, Alfonso Albuquerque, against our Arab region. That plan aimed for the Safavid Shah to keep the Mamluk sultan in Egypt busy so that Albuquerque could penetrate the Red Sea, seize Jeddah and reach Suez in Egypt. Thus, Al- Safavi threatened to invade Aleppo and the Levant, while Albuquerque was present with his military fleet in the Red Sea in the year (1513), which caused confusion for the Mamluk Sultan.

Thereafter, Shah Ismail Al-Safavi developed a plan to entrap the Mamluks and the Ottomans, and worked on the departure of Sultan Al-Ghuri from Egypt to reconcile the gap between him and the Ottomans. Hence, Sultan Al-Ghuri left Egypt without being actually ready to fight. In this regard, Egyptian historian Ibn Zunbal said: “Many of Al-Ghuri soldiers did not believe that they went out to fight, but rather to make peace. However, the situation developed until both parties fought against, ending with the great defeat of the Mamluks in the Battle of Marj Dabiq in the year (1516). The plan was for Shah Ismail and Albuquerik to share the Arabian Gulf with its islands, provided that the Shah would seize both sides of the Arabian Gulf in return for allowing the Portuguese to establish Portuguese forts and commercial centers on both sides thereof. However, it was the will of Allah that Shah Ismail was defeated in the same year and his kingdom and power were diminished.

Perhaps it was of the appreciation that the Shah received from the Portuguese commander Albuquerque and his envoy, Ruy Gamez, to Shah Ismail the Safavi, that he carried him a letter in which he mentioned to the Shah: “I appreciate your respect for the Christians in your country and I offer you the fleet, soldiers, and weapons to use against the fortresses of the Turks. If you wish to swoop into Arabia or attack Mecca, you would find me next to you in the Red Sea in front of Jeddah or in Aden or Al-Qatif”, in addition to some instructions to Gomez, in which he said: “The first goal of your trip, regardless of the way and how you can accomplish it, is to go directly to Shah Ismail, and upon your arrival you will give him the reverence and esteem befitting a king so great.”

In fact, Portuguese documents indicated the extent of the secret work and conspiracy of Shah Ismail with the West. Iran is still following in his footsteps to the present day. A Portuguese document indicated that Albuquerque had been sent to the kings of Europe at that time urging them to provide experts to Shah Ismail Safavi in the manufacture of cannons. He urged them to cooperate with the Shah and to rely thereon as their ally in the region. Among the manifestations of the friendly relations between both sides is that Shah Ismail sent to Albuquerque congratulating him on the seizure of the important island of Hormuz in the Arabian Gulf in the year (1515), asking him to conclude agreements and establish relations of alliance and friendship between them. The Shah even presented him with a precious gift.

Meanwhile, in year 1518, Shah Ismail sent ambassadors to the kings of Hungary and Poland, inviting them to unite with him to fight their common enemy. In the Shah’s message to the King of Hungary he said: “We are expecting, with full insistence, that you will thoroughly consider out request, as, in April, we shall have to attack from our common enemy on both sides.”

Such correspondence remained between Shah Ismail the Safavi and the kings of Europe, including the Austrian Emperor Charles V, to whom the Shah sent a letter written in Latin in the year (1523), in which he offered to coordinate joint operations against the common enemy. Charles V showed great response and interaction with the Shah, stating in his response: “But due to our special longing, we accepted the hospitality of the bearer sent by you and we accepted the message”.

However, the death of Shah Ismail in 1524 slowed down that frantic move against the Arab East, only to be resumed with his successor. Emperor Charles V sent a message through his envoy, Frere Boutros, informing him of the following: “The Emperor is determined to wage war and the Shah shall have to send envoys whom he trusts to inform the Emperor of his decision as soon as possible.”

Correspondence continued between Austria and Persia in (1593) when Emperor Rudolph II of Prague sent a letter to Shah Abbas for the purpose of resuming alliance between them. That alliance continued until the year (1615).

Portuguese-Safavid alliance began in (1509), which is known as the Safavid-Hisporkian alliance or Safavid-Austrian alliance, which began at the beginning of the sixteenth century AD. The Safavids knocked every door of the Crusader kings of Europe to achieve their expansionist aspirations in the Arab East, hoping to restore their defunct empire in history. They are still on this path, weaving intrigues and conspiracies against our Arab nation in various forms.

Persians did left no European empire without trying to urge against the Arabs and Muslims.

  1. Jamal Zakaria Qassem, Arabian Gulf… A study of the History of Arab Emirates in the First European Expansion Era 1507-1840, (Cairo: Dar Al-Fikr Al-Arabi, 1977).


  1. Samira Abdel-Razzaq, “Attempts of the European Safavid Alliance Against Ottoman Empire 1508-1530”, Cairo, Ain Shams Literature Periodical, Issue 45, July-September (2017).


  1. Abd al-Rahman al-Sheikh, “Three Portuguese documents on the plan to seize the Arab world at the beginning of the sixteenth century,” translated and edited by Abd al-Rahman al-Sheikh, Riyadh, Manuscripts World Magazine, King Abdul Aziz Public Library, Issue 5, September (2000).


  1. Falakh Handal, Arabs and Portugal in History (Abu Dhabi: Publications of the Cultural Foundation, 1997).