By: Mir M.Hosseini
Sultan Ahmet Khan of the Ottoman Empire died on Nov, 22, 1617 shortly after appointing Khalil Pasha as the Grand Vezir of the Ottoman court who had gathered a massive army in Diyarbakir for a general assault on Iran.
The new Sultan Mustafa Khan considered peace with Iran and freed the Iranian envoy Ghasem Beyk who had been refused an audience by his deceased brother Sultan Ahmet and was kept in prison for two years. Sultan Mustafa sent him to the Iranian court with gifts and a new message of peace. But the Iranian envoy was again arrested in Diyarbakir by warmongering Ottoman generals, who wanted to sabotage such peace negotiations.
Shortly after, Mustafa Khan was dethroned and Sultan Ahmet's 12 year old son Osman was installed as the new puppet Sultan to the throne. In March 1618, an envoy was sent to the Safavid court. He was accepted by Shah Abbas in Qazvin in July, 1618 but the Ottoman terms for peace were not acceptable because they were threatening Iranians with their massive army, asking for tribute instead of leaving the Iranian soil. Shah Abbas in reply said that peace is only considered if the invading army left the Safavid territory.
When the Ottoman army marched towards Azarbaijan, Shah appointed Qaraqchay Beyk as the Sepahsalar of the Iranian army in charge of defending Azarbaijan. He was promoted to the important title of Khan. Qaraqchay Khan swiftly raided the areas around Erzurum and Van castles and destroyed some of logistics required for the massive invading army. Then civilians in Tabriz and villages around it were evacuated in order to minimize casualties. Fortifications were made in strongholds against the same notorious army that had ravaged Europe. Apart from skirmishes here and there, there weren't any serious engagements between the two armies until September 1618.
It was a complicated game of strategy and logistics that the two sides knew well. Shah Abbas planned to drag Ottomans deep inside the Iranian soil and blow a decisive victory, and mighty Ottomans were well aware of such a risk involved in engaging Kizilbash warriors.