All Concessions to the Europeans to Surround the Arab World
Alliances of Safavid state in the European periphery did not only represent political relations, but were a Safavid strategic choice to demolish Islam and eliminate it in its infancy after the Safavid state was established as a satanic plant on the borders of the Arab world until it reached its negative impact on the independence of the Arab world. That impact is still valid till today, as an inevitable result of their alliance with European colonialism at the height of its colonial ambitions and its targeting of the Arab world from the Persian Gulf to Morocco at its extremity.
Safavids, like their Persian ancestors, saw Islam as the cause of destruction of their Persian empire and believed that the elimination of the Arabs was the basis from which they proceeded to return to their ancient glories as they claim. On the other hand, the Europeans saw that their return to the Holy Land in Palestine and the launching of the Crusades must pass through the elimination of the Muslim Arabs and the return of the Roman Empire to its ancient borders in the East, as it was before the advent of Islam.
When the Safavid state began its foreign relations, it did not seek understanding with its Arab Muslim neighbors, but rather went for an alliance with the Crusader states in Europe that brought down Andalusia and began establishing fleets to reach the Arabian Peninsula, as confirmed by Portuguese documents.
Whoever monitors the Safavid mentality, and how it managed its relations with its neighbors and with the international space at the time, will find that it fought its Arab Islamic surroundings and immediately built strategic relations that reached the point of alliance with Austria, Portugal, Hungary and Italy; alliances of interest between both parties whose first enemy was the Arabs.
Alliance with the Crusader powers had become a feature that distinguished the Safavid state, which saw that rapprochement with the Crusaders was more beneficial to them than their rapprochement with the Muslim Arabs, while the Arab and Islamic states were in dire need to confront the new crusades that came with Spain, Austria and Portugal, which succeeded in overthrowing Andalusia and was on the way to occupy other Muslim states and peoples, which was actually achieved in the decades following the ill-fated alliance.
Safavid state did not stand neutral between the Crusaders and the Arabs, though it was possible, but rather took a biased and hostile stance in alliance with the Europeans, weaving conspiracies against the Arabs, entering into military agreements with European states to eliminate the Islamic forces and preparing the land for them, as it did when it was granted the Portuguese the right to dispose of Hormuz Island in the Persian Gulf, which it later turned into a platform for the occupation of the Arab coasts from the western colonial. Several political historians note that the Safavids were the ones who introduced colonial powers to the Persian Gulf region, after paving the way by concluding military and commercial alliances with the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. Perhaps the most prominent of these conspiracies occurred during the reign of Shah Ismail the Safavids, after the bitter defeat that befell him in the battle of Chaldiran in (1514); as he moved immediately to ally with Portugal to cover his defeat.
Persian agreements against the Islamic world in the era of the Safavid state were shameful.
Agreement with Venice
Safavids’ agreement with the Republic of Phenicia (Venice) was shameful, as described by many historians, at all levels. Venice was in its worst economic and military state following the elimination of the Byzantine state and the closure of the main trade route between Europe and Asia. Hence, Shah Ismail sent ambassadors to the Venice court as a lifeline for them, asking them to attack the east by sea, where he attacks from the land side, provided that Venice shall regain its lost bases in the Mediterranean.
Safavid Shah, Abbas, also had several contacts and conspiracies with the Crusaders and made offers to the Spaniards through the “Venetians” to share the Arab lands, so that the first would attack from the European part while he monopolizes the Asian part. That offer was only one of many offers carried by Iranian ambassadors to Europe.
Historian Abbas Iqbal says in his book, History of Iran after Islam: “Shah Ismail is undoubtedly considered one of the greatest kings of Iran. Although he crossed the path of fairness and chivalry in imposing the doctrine of Shiism on the people of Iran, most of whom until that time were Sunnis, so he shed the blood of many innocent people with harshness, yet his policy in that regard, i.e. creating sectarian unity in Iran and making the Shiite sect an official sect, in addition to choosing the path followed by his successors, led to a very important result, which is protecting Iranian society from the evil of fanatics’ attacks, who called themselves, from the late era of Sultan Selim, the princes of the believers and the caliphs of all Muslims. They claimed that all Muslims must obey them with out of faith and creed, as was the people in the time of the Abbasids, and that they have to acknowledge that carrying out the Sultan’s orders is a religious duty, after following the judgment of Allah and His Messenger. The policy of the Safavid kings prevented Iranian people from being deceived thereby and getting involved in losing their independence in Sunni community. Add to this, they have always been courting and associated with the European Christians states, receiving their ambassadors and sending them their envoys. By this way, Iran knew about Europe, which was in a state of sophistication and advancement, in prelude for the transfer of some means of the new civilization to Iran.
In the book, History of Iran, Shahin Makarios mentions that Shah Abbas issued a circular to his subjects saying: “The Christians are his friends and allies of his country and that he commands his subjects to respect and honor them wherever they go. In continuation of this policy, the Shah opened the ports of his country to European merchants and recommended that no duties would be taken therefrom on their goods and that none of the rulers or the people should harm them.” Makarios says: “Shah Ismail was the first to do this openly”.
- Bassem Hamza, “Iran’s Military, Doctrinal and Domestic Policy and Its Impact on Foreign Policy during the Reign of Shah Ismail Al-Safavid 1501-1524”, Journal of Iranian Studies, University of Basra, Issues 10-11 (2009).
- Shawqi El-Gamal, Great Arab Maghreb from the Islamic Conquest to the Present Time (Cairo: Anglo Bookshop, 1977).
- Abdel Aziz Nawar, History of the Islamic Peoples in Modern Era (Cairo: Dar Al-Fikr Al-Arabi, 1998).
- Muhammad Suhail Takush, History of the Safavid State in Iran (Beirut: Dar Al-Nafais, 2009).