View Full Version : Arab-Persian wars

Lion of War
12-21-2007, 06:02 PM
Sassanid Persians.

Caliphate expansion.

Years of warfare between Sassanids and Byzantines, as well as the strain of the Khazar invasion of Transcaucasia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Perso-Turkic_War), exhausted both armies. With no effective ruler following Khosrau II, societal chaos, and problems in provincial administration (until Yazdegerd III (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazdegerd_III)), the Persian army lost potency. Yazdegerd III lacked experience and didn't try to rebuild the army.

When Arab squadrons made their first raids into Sassanid territory, Yazdegerd III didn't consider them a threat, and he refused to send an army to encounter the invaders. When the main Arab army reached the Persian borders, Yazdegerd III procrastinated in dispatching an army against the Arabs. Even Rostam-e Farokhzad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostam-e_Farokhzad), who was both Eran Spahbod (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spahbod) and Viceroy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viceroy), didn't see the Arabs as a threat. Without opposition, the Arabs had time to consolidate and fortify their positions.

When the main battle began, the Persian army faced fundamental problems. While heavy cavalry had proved efficient against Roman armies, it was too slow and regimented to act with full force against the agile and unpredictable lightly-armed Arab cavalry and foot archers.
The Persian army did meet with a few initial successes. War-elephants temporarily stopped the Arab army, but when Arab veterans returned from the Syrian fronts where they had been fighting against Byzantine armies, they taught the Arab army how to deal with these beasts. Thus, war-elephants lost their effectiveness.

These factors contributed to the decisive Sassanid defeat at the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_al-Q%C4%81disiyyah). The Persians, who had only the generation before conquered Egypt and Asia Minor, lost decisive battles when nimble, lightly-armed Arabs accustomed to skirmishes and desert warfare attacked them. The Arab squadrons defeated the Persian army in several more battles culminating in the Battle of Nihawānd (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Nihaw%C4%81nd), the last major battle of the Sassanids. The Sassanid dynasty came to an end the following year with the death of Yazdegerd III (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazdegerd_III).

The Islamic conquest of Persia (633–656) led to the end of the Sasssanid and the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity.
Many historians have long offered the idea that Persia, on the verge of the Arab invasion, was a society in decline and decay and thus it embraced the invading Arab armies with open arms. This view is not widely accepted however. Some authors have for example used mostly Arab sources to illustrate that "contrary to the claims , Iranians in fact fought long and hard against the invading Arabs." This view further more holds that once politically conquered, the Persians began engaging in a culture war of resistance and succeeded in forcing their own ways on the victorious Arabs.

The collapse of the Sassanid polity after the death of Khusrau II left the Persians in a weak position vis-a-vis Arab invaders. At first the Muslims merely attempted to consolidate their rule over the fringes of the desert and the Lakhmid Arabs. The border town of Hira (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hira_%28city%29) fell to the Muslims in 633. The Sassanids had reorganized under a new king, Yazdegerd III (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazdegerd_III).
The main military commander of the Muslims, Khalid ibn al-Walid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_ibn_al-Walid), was able to conquer most of Mesopotamia (Iraq) from the Persians in a span of nine months, from April 633 until January 634, after a series of battles. The following are some of the most significant battles fought between the Muslim Arabs and the Persians in Mesopotamia.

Battle of Walaja

The Battle of Walaja was a battle fought in Mesopotamia (Iraq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq)) on May (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May)633 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/633) between the Muslim Arabs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquests) under Khalid ibn al-Walid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_ibn_al-Walid) against the Persian Empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sassanid_Empire) and its Arab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab) allies. The strength of the Persian army at the battle was 10,000–50,000 compared to 18,000 for the Arabs.
Khalid decisively defeated the Persian forces using a variation of the double envelopment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pincer_movement) tactical manoeuvre, similar to the manoeuvre Hannibal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannibal) used to defeat the Roman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Republic) forces at the Battle of Cannae (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cannae), though Khalid developed his version independently.

Battle of Firaz

Khalid defeated the combined forces of the Persian Empire, Byzantine Empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire) and Christian Arabs at the Battle of Firaz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Firaz). The result of the battle was a decisive victory for Khalid, which led to most of Mesopotamia being annexed by the Muslims.
After this victory, Khalid left Mesopotamia to lead another campaign at Syria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_conquest_of_Syria) against the Roman Empire, after which Mithna ibn Haris took command in Mesopotamia.

Battle of the Bridge

The Sassanids mounted a counterattack under Bahman Jadu, who led 9,000 Persians against 10,000 Arabs. The Persians won a major victory at the Battle of the Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Bridge) against the Muslims in October 634, in which Abu Ubaid was killed in battle. The Persians lost 600 men, and the Arabs more than 4,000.
After a decisive Muslim victory against the Romans in Syria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant) at the Battle of Yarmuk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Yarmuk) in 636, the second caliph, Umar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umar), was able to transfer forces to the east and resume the offensive against the Sassanids.

The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah

This was the decisive engagement that sealed the fate of the Sassanid empire. Around the year 636, Rostam Farrokhzād (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostam_Farrokhzad), advisor and general for Yazdegerd III (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazdegerd_III) (r. 632–51) led an army said to number 60,000 men across the Euphrates River (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphrates_River) to al-Qādisiyyah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_al-Q%C4%81disiyyah), near the present-day city of Hilla (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilla) in Iraq (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq). Some have criticised him for this decision to face the Arabs on their own ground — on the fringes of the desert — and surmised that the Persians could have held their own if they had stayed on the opposite bank of the Euphrates.
The Caliph (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliph)Umar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umar) dispatched 36,000 men under the command of Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sa%27ad_ibn_Abi_Waqqas) against the Persian army. The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_al-Q%C4%81disiyyah) followed, with the Persians prevailing at first, but on the third day of fighting, the Muslims gained the upper hand. The Persian general Rostam Farrokhzād (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rostam_Farrokhz%C4%81d) was caught and beheaded. According to some sources, the Persian losses were 20,000, and the Arabs lost 8,500 men.
Following the Battle, the Arab Muslim armies pushed forward toward the Persian capital of Ctesiphon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ctesiphon) (also called Madā'in in Arabic), which was quickly evacuated by Yazdgird after a brief siege. After seizing the city, they continued their drive eastwards, following Yazdgird and his remaining troops. Within a short space of time, the Arab armies defeated a major Sāsānian counter-attack in the Battle of Jalūlā', as well as other engagements at Qasr-e Shirin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasr-e_Shirin), and Masabadhan. By the mid-7th Century, the Arabs controlled all of Mesopotamia, including the area that is now the Iranian province of Khuzestan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khuzestan).

It is said that the caliph Umar did not wish to send his troops through the Zagros mountains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zagros_mountains) and onto the Iranian plateau. One tradition has it that he wished for a "wall of fire" to keep the Arabs and Persians apart. Later commentators explain this as a common-sense precaution against over-extension of his forces. The Arabs had only recently conquered large territories that still had to be garrisoned and administered

Battle of Nahavand

Umar's generals and warriors pushed for further action. They argued that Yazdegerd III could again become a threat if he were left undisturbed while raising more troops. The continued existence of the Persian government was an incitement to revolt in the conquered territories. Finally, those Arabs who felt slighted in the distribution of land and booty from the Mesopotamian conquests pushed for further raids.
Umar relented. Arab raiding parties passed over the Zagros mountains separating Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau.
Yazdegerd, the Sassanid king, made yet another effort to regroup and defeat the invaders. By 641 he had raised a new force, which took a stand at Nihavand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nahavand), some forty miles south of Hamadan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamadan) in modern Iran. Al-Nu'man ibn Muqarrin al-Muzani and his cavalry attacked and again defeated the Persian forces. Muslims recognized it as the Victory of victories (Fath alfotuh).

Yazdegerd was unable to raise another army and became a hunted fugitive. He fled from one district to another until a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merv) in 651 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/651). The Islamic forces established a garrison town at Merv. By 656 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/656), they had already conquered Greater Khorasan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_Khorasan) (which included the cities Merv and Balkh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkh), with the center or capital being the city of Herat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herat)). For many decades to come, this was the easternmost limit of complete Muslim rule.



Lion of War
12-21-2007, 06:29 PM



Babak Khorramdin's castle Fortress.

Babak Khorram-Din and his followers promoted a purely Iranian religion as an alternative to Islam. During a 20-year rebellion (816-837 AD) they killed many of the Abbasid Caliphate's (750-1258 AD) troops.

In 755 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/755), Abū Muslim of Khorassan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Muslim), a famous and popular Persian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_people) nationalist, was murdered. Although he had helped the Abbasids (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbasid) to defeat the former Caliphs, the Umayyad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umayyad) dynasty, the ruling Caliph had given the order to kill him, probably because of his increasing popularity among Iranians and Non-Muslims. Many Iranians, who had expected more freedom and more rights from the new rulers, could not believe that their hero was killed by the ruling Caliph whom they had considered a friend of Iran and Iranians
This incident lead to many revolts, mostly by angry Zoroastrians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism). This, in turn, forced the Caliphs to use more violence against the Iranian population in order to keep the eastern provinces under control. The constant revolts did not come to an end in the following decades, and the Iranian population of the Caliphate was constantly being oppressed.

Under the direction of his Mentor Javidan b. Shahrak, a leader of one of the sects of the Khorramdin, his knowledge of history, geography, and the latest battle tactics strengthened his position as a favorite candidate for commander during the early wars against the Arab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab) occupiers.

Bābak was a highly spiritual person who respected his Zoroastrian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrian) heritage. He made every possible effort to bring Iranians together and also with leaders such as Maziar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maziar) to form a united front against the Arab Caliph. According to the medieval historian, Ibn Esfandyar, who composed the book "Tarikh-e-Tabaristan", Maziar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maziar) said:

However, one of the most dramatic periods in the history of Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran) was set under Bābak’s leadership between 816-837. During these most crucial years, they not only fought against the Caliphate, but also for the preservation of Persian language (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_language) and culture.

After the death of Javidan, he married Javadan's wife, and became the Khorramis' leader, sometime in the year 816-17 in al-Ma'mun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ma%27mun)'s reign. Babak incited his followers to rise in rebellion against the caliphal regime. The reports state that Babak called Persians to arms, seized castles and strong points, thereby barring roads to his enemies. Gradually a large multitude joined him.

There had long been groups of Khorramis scattered in Isfahan, Azarbaijan, Ray, Hamadan, Armenia, Gorgan, and elsewhere of Iran.

The next year Babak routed the forces of Afshin's subordinate, Bugha al-Kabir. In 837-838 al-Mu'tasim reinforced Afshin and provided him clear military instructions. Patiently following these enabled Afshin to capture Babak's stronghold of Badhdh. Babak escaped. Al-Mu'tasim sent a safety guarantee for Babak to Afshin. This was taken to Babak who was very displeased.

He said:

"Better to live for just a single day as a ruler than to live for forty years as an abject slave."

He made his way to the Armenian leader Sunbat. Sunbat, however, betrayed Babak to Afshin. Al-Mu'tasim commanded his general to bring Babak to him. Afshin informed Babak of this and told him since Babak might never return, this was the time to take a last look around. At Babak's request, Afshin allowed his prisoner to go to Badhdh. There Babak walked through his ruined stronghold one night until dawn.

Eventually, Bābak, his wife, and his warriors were forced to leave Ghaleye Bābak after 23 years of constant campaigns. He was eventually betrayed by Afshin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afshin) and was handed over to the Abbasid Caliph. During Bābak’s execution, the Caliph's henchmen first cut off his legs and hands in order to convey the most devastating message to his followers. The legend says that Bābak bravely rinsed his face with the drained blood pouring out of his cuts, thus depriving the Caliph and the rest of the Abbasid army from seeing his pale face, a result of the heavy loss of blood.

Lion of War
12-21-2007, 06:45 PM
Iran-Iraq war

Early on in his career, Saddam Hussein (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein) and pan-Arab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-Arab) ideologues targeted the Arabs of southwest Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran) in an endeavour to have them separate and join “the Arab nation”. Saddam made no effort to conceal Arab Nationalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Nationalism) in his war against Iran (which he called "the second Battle of al-Qādisiyyah). An intense campaign of propaganda during his reign meant that many school children were taught that Iran provoked Iraq into invading and that the invasion was fully justified. Saddām on numerous occasions alluded to the Islamic conquest of Iran (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_conquest_of_Iran) in propagating his anti-Persian position against Iran.

example, on 02 April (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_02)1980 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980), a half-year before the outbreak of the war, in a visit by Saddām to al-Mustansiriyyah University in Baghdad, drawing parallels to the 7th-Century defeat of Persia in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_al-Q%C4%81disiyyah) he announced:
"In your name, brothers, and on behalf of the Iraqis and Arabs everywhere we tell those [Persian] cowards who try to avenge Al-Qadisiyah that the spirit of Al-Qadisiyah as well as the blood and honor of the people of Al-Qadisiyah who carried the message on their spearheads are greater than their attempts.
Saddam also accused Iranians of "murdering the second (Umar), third (Uthman), and fourth (Ali) Caliphs of Islam", invading the three islands of Abu Musa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Musa) and Greater and Lesser Tunbs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_and_Lesser_Tunbs) in the "Arabic Gulf", and attempting to destroy the Arabic language and civilization.

Saddam was ideologically backed by his Arab (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab) brethren. King Khalid of Saudi Arabia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalid_of_Saudi_Arabia) for example wrote to Saddam to "crush these stupid Iranians" (این ایرانیهای احمق را له کنید) as Saddam pushed on with the invasion of Iranian territory. It has often been claimed that Iraq recruited non-Iraqi Arabs during the war to balance the far superior number of Iranian forces on the ground.

In December 2006, Saddam Hussein said he would take responsibility "with honour" for any attacks on Iran using conventional or chemical weapons during the 1980-1988 war but he took issue with charges he ordered attacks on Iraqis.

On the execution day, Saddam Hussein said: "I spent my whole life fighting the infidels and the intruders [...] I destroyed the invaders and the Persians". He also stressed that the Iraqis should fight the Americans and the Persians. Mowaffak al Rubiae, Iraq's National Security adviser, who was a witness to Saddam's execution described Saddam as repeatedly shouting "down with Persians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_people)."

12-21-2007, 07:00 PM
Very interesting read, Thanks for posting.

Lion of War
12-21-2007, 07:14 PM
Very interesting read, Thanks for posting.

I can post more in a few,I was reading a few books that got me interested.

Mr. Bunny
12-21-2007, 08:24 PM
very interesting

thank you for sharing

12-21-2007, 08:29 PM
Thanks would be interesting. Funny thing about Saddam, was that he said to fight the Americans and Persians.

During the Iran and Iraqi war, the Soviets where the primary supporters of Saddam. Now Russia (ex SU) is close to Iran.

The situation in Iran is very interesting. I have a lot of respect for the Persian people.

Other interesting aspect, a friend who is Sunni, says, the center of Shia is Iraq, the Shia in Iraq controls the Shia in Iran.

I guess we will see how this all plays out.

12-24-2007, 05:53 AM
Excellent post, I am pretty interested in middle eastern history (hence the name) so any more would be good to read

Lion of War
12-24-2007, 10:54 AM
Abu Bekr, the first successor of the Prophet Mohammed, was head of the Moslem community from 632 to 634. He set about patching up the internal unrest between tribes. Then Omar, caliph (head of the Muslem community) from 634 to 644, initiated an explosive expansion of Islam. He seized Syria, then Jerusalem and finally Damascus in 638 after having defeated Heraclius. In 635, other Arab troops launched an assault on the Sassanian Empire, and crossed the Euphrates. The downfall of the empire was well underway when the Arab horsemen dealt the deathblow to the Sassanid dynasty and overran Persia first entering Ctesiphon in 637.

Letter responce from King of King Yazdgird 3(632 AD - 651 AD)
The original copy of this letter from Yazdgird III (632 AD - 651 AD) is in Museum of London.

12-24-2007, 12:04 PM
new it looks like Persians can take back what they lost many hundreds years ago

12-24-2007, 12:49 PM
I find it facinating how Persia has withstood so much.
It recovered quickly after the Macedonian invasion to soon become the main rival to Rome, especially with the dreaded cataphract. It manged to keep most of its identity after the Arab invasion, going so far as to incorperating Arabic calligraphy into Farsi, an art in itself, and even having the Koran in Farsi as well, instead of Arabic. Plus, it gave thinkers such as Avicenna to us. When the Mongols came, Baghdad and Damascus were sacked. However, Persian culture was fostered up by leaders such as Timur.
I have no doubt that Persia will withstand and free itself the hold of the extreme mullahs as well.

Lion of War
12-24-2007, 01:32 PM
It took a mere 20 years for the Arabs to go on the war path after the death of their prophet Mohammed.Between 462 and the first decade of the 8th century AD Arabic Islamic forces pierced the vulnerable underbelly of Magian Iran.Tirelessly they annhilated pre-Islamic Persian cultures of the region,stealing for themselves the choicest jewel of Asia's lucrative silk road.

As the Arabs entrenched themselves throughout newly-acquired Iran,remnants of the ousted Persian Royal family, and the Magi of Zoroaster (An Aryan prophet who lived during the 6th century BC) withdrew to Tabaristan near the Caspian Sea.Determined to their people and faith from Islamic domination they established well-garrisoned throughout Khoresmia, in conjunction with the region's already sizeable Buddhist population.Yet even this refuge was destined to collapse in time.

Location: The City of Khorezm, 712 AD,due east of the Caspian Sea,in the land of the Sun.

Khorezm,one of the last great bastions of the wizards,had fallen to Caliph Walid I.Islamic cavalry and footmen engaged the city's last remaining defenders in pitched battles,As they seized control of the streets and public buildings.Smoke hung over it like a buzzard.Jumpy vultures swooped down on the many corpses littering the forlorn,sunburnt thoroughfares.Haunting screams reverberated around the dying city.People succumbing to wounds,weeping orphans.In the aftermath of the siege,its inhabbitats were detained and question.Some if not many were executed,others deported to make way for the waves of ensuing Arab colonists.

The Magi,the priesthood of astrologers and scientists so central to Iranian pre-Islamic were not to be spared.To let them live was to invite a possible resurgence of the old faith.So they were put to death as encountered.They had governed large parts of Asia,served in the court of the Chinese emperor, and studied alongside the priests,priesteeses and philosophers of Greece,Rome,India and Egypt.Coould it be that a religion so esteemed throughout antiquity should perish this ingloriously? Could it be that the age of the Wizards has ended?

Lion of War
12-24-2007, 01:41 PM
Part-2 from the book I'm reading.


Arab soldiers rushed through the halls of the Herbadestans (Magian colleges),where wizards once trained.Rooms that formerly came alive with the orations of wise folk and academics stood deathly silent.All that remained was to destroy or commandeer the books kept by the wizards,a wealth of wisdom and higher learning accumulated by the time since the Bronze age.But as they furtievly searched these institutions,they realised their worst nightmare had come true.Few writtings were found.Evidently a unknown number of Magi had escaped their clutches.

Under new suppression orders Persian writtings was banned, Magian fire temples refurbished as mosque's, and non pre-Islamic Iranian dhimmis subjected to extensive public humiliation,heavy taxation and extortion.Over the next two hundred years Islam spread like wild fire across North Africa,Even as far west as Spain.

Lion of War
12-24-2007, 02:06 PM
The Magi retaliate, attacking Islamic settlements in Spain.

Location: Spain, the flourishing Moorish Caliphate of Seville, under the governance of Abd ar-Rahman II,Anno Domini 845.

If it wasn't for the massive invasion fleet mustered off shore,it would have been an otherwise normal day in Islamic Spain.The muezzin should have been atop the minaret,his wail calling the faithful to mosque.Instead ,fearful citizens looked seaward in horror as hundreds of serpent-prowed ships glided ashore.They had sailed far just to get there,All the way from Russia.under orders from there king.

As the longships beached,their angry raiders leaping overboard into shallow surf,it became obvious that Seville was about to get a call from some old friends- Al Madjus,the Magi.By the time the invaders had settled there grudge,must of the city lay in tatters.

The Magi did not disappear.

You see the Magi did not vanished at all.In the shadow of the lofty Caucuses the exiles rebuilt their temples,and hundreds of kilometers of stone defensive works and towers,all designed to keep the Muslims at bay.Others went further afield to Armenia,Transcarpathia, the Balkans,Russia and Scandanavia,into the arms of an even older enemy, the Christians.It was in such places that they regrouped,reorganised and planned retributive military action.Over the next two hundred years,combined heathen Norse,Russian and Alanic forces repeatedly launched brave attacks against the Islamic,Jewish and Christian heartlands of the east,brazenly foraying into Iran,Byzantium,Anatolia and the Caucuses.