Safavid occupation of Basra

  • safavid occupation of basra

    1697–1701
    17th-century map zoomed in on the persian gulf area]
    basra (bassora) on a 1688 map created by justus danckerts
    statusmilitary occupation
    capitalbasra
    historical eraearly modern period
    • established
    26 march 1697
    • disestablished
    9 march 1701
    preceded by
    succeeded by
    basra eyalet
    basra eyalet
    today part of iraq

    the safavid occupation of basra (1697–1701) took place between 26 march 1697 and 9 march 1701. it was the second time that the important persian gulf city had fallen to the iranian safavid empire.

    basra, located in present-day iraq, had already been under safavid control from 1508 to 1524, when it was lost upon shah ("king") ismail i's death. in the ensuing period, the ottomans, rivals of the safavids, managed to establish nominal rule over the city. de facto rule of basra remained in the hands of the local arab al-mughamis tribe, a branch of the banu'l-muntafiq. in 1596, the ottoman governor of basra, ali pasha, sold his office to a local named afrasiyab. over the next c. 70 years, basra was considered a hereditary eyalet under afrasiyab and his descendants.

    the safavid attempts to retake basra in 1624, 1625, and 1628–1629 proved unsuccessful, through a combination of portuguese interference, pressing concerns on other fronts and, finally, shah abbas the great's (r. 1588–1629) death. basra continued to be pulled towards the safavids due to geographical and economic reasons. issues related to pilgrimage, uneasy ottoman relations with the rulers of basra, and unrest in the southern part of ottoman-held iraq continued to irk the safavids and prompt safavid involvement in southern iraq. when the safavids were given the opportunity to regain territory in iraq under shah suleiman i (r. 1666–1694) however, they did not act. for instance, in 1667, when the ottomans conducted a punitive expedition to basra, its ruler husayn pasha of the afrasiyab dynasty evacuated the city's population to safavid territory and offered control of basra to the safavids. shah suleiman i dismissed husayn pasha's pleas as he did not want to antagonize the ottomans.

    in 1690, plague and famine led to tribal unrest among the muntafiqs in southern iraq. in 1695, the local arab tribal leader shaykh mane ibn mughamis led his tribesmen in a revolt against the ottomans. shaykh mane and his men gained control of basra with the support of 5,000 members of the moshasha, a muslim shi'i sect. in 1697, members of the moshasha loyal to farajollah khan, the safavid-appointed governor of arabestan province, defeated shaykh mane and his men, ousting them from the city. the safavid government realized that shaykh mane and his men were keen to retake basra and wanted to attack nearby hoveyzeh, the capital of arabestan province. this time the safavids under shah sultan husayn (r. 1694–1722) reacted by sending a force led by ali mardan khan to basra. on 26 march 1697 troops sent by the safavid government took control of the city. however, the safavids were concerned about the weakened state of their military and did not want to disrupt the peace with the ottomans. this, in combination with continued pressure by shaykh mane and his tribesmen on basra, eventually led the safavids to decide to return basra to ottoman control. on 9 march 1701, the safavid forces withdrew from basra, and on 10 march the ottomans retook control of the city.

  • background
  • prelude
  • safavid control: 1697–1701
  • assessment
  • notes
  • references
  • sources

Safavid occupation of Basra

1697–1701
17th-century map zoomed in on the Persian Gulf area]
Basra (Bassora) on a 1688 map created by Justus Danckerts
StatusMilitary occupation
CapitalBasra
Historical eraEarly modern period
• Established
26 March 1697
• Disestablished
9 March 1701
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Basra Eyalet
Basra Eyalet
Today part of Iraq

The Safavid occupation of Basra (1697–1701) took place between 26 March 1697 and 9 March 1701. It was the second time that the important Persian Gulf city had fallen to the Iranian Safavid Empire.

Basra, located in present-day Iraq, had already been under Safavid control from 1508 to 1524, when it was lost upon Shah ("King") Ismail I's death. In the ensuing period, the Ottomans, rivals of the Safavids, managed to establish nominal rule over the city. De facto rule of Basra remained in the hands of the local Arab Al-Mughamis tribe, a branch of the Banu'l-Muntafiq. In 1596, the Ottoman governor of Basra, Ali Pasha, sold his office to a local named Afrasiyab. Over the next c. 70 years, Basra was considered a hereditary eyalet under Afrasiyab and his descendants.

The Safavid attempts to retake Basra in 1624, 1625, and 1628–1629 proved unsuccessful, through a combination of Portuguese interference, pressing concerns on other fronts and, finally, Shah Abbas the Great's (r. 1588–1629) death. Basra continued to be pulled towards the Safavids due to geographical and economic reasons. Issues related to pilgrimage, uneasy Ottoman relations with the rulers of Basra, and unrest in the southern part of Ottoman-held Iraq continued to irk the Safavids and prompt Safavid involvement in southern Iraq. When the Safavids were given the opportunity to regain territory in Iraq under Shah Suleiman I (r. 1666–1694) however, they did not act. For instance, in 1667, when the Ottomans conducted a punitive expedition to Basra, its ruler Husayn Pasha of the Afrasiyab dynasty evacuated the city's population to Safavid territory and offered control of Basra to the Safavids. Shah Suleiman I dismissed Husayn Pasha's pleas as he did not want to antagonize the Ottomans.

In 1690, plague and famine led to tribal unrest among the Muntafiqs in southern Iraq. In 1695, the local Arab tribal leader Shaykh Mane ibn Mughamis led his tribesmen in a revolt against the Ottomans. Shaykh Mane and his men gained control of Basra with the support of 5,000 members of the Moshasha, a Muslim Shi'i sect. In 1697, members of the Moshasha loyal to Farajollah Khan, the Safavid-appointed governor of Arabestan Province, defeated Shaykh Mane and his men, ousting them from the city. The Safavid government realized that Shaykh Mane and his men were keen to retake Basra and wanted to attack nearby Hoveyzeh, the capital of Arabestan Province. This time the Safavids under Shah Sultan Husayn (r. 1694–1722) reacted by sending a force led by Ali Mardan Khan to Basra. On 26 March 1697 troops sent by the Safavid government took control of the city. However, the Safavids were concerned about the weakened state of their military and did not want to disrupt the peace with the Ottomans. This, in combination with continued pressure by Shaykh Mane and his tribesmen on Basra, eventually led the Safavids to decide to return Basra to Ottoman control. On 9 March 1701, the Safavid forces withdrew from Basra, and on 10 March the Ottomans retook control of the city.