Power Struggles and Trade in the Gulf (1620-1820)

PREFACE Between the death of Nadir Shah, in 1747, and the establishment of the Qajar dynasty in 1795 there were 48 years of the Zand dynasty’s rule in Persia, during which time Gulf trade declined and European factories closed down in several ports. Historians have offered varied and insubstantial reasons for this decline. This book makes an attempt, through the detailed use of primary sources, to offer a more logical and more reasoned interpretation of these developments in place of the older, ill-founded arguments. In this book I argue that the prime cause of the decline in trade and the withdrawal of trading settlements from Bandar Abbas was the ‘commotions’, or power struggles in the region. On one hand was the struggle for overall control of Persia whose consequence was the ruin of trade. On the other, the disturbances in the area of Bandar Abbas, brought about by Mulla ‘Ali Shah, the Bana Ma`in Shaikh, Shaikh Rashid and the Charak Arabs, which were the main cause of the withdrawal from that port. The cessation of trading at Bandar Rig and Khark Island was caused by upheavals fomented by the local chieftain, Mir Muhanna. According to the English, the main cause of the withdrawal of their settlement from Bandar Rig was the conflict between Mir Muhanna and Karim Kh5n about Bandar Mg. But it was Mir Muhanna’s suspicion that the English were his enemies and that they were the allies of Karim Khan, the Persian ruler, which caused their expulsion. The Dutch, for their part, were expelled from Khark Island after they had joined forces with Bushire in attacking Mir Muhanna on the orders of Karim Khan. In Bushire the case was different. Although the English acted neutrally in the conflicts they could not evade the dangers. They had suffered losses at ivlir Muhanna’s hands but Karim Khan believed that the English were refusing to help him against the Mir. The anger of Karim Khan, his determin-ation not to receive the English in audience, and the fear that his brother, ZaId Khan, would detain the English Agent in Bushire all motivated the withdrawal of the English settlement from there. At last, when the Qajar dynasty took control of all the Persian provinces at the beginning of the 19th century, the value of English trade with Persia increased enormously. The correlation between political unrest and poor trading results is demonstrated step by step, and in detail.