Nadir Shah's Foreign Policy and Its Consequences for Afsharid Persia

  June 08, 2021   Read time 2 min
Nadir Shah's Foreign Policy and Its Consequences for Afsharid Persia
Expansionism is usually used as a strategy for enriching the existing resources of a country but it does not work in every context in the same form. Sometimes expansionist projects can even destroy the existing resources. Nadir Shah's expansionism and his hostile policy against the neighboring countries is a witness to this fact.

It was not, however, Nadir’s irredentist and expansionist wars as such that weakened Iran. No doubt they were a severe drain on Iranian material and human resources. But still worse was his unrealism. Whether he fought “wars of liberation” or of imperialist expansion, the welfare of his country, the relationship between his military capabilities and territorial objectives, the relationship between military means and political ends, and the coordination of military and non-military forms of power never received any serious consideration. For these reasons it is perhaps unfortunate that some historians have spoken of him as a “military genius.” Nadir was a military adventurer. His boldness and courage were eclipsed by the way he sacrificed Iran's human and material resources for the satisfaction of his insatiable passions. Finally, a sixth factor that contributed to the weakness of Iran was fratricide and murder of rivals generally. In the absence of accepted principles governing succession to the throne, Iranian monarchs and royal families engaged in this practice from the reign of Shah Tahmasb (1524-76) to the establishment of the Qajar dynasty in 1794. To list a few examples, Ismail II put to death his two brothers for fear of their rivalry for the Crown. He then killed in one day six other princes. Shah Abbas the Great killed his eldest son and blinded two others. Nadir was succeeded by his nephew, who was murdered by his brother, who was in turn killed by the partisans of Nadir's grandson. The fratricidal activities of the Safav! monarchs were matched by similar practices among various tribal groups and dynastic factions claiming the Crown of Iran after the death of Nadir Shah and during the ensuing chaos. Nadir’s grandson, Shâhrukh Mirza, who was twice deposed and restored to the throne and blinded in the process, ruled only over Khorasan, while in Isfahan and Shiraz the struggle for the throne occupied some tribal groups. From these Karim Khan of the Zand clan first emerged as the de facto ruler of southern Iran, and by 1779 he practically ruled over all of the country except Khorasan. His short rule was followed by another series of fratricidal w ars which destroyed the strength of his dynasty, while his former prisoner, Agha Muhammad, of the Qajar tribe, was consolidating his control over Iran. He was the actual founder of the Qajar dynasty, which was the ruling dynasty at the time when Iran was drawn in to European power politics.

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