Adonis Diaries

Types of history stories: Mount Lebanon case study

Posted on: November 26, 2008

Types of history stories: Mount Lebanon case study (November 26, 2008)

 Most history books are series of battle stories of who won and who lost, what were the causes for the initiation of the wars, which monarch was pleased and which ones were utterly frustrated, which century was mostly a military victory in the long-term, which decades experienced the plague and other infectious diseases that decimated a quarter of the population, who had the upper hand States or religious hierarchies, who were the “noble” figures and military geniuses in battles and in fortifying the forts, the adventurers who acquired whole continents for the throne simply by planting the flag of the monarch, and this sort of crappie stories.

If you are interested in serious stories on socio-political-cultural structures of civilizations and their development, you have to invest time researching, and dusting off voluminous manuscripts, (preferably for higher education degrees), and analyze the fundamentally biased contradictions among the scholarly treaties, a job that is outside your research purpose and in comparative literature.

This is a long sad history and I would rather develop on the case story of Mount Lebanon (barely 100 * 10 kms), a mountain region that is part of the State of Lebanon.

Not that this story is refreshingly magical, but because it tells the story of all the under-developed societies and current States waging frequent genocides and civil wars; (States that are obviously recognized by the United Nations).

I previously published a short essay on the various fallacies that were heaped on this majestic mountain chains and its brave and eternal people; please refer to that essay for further details.

Since time immemorial, Mount Lebanon was an ideal ecological place in weather conditions and abundance of fresh water.  Fruit trees and milk and honey and snow-covered mountain chains and virgin forest were trade marks of Mount Lebanon among all the invading Empires.

Mount Lebanon was a refuge and a sanctuary for the mystics and ascetics of most religious sects.  All kinds of sects and tribes have found refuge in Mount Lebanon, but it was not exclusively because of religious persecutions.

The inhabitants of Mount Lebanon are not a homogeneous ethnic group within sectarian differences. Mount Lebanon had experienced the absorption of many different ethnic tribes to serve the interests of the Empires that transferred entire tribes from various locations in their Empires to keep close control on the existing local tribes in occupied territories.

There were 3 major waves of Christian sects fleeing persecutions by other Christian sects who were affiliated to Byzantium with Constantinople as Capital.

These waves started in 325 during the Emperor Constantine, restarted around 400, culminated in the year 1,000 and then resumed around 1200.

The last wave caused the “Moslem” in the early 19th century was by extremist and salafist Wahabit sect, originating in the Arabia Desert of Najd, performing frequent razzias in and around Damascus in Syria. (The Oligarchy in Saudi Arabia is of this infamous sect).

The Druze Moslem sect members in Mount Lebanon were never refugees from no where. They lived in Mount Lebanon and were of various sects; they converted to the Fatimid Moslem sect who ruled Egypt for over a century around 950.

The Fatimid dynasty were fundamentally a Chiia sect (Moslems who refused a Moslem Caliphate, especially a Sunni Caliphate) and had Sufi tendencies and other esoteric beliefs.  During the Sunni Mameluke dynasties, Druze fled Aleppo to the Golan Heights and into Lebanon, but not necessarily to Mount Lebanon.

The Chiaa Moslem sect inhabited most of Mount Lebanon during the Omayyad Dynasty and ever since, in order to control the seashore from Byzantium navy incursions.  The Sunni Caliphates made it a trend to persecute the Chiia at every opportunity.  Many tribes from Turkmenistan, Persia, and Kurdistan were relocated in Mount Lebanon to balance the Chiia and keep them in check.  The Chiia were especially persecuted by the Ottoman since the Safavid Persian Dynasty got ascendance in the 16th century.

The Chiia tribes had no central religious authority and thus were not cohesive enough to share authority in Mount Lebanon with the Maronite and Druze in the last 3 centuries.

Mount Lebanon was mostly a social chaos of tribal rules with loose connections to a central authority of one of the multitudes of Empires through the paying of taxes and tribute.

A foreigner felt a sense of freedom but not liberty outside the tribe. Uprisings against the central authorities of the successive Empires were very rare, not locally initiated, and were quickly and easily repressed.

Mount Lebanon was never militarily impregnable by the forces of the Empires.

Mount Lebanon was relatively at peace because the local tribes did not make waves and were left alone as long as they paid the tributes and appropriate taxes.

Thus, Mount Lebanon was an ideal subject to central powers and was left undisturbed most of the time, except when local skirmishes necessitated local Emirs to support the Pashas of Damascus or Akka in men of war with their own armaments, mules, horses and supplies.

Mount Lebanon was never a whole entity socially, politically or administratively.

Mount Lebanon proper, as defined by the Maronite sect, comprised the high altitudes (Jroud) of the districts of Bshari, Betroun, and Jubeil.  Mount Lebanon was most of the times divided into, at least, 3 administrative provinces with capitals on the sea shore such as Tripoli, Beirut, Saida (Sidon), and Baalbak in the Bekaa Valley.

The “jroud” of the districts of Kesrwan, Metn, and Gharb were separate administratively from Mount Lebanon proper; the district of Shouf was also separate and belonged to the province of Saida.

Mount Lebanon is not the bedrock of communication among various ethnic and religious groups.

The more communication systems become easier, faster and more versatile, the more transport infra-structure develop, the more the tribal system in Mount Lebanon worsen from tribal into a caste system.

Current communities in Mount Lebanon have evolved to the worst; not only they are ferocious castes members but the number of officially recognized castes has jumped to 19 castes and increasing at each election or civil war.

Not only these castes are closed sects but they gained political powers in their self-autonomous officially unrecognized respective cantons.

The latest election laws are reflecting this dangerous trend for mini-state status.  Mount Lebanon is staunchly defying the entire set of hypothesis on “The World is shrinking into a village“.  Mount Lebanon is a proven case that village mentalities are defining the World.

Whereas the Maronite Christian sect enjoyed the better centralized religious authority since 1200, it has now disintegrated to the benefit of the other religious sects that are more united politically under their religious authorities, although not necessarily socially.

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November 2008

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