Shapur II’s campaign
History always confirms the repeated attempts by the rulers of Persia to impose their control over the Arab region, especially the Arabian Peninsula. Here, it is necessary to point out the importance of geopolitics in this field, as the Arabian Peninsula shares with Iraq (Mesopotamia) by land, especially in the area of southern Iraq, and the Persian attempts to expand westward to Mesopotamia are well known. Persian ambitions did not stop in the Arabian Gulf region, which the rulers of Iran always try to control.
In the face of this brutal Persian challenge, there have always been Arab attempts to confront the Persian expansion and confirm the Arab presence on the eastern “Iranian” coast of the Arabian Gulf.
History records important victories for the Arabs in this field. Perhaps the story of Odaenathus, the king of Palmyra, is one of the important examples of this, as Odaenathus was able to attack the army of Shapur I when he returned victorious from his war with the Roman emperor, and the Persian army was defeated. Odaenathus was not satisfied with that, but chased the Persians to the walls of Al-Mada’in. The Romans rejoiced at this and called him “Augustus”.
In the early days of the rule of Shapur II, who took power as a young man, the Arab tribes were able to extend their influence in the regions of southern Iran and confirm the Arab presence there. These tribes began to play important roles in the region and the Sassanid state itself had to respect this influence.
Shapur II, known for his hatred of Arabs, decided to confront these Arab communities instead of coexisting with them. These violent confrontations began in the Khuzestan region. Shapur was not satisfied with his victory over the Arabs in Khuzestan, but across the Gulf and attacked the island of Bahrain, where he committed a great massacre. He resided in Hajr Al-Yamamah, where he killed people mercilessly and killed large numbers from the Arabs of Tamim and Bakr tribes. After that, Shapur II marched to the land of Abd Al-Qais, where historical sources tell of the genocide he committed against its people, and only those who fled in the desert survived. He also marched until he reached the city.
Shapur II was not satisfied with that, but he also eliminated all aspects of life in the region, as he resorted to the policy of backfilling water wells, which is the only way of life in the middle of the desert, to deprive the rest of people from the right to live.
Shapur II also marched north and attacked the regions of Bani Bakr and Taghlib, which lies between the Kingdom of Persia and the Empire of the Romans. Shapur II repeated his policy of genocide and elimination all aspects of life.
Under the pretext of disciplining the Arab tribes and subjecting them to his tyranny, Shapur II committed the crime of forced displacement, as he settled those who were from Bani Taghlib from Bahrain in “Dareen” and named it “Hig” and “Al-Khat”. Those who were from Abd Al-Qais and the sects of Bani Tamim were settled in “Hajr”. Those who were from Bakr bin Wael were settled in “Kerman” and they were the ones called “Bakr bin Aban”. Those who were from Bani Handala were settled in “Rumaila” from the land of Ahvaz. Shapur II tried to justify the crime of forced displacement, arguing that it was in retaliation against these tribes who inhabited southern Iran.
Arab historical sources recorded all the massacres of Shapur II and called him “Shapur with the shoulders”. It is said that he was called that because he was dislocating the shoulders of Arab captives. It is also said that he was called that because he pierced the shoulders of Arab captives and tied them into ropes.
The Arabs never forgot the crime of Shapur II, so they helped the Roman army in their war against the Persians until they succeeded in defeating the Persians and taking Al-Mada’in for a period of time. The brutality of the Persians will remain in the memory of the Arabs, so the Qur’an preached the victory of the Romans over the Persians, due to the brutality of the Persians towards the Arabs, and because the Romans had a heavenly religion and a holy book.