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Rivalries between the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the Safavid Iranian Empire

Compiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz

The Second Treaty of Istanbul between the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the Safavid Iranian Empire
On 11th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 1149 AH, as per the Second Treaty of Istanbul between the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the Safavid Persian Empire, the 6-year war came to its end, with Iraq and the Caucasus restored to Iranian control. The military commander, Nader Qoli, who was dissatisfied by the loss of territory to the Ottomans by Shah Tahmasp II as per the clauses of a treaty signed 4 years earlier, revived the might of the Persian Empire with his victories, deposed Abbas III to end the Safavid Dynasty, crowned himself as Nader Shah, and forced the Ottomans had to hand over to Iran both Tiblisi the capital of Georgia, and Yerevan the capital of Armenia, as per the new treaty.

Baghdad seized from Iran and annexed to the Ottoman Empire
On 24th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 941 AH, Baghdad was seized from Iran and annexed to the Ottoman Empire along with most of Iraq by Sultan Suleiman, after Shah Tahmasb I withdrew his troops and did not offer resistance. Suleiman, fresh from his victories in the West that brought under Ottoman control extensive territories in south-central Europe, turned towards the east, since like his father, Sultan Selim I, he was in constant fear of Safavid influence in Anatolia and even Syria. During his long 46-year reign which coincided with the longer 52-year reign of Shah Tahmasp, he launched massive invasions of the Persian Empire three times, but on all three occasions failed to shatter the resolve of the Iranians from the Caucasus till the Persian Gulf, losing on one occasion 30,000 soldiers, despite giving a sectarian Sunni-Shi'ite colour to his campaigns. In the end the two empires signed a peace treaty.
The name Baghdad is Middle Persian and means “God-given”. The city was built as “Madinat as-Salaam” (City of Peace) on the banks of the River Tigris by the Abbasid caliph Mansour Dawaniqi near Ctesiphon or Mada'en, the ancient pre-Islamic capital of the Iranian Parthian and Sassanid Empires, which along with their predecessor, the Achaemenid Empire, exercised control over Iraq for over a thousand years – except for a brief interlude when Alexander of Macedonia overran the Persian Empire. After the advent of Islam, Iranians, now devout Muslims, continued to dominate Iraqi affairs, playing a significant role in the uprising of Mukhtar ibn Abi Obaidah Thaqafi to avenge the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad's (SAWA) grandson, Imam Husain (AS). During Abbasid times, in addition to viziers and state officials, most of the Islamic scholars and scientists of Baghdad, were Iranians who wrote in Arabic and even perfected Arabic grammar. With the weakening of the Abbasids, Baghdad again became the seat of power of the Iranian Bouyid dynasty, and in later centuries, despite Ottoman control, whenever a strong ruler emerged in Iran, such as Shah Abbas the Great or Nader Shah, Baghdad and most of Iraq reverted to Iranian control.

The Peace Treaty of Amasya signed by the Ottoman Turkish and Safavid Persian Empires
On 26th of the Islamic month of Jamadi as-Sani in 962 AH, the Peace Treaty of Amasya was signed by the Ottoman Turkish and Safavid Persian Empires to end hostilities between the two sides, after three massive but unsuccessful invasions in the course of 22 years by Sultan Suleiman, who was outwitted by the tact and diplomacy of Shah Tahmasb I. The frontier of the two empires was delineated through Anatolia, Iraq, and the Caucasus, with Georgia being divided between the Ottomans and the Safavids. The Ottomans, in return for their annexation of Baghdad and most of Iraq, gave permission for Iranian pilgrims to visit Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz, and Najaf and Karbala.

The Battle of Chaldiran
On 2nd of the Islamic month of Rajab in 920AH/ On August 20, 1514 AD, the Battle of Chaldiran took place in the plain of the same name between the two northwestern Iranian cities of Tabriz and Khoy between the Ottoman and the Safavid Empires, in which Sultan Selim who was on the verge of defeat and contemplating flight, unexpectedly found victory as Shah Ismail’s forces suddenly gave way after brave resistance. Safavids while on the verge victory against the Ottomans, who were all prepared to flee the battlefield, faltered at the last moment for their disdain to use canons, which enabled the Turks to defeat the Iranians.
The Ottomans, who were afraid of the growing influence of the Safavids in Anatolia and Syria, succeeded in checking Shah Ismail’s advance in what is now Turkey, but withdrew from Tabriz and retreated on hearing news of reorganization of the famous Qizilbash Corps by the Iranians. This was the first of the many battles between the two sides that continued intermittently for almost two-and-a-half centuries for control of the Caucasus, parts of Anatolia and Iraq.

The Battle of Jildir
On 7th of the Islamic month of Rajab in 986 AH, the Battle of Jildir was fought in northeast Anatolia as the initial armed encounter of the 12-year war between the Ottomans and the Safavids for control of the Caucasus, thus ending the 23-year Peace of Amasya, two years after the death of Shah Tahmasb I of Iran and four years after the death of the Turkish sultan, Sulaiman – the two signatories to the peace treaty. These inter-Muslim hostilities were started by Murad III, who resenting the growing inclination of the Turkish tribes of Anatolia towards the school of the Prophet's Ahl al-Bayt, made a pact with France, stopped the Ottoman push into Europe, and massacred thousands of Shi'ite Muslims in his dominions. Although the Ottomans defeated the Persian army, seized Tiflis, the capital of Georgia from Iran, and went on to occupy Daghestan's capital Derbend on the Caspian Sea, their victories were temporary, as these areas were later liberated by Shah Abbas I.

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