Qara Iskander - The Calm Before the Storm (1420-1424)
Qara Yusuf had four sons Ispend, Iskander, Jahan Shah and Abu Sa’id . It was decided by the tribal leaders that Iskander should take control of the realm. There was discontent about this however as another tribe pushed Ispend forward as leader. In the end Iskander took control but the squabbling left the Black Sheep weakened.
Crowning of Iskander
Iskander was a good ruler. Brave, just and a skilled military leader. He wanted to prove this strength to the influential tribes and cement his place as leader.
As a child he had always despised the White Sheep or Ak Koyunlu. He really, really hated him. He didn't believe them fit to even share a border with the Black Sheep and now he had risen to rule the horde he had a chance to deal with them and prove himself to the tribes. Two birds with one stone. Iskander had a large army thanks to his father but he knew more could be done. He set about improving training methods personally and also sent spies to the Ak Koyunlu lands.
The fruits of Iskander's Labour
With the army better prepared to face the White Sheep menace Iskander waited for his spies. He also sent a letter to his brother Jahan Shah who had fled to Baghdad during the succession crisis asking him to return home for he had always like Jahan. Jahan however believed it was a trick and sent no reply.
Only a few days after this the spies from the White Sheep lands returned. They had reports of the Ak Koyunlu horde numbering only 8000 men and also that two buildings for tax collecters were under construction.
The White Sheep Horde
Iskander was not skilled at the day to day running of things. He was brave, a good tactiction and negotiator but to be blunt he was lazy. If a matter wasn't grand and important he wasn't interested. Never the less his advisors assured him that these ‘Tax Collectors’ should built in Kurdistan and Azerbaijan to take advantage of the great wealth of these provinces. Iskander just nodded and agreed in truth he had listened to little throughout the meeting.
Now Iskander was ready to strike. His horde poised. Soon the mighty army of the Kara Koyunlu would fall down upon the White Sheep. He ordered the Ak Koyunlu be informed of his declaration of war. Then a problem arose apparently there were none in his lands with sufficient training in diplomacy to travel to the White Sheep lands and inform the White Sheep without facing certain execution at their hands. A surprise attack occurred to Iskander but for some reason he decided against. He was furious. Such a little detail could ruin such grand plans.
Iskander arrived back at his tent and sighed. The attack would have to wait until next year. Until then of course the excess of food, wine and women would just have to do.
One year later when a diplomat was finally trained terrible news arrived. The White Sheep had allied with the Timurids! Iskander, in his despair, simply sat in his tent alone all day. The alliance meant any war with them would surely involve the Timurids and this was not a good thing. The Timurid empire at the time stretched from Tibriz all the way to the Indus and possibly further for the Black Sheep cartographers knew of nothing past this point. They could quite easily squash the Black Sheep like a bug but this was what the Qara Yusuf had made his pact with the Ottomans for.
Meeting of the Tribal Leaders
Iskander held a council with the tribal chiefs. They concluded that the combined strength of the Ottomans and the Black Sheep could destroy the White Sheep and conclude a white peace with the Timurids. Battle plans were made. The Ottomans would attack from the west while the Kara Koyunlu would hold firm until the Al Koyunlu were defeated. Then Attention could turn to the real fight – the Timurids. All but the major tribe from the Tibriz region agreed. The iron was hot and it was time to strike.
The Timurids were ready for any such war and the border was garrisoned lightly with men in the mountains. Iskander knew if he had to fight there many men may fall against even a small army and the Timurids had big ones (bigger then he would ever believe as it would turn out)
Timurids greedily eyeing up Tabriz
More men were trained. The leader of the horde, Salih, was sent to the Ottomans to tell them of the plan. The horde was moved further south ready to try and hold out against the Timurid storm while garrisions were trained and equipped to hold out in the north.
Iskander visited the southern provinces. As dusk fell he looked out over into the Timurid lands. The air was still and quiet. It seemed so peaceful. This was to be short lived. Soon the area would run red with blood.