Adonis Diaries

Rainbow over the Levant: Expansion toward Palestine (fiction novel)

Posted on: October 16, 2008

Rainbow over the Levant

Expansion toward Palestine (continue 17)

The Viceroy of Safad in Palestine was feeling the heat and the approaching demise of his reign: he could no longer expect any fresh reinforcement from the Sultan of Egypt or any financial support because he was by tradition next to be replaced when a new Sultan would come to power.

Thus, the Viceroy of Safad engaged in diplomatic negotiations with the Levant government for a trade-off,  an infusion of direct financial aid to him personally in return for the right of the Levant government to collect taxes in the coastal region extending from Beirut south to Acre.

The Viceroy of Safad expected the same deal as ratified with the Viceroy of Tripoli five years ago but finally had to settle for 15% of the previous year’s collection.  The Sultan of Egypt recognized that peace and stability to his reign would best be served by a strong and honest leader in the Levant who never shirked on his deals and paid the tribute on time.

The Sultan figured that consecrating Antoun as the official Viceroy of Safad would strengthen his hold on the Levant by direct communications and obedience.

It would have been more natural for the First Emir Antoun to obtain the Viceroy-ship of Tripoli because Mount Lebanon was within the jurisdiction of Tripoli, but high politics was never the art of creating manageable responsibilities. Consequently, in addition of the Viceroy ship of Safad of Northern Palestine the Levant was also unofficially enjoying an implicit hegemony on the domains of both the Viceroys of Damascus and Tripoli.

Chapter 12

Administration of an intricate Nation

In the ten years since the success of the insurgency movement, the new nation of the Levant expanded from Homs and Tartus (North West part of current Syria) down to Galilee and Acre (North of Palestine) in the coastal southwestern shore.

The Eastern mountain range of the Bekaa Valley formed the eastern border of the new nation. The Bekaa Valley was the fertile land and the bread basket for the whole region.  The nation had about 400 kilometers of coastal shoreline with an average depth of 100 kilometers.  The area of the nation expanded more than 50 times immediately after the insurrection,to about 40,000 square kilometers. The mountainous eastern borders were defensible and the northern borders could be defended in many areas where the mountains were very close to the main seashore highway.

The only moot borders were in the south and the government exercised policies of the most favored kingdoms with in the southern kingdoms and Egypt. In order to alley any sense of fear from the Egyptian Monarch, policies of commercial and economic cooperation and steady diplomatic relations were established.

Actually, the populations under the formal authority of the government of the Levant were enjoying complete self determination and extended from Betroun to Tyr, and to the Eastern mountain chain for just a total superficies of 7,000 square miles.  The rest of the territory required the rubber stamp of the Viceroys in either Damascus or Tripoli for official documents and the indirect payment of the tributes to Cairo after being collected by the Levant government.

The Viceroy of Tripoli was still officially attached to and appointed by Cairo, but his authority was restricted to the city limit proper of Tripoli and could not raise an army or dispatch his guards outside the city limits.  Any Viceroy would have been glad to rule over a well delimited territory, but Mount Lebanon was like a magnate pulling over the population from the three neighboring Viceroys’ territories.

The government of the Levant had to respond accordingly and assume very intricate internal policies and continual time consuming negotiations with the official sovereigns.

In order to administer this Swiss cheese like amalgam of territories the Levant had to set up four administrative divisions in the finance ministry where tax collected would be disbursed either directly to Cairo or indirectly through the other two Viceroys in Tripoli and Damascus.  These endeavors were much trouble and sometimes intractable, but controlling the collection and disbursement of money was the critical mean against raising substantial armies by the neighboring Viceroys without the direct funding from the Sultans of Egypt or Turkey.

Since the Sultan of Egypt required a certain amount of tribute according to the traditional system, the remaining tax collected from the newer tax system reverted to the Levant Treasury.

First Emir Antoun learned quickly that in order to enhance the economy in one of his provinces he would have to lower the tax break in that province so that capital and investment would flock to it at the detriment of the higher tax break provinces.  He learned that the changing of tax breaks had to be done slowly, allowing long periods of stability and assimilation and also that this financial tool had to be adopted moderately and judiciously so that no suspicion of punishment might be conjectured.

 The internal security had three administrative divisions, one for the coastal cities, one for Mount Lebanon and the third for the territories not directly under the jurisprudence of Mount Lebanon proper.  Even the department of defense had two separate divisions, one for Mount Lebanon with a standing army not to interfere outside its borders and the other division for the auxiliary army in the territory not formally part of Mount Lebanon; the auxiliary army was responsible in assisting the internal security outside Mount Lebanon.

First, the First Emir decided that no visible army concentrations would be placed within 10 kilometers of the city limit proper of Tripoli, Damascus or Safad.

The soldiers of the auxiliary army would wear the same attire as the internal security forces outside Mount Lebanon as a face saving scheme to the respective Viceroys; the smaller but numerous army centers in the auxiliary territories were a mixture of army and internal security forces with the implicit main task of gathering intelligence and pacifying the populace with prompt interventions in securing security and justice.

For the southern region neighboring Egypt a unified center for coordinating intelligence services between the army and the internal security forces was decreed, firmly consolidated and established in Tyr.

Basically, every ministry had separate budgets for Mount Lebanon and the auxiliary territories which were self administered but centrally controlled.

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October 2008

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