Adonis Diaries

Rainbow over the Levant (continue 10)

Posted on: October 4, 2008

Chapter 5: The new regime (1375-1381)

A week after the success of the insurgency, Antoun gathered his warriors for a day meeting in order to discuss the implementation of agreements and the pact they signed on together. Legal, land, security and political committees were formed to recommend adjustment to grievances, recovering of lost properties and the right of return to the outlaws who wished to come back to their hometown or monetary reward to those preferring to remain in the mountains. It was also decided that the initial core of leaders and committee members would meet weekly as de facto government members for the first three months.

The most critical danger was the constant pressure on Antoun from the insurgents demanding to demobilize the current force of law and order of the ancient regime; the leader begged to differ and regarded the dismantlement of this internal security institution an appeal to chaos and a preparation from the disillusioned citizens to bloodshed.  The committee for security headed by Hanna Al Najjar maintained the former security force in place, raised the allowances of those who served with dedication and brought to court a few of those who committed grievous blemishes and blatant uncivil behavior.

Hanna established security centers in many corners of the county with duties to rescue the helpless, downtrodden and remotely isolated citizens.  His forces toured the streets at night in formal dresses and rushed at appeals of distress or warning dangers; order was to be installed and all citizens, nobles or poor, had to refrain from the use of physical force throughout the land.

Concentration villages

The temporary government hurriedly gathered the toppled Emirs and powerful landlords into two concentration villages far from the Capital Mtein and within the outlaws’ regions: all the Emirs and first level feudal lords were gathered in one tiny remote town under development in the high altitude, the second class of feudal lords and relatives of Emirs in another camping ground a mile to the main security garrison.  These special towns were in reality detention camps with few accesses, closely guarded, and had very limited communication with the outside world.  The two communities were allotted enough lands to cultivate and survive without much intervention from the outside and were allowed to govern themselves.  

Antoun believed that he was familiar with the basic psychology of the so-called noblemen and the differences among the first class and second class feudal nobles; he knew that the Emirs will not attempt to flee the town where they were incarcerated and will wait until they are freed with due honors as long as enough food are provided within a comfort level.  As for the second class nobles he directed the officer of the security garrison to perform routine visits to the camp and harshly punish any disobedience to regulations and even to put to public trials the most virulent elements among them; in fact, two feudal noblemen with minor influence were decapitated and peace was restored for a long time in that camp.

Antoun’s decision not to execute any of his former nemesis was founded mainly on the realization that the balance of power might require judicious use of a few of these former lords in order to maintain his grip on power; he also chiefly wished to relying on the internal feuds that these close quarters might generate among their honorable inhabitants. The main reason he offered for the leaders of the insurgency not to physically harm their captives were that “our mountain counties are not familiar with internal massacres which might upset the inhabitants and hinder their cooperation, especially that they represented important families in major towns.”  Indeed, Antoun looked favorably, in the first three months, on the requests of a few traders, dignitaries, and personalities to pay short visits to the sequestered noblemen in order to allay their fears and confirm his assurances for their safety and security.  Barhoum Bey was not spared confinement but was treated equally as honorably as his inferior colleagues in ranks.

Undercover agents were sent to these concentration camps and Noura was one of them with the avowed purpose to cure and care for the sick.  She paid them biweekly visits carrying her meager load of different herbs on an old mule and stayed overnight in each encampment. Noura empathized with the camp conditions of the less fortunate landlords who were reduced to practical slavery by the more influential Emirs through moral obligations by the old order.  These discontented noble men were a boon to Noura who gathered all the intelligence she needed on the social conditions and political upheaval emerging among these closed communities.

Another undercover agent was Gergis the middleman; he was a fixture in these confined communities given that he was granted the sole permit to organizing caravans for selling and trading goods and information.  This exclusive business grant offered Gergis the break for riches with the cooperation of Haim and a restricted select, now legitimate, contraband leaders associated with Antoun’s past activities.

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October 2008

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