Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Central Asia

“Library Antoine, Lebanon”, Antoine Naufal, Kamal Ataturk, French mandate over Lebanon (1919-1946)

A biographical book, published in French, was undertaken by Nayla, one of the 4 daughters of late Antoine Nawfal (father of the Girls) who died of cancer in 1981. The book was written by Nadia Anid.

Antoine Naufal established in 1933 the first branch of “Library Antoine” in Bab Idriss (Beirut) during the French mandate. This branch was demolished during the civil war. Another branch was opened in Hamra,  and lately in Ashrafieh.

The Library initially catered for school books, and focused mainly on French publications during and after the French mandate.

Antoine had a tough upbringing: The family had to flee from Turkey (the city of Mersin) during the dictatorship of Kamal Ataturk and relocated several times before settling in Lebanon.

After WWI, Ataturk started his antics and forced the settled Levantines to immigrate, by burning the Christian houses…The father Selim of the Naufal family (three boys and two girls) grabbed the few gold coins they had and waited for the train (run by the Germans) to take them to Alexandretta (Alexandrina).

Alexandretta was part of Syria and under the French mandated power. The Levantines thought that they were finally at peace, but France reneged on its responsibility and handed over Ataturk the region of Alexandretta in 1936.

The Naufal family had relocated to Lebanon in 1930, under duress from the nationalist Turks, and settled in the town of Baabdat (north Metn district).  Baabdat had many families who lived in Mersin and had returned to Lebanon.

Selim, father of Antoine, was a master tailor who practised in Marseille for a couple of years, and the family owned factories for weaving cottons and other kinds of cloths, and were living the grand bourgeois life-style.

Selim could never adapt to his Lebanese surrounding and kept repeating: “These cucumbers are no match to the ones in Misrine…while sipping on arak and nibbling on the mezze of vegetable on the table”

It happened that both major relocations took place during Christmas nights, as the turkey was readied to be served, before the fires started in the neighboring houses and in the house proper. Selim vowed: “From now on, I don’t want to see any turkey in the house...”

Kamal Ataturk had declared that “Turkey is for the Turks” and conducted campaigns to kick out from Turkey the Levantines (people from Syria and Lebanon), the Greeks, the Armenians, and basically anyone who was not a Moslem…

And who are the Turks?

They are nomads from the current State of Turkmenistan and its neighboring countries (Central Asia). These nomadic tribes coalesced under the leadership of a Seljuk Khan and defeated a large Byzantine army around the end of the 11th century and settled in the more fertile land of eastern Turkey.

The Seljuk opted for Konia as Capital and conquered Syria, Lebanon, and part of Palestine. They were the main forces who battled with the crusaders for two centuries.

Before and during the WWI, many families from Lebanon had settled in Turkey, and mainly in the prosperous city of Mersin and in Adana. Families like Khawli, Lahoud, Sayegh, Khalil, Saad (Habib Basha Saad was the first president of Lebanon during the mandate)…

Antoine once said: “I was never a child. I never had an anniversary or received any gift on special occasions. I was never called Tony. I was always Antoine, the elder son with the responsibility of taking care of the family…”

Antoine started working very early on and couldn’t finish his high school. He found a job at a library in Beirut (Librarie du Foyer) owned by Ernest Chehab who wouldn’t sell book banned by the Catholic Church, the old and the current ones…

One day, he discovered that shops in Bab Idriss,  on Patriarch Hoyek Street, were for rent at modicum prices: The street was plagued with a taboo of unlucky stories of chain bankruptcies…Antoine mother handed him the 250 pounds from her secret savings, unknown to the family…

Antoine used to bike to the nearest library competitors (like Bsalti, Bugnard…) to buy the unavailable books ordered by clients, and would return while the clients are perusing the books and the magazines…

(I recall many such zeal from Lebanese overseas: Hopping to get the required spare parts from competitors not available in their initial store…)

Antoine received the French medal of Legion d’Honneur in 1964: only 20 of his family members were to be invited, and the family counted 21 members…

His mother-in-law Nazha separated from her husband after Antoine married her daughter Della (for Adel). Consequently, Nazha cut-off the head of her husband from all the picture and would never mention his name, saying only: “He was a woolf

Note 1: You think that this book is a biography of Antoine Naufal, and it turned out to be the story of Nayla… Too many tangent stories about Samir Jaber, Georginia, Rashid Khoury, George Khoury…, just to describe the life-style in Lebanon and who frequented the library.

This book could be separated into three volumes: one on Antoine Naufal,  the second tome on the many stories related to the library and what took place within the library…and the third called “The story of Nayla“…I expected more pictures of the family, the house, the celebrations, the garden… and less about the devastation of the civil war: We have too many of these kinds of sorry pictures…

Note 2: The Seljuk dynasty was demolished by the Mogul Genghis Khan in 1220 after he entered the richest city of Bukhara on the silk road and continued his progress to conquer Turkey.  Mogul Genghis Khan established the vastest empire in the world stretching from China to Turkey, including all central Asia.

The grand son of Genghis Khan, Hulago, descended toward Iraq and burned Baghdad, killing the last Abbassid Calif, and putting an end to the Arabic empire in the east. The Arabic empire of the west, mainly in southern Spain and northern Africa was thriving and producing the best scientific research in all fields.

In 1097, the Spanish King Alphonse entered Toledo (in central Spain) and acquired about 60,000 Arabic volumes and hundreds of highly literate people who translated the Arabic culture into Latin. At that period, the largest library in Europe contained at best 100 books, mostly of no interest whatsoever.

Concise Political Islam; (Apr. 11, 2010)

            There were three major tendencies in Islam for resolving political conflicts and divergences; they functioned hand in hand in the first two centuries until the new converts to Islam from Central Asia and the Caucasus regions effectively began to control the political and military decisions of the central power in Baghdad around the 11th century:  The Abbassid Caliphates in the 10th century started to hire and rely heavily on the far away newer converts as military leaders and personal guards.  The new converts were much more interested in the personal stories of the Prophet Muhammad (hadith of what the prophet said and did) than the Coran; thus, they declared that the Coran cannot be interpreted or commented.  Self-autonomous provinces mushroomed in the vast Islamic Empire.

            The first category of divergent alternatives to social unrests was pure political violent acts and represented by the Khawarej (those who were supporting Ali and decided to walked away from a meeting in the battlefield as Ali accepted negotiation with Muawiya) and plotted to simply assassinate the imams and caliphs presumed not to follow the shari3a (the direction to go to the water source) or the correct laws and Islamic guidance. This archaic movement started before the assassination of the third Caliph Othman bin Affan and then followed by the assassination of the fourth appointed caliph Ali bin Abi Taleb.  Muawiya was targeted for assassination but he survived the attempt.

Many imams and caliphs were assassinated through the centuries up to now.  Most of the victims were the vulnerable and fragile imams who had no political backing or clout: a Moslem not satisfied with an imam’s advice or ruling on the correct behavior to adopt could be assassinated.

            The second category of contenders is related to the alternative order of justice (fiqeh) or the correct Islamic guidance in daily routine life.  Sunni or orthodox Islam is divided into four main schools of justices (ways to obeying the shari3a).  They are the Malekite (North Africa), Shafi3ite (Egypt), Hanbalite (Near East people), and the most obscurantist of all, the Hanafi (Wahhabi sect) of Saudi Arabia. 

The Shiaa sects that respect their imams as infallible are also divided into many schools but they dare interpret and comment everything in the Coran or hadith.

            The third category in divergences is the class of the intellectuals, physicians, scientists, astronomers (lumped as philosophers) and known as Mu3tazalat (rational thinkers who preferred middle solutions before gathering facts, analyzing the problem, and pondering on the consequences.)

The main split with the other categories is the critical problem: Is man’s behavior pre-set by God or is man fully responsible for his acts and actions?  The answer was “Man must be responsible for all his acts and should be using his brain (akl); otherwise, all evil actions would be attributed to God.”  This category of rational thinkers was backed by the emerging Abbasid Dynasty to discredit the Omayyad Dynasty. 

The first century of the Abbasid Dynasty witnessed full-scale translation of Indians, Persian, and ancient Greek manuscripts and culture that grew simultaneously with Islamic progresses in sciences such as in physics, medicines, astronomy, and mathematics.  The translation of foreign knowledge was done mainly by the Syriac scholars (of the many heretic Christian sects not abiding by the Orthodoxy dogma of Constantinople or Rome) residing in Syria and Lebanon.  The Indian manuscripts were translated by the Iranian scholars.  If the Renaissance Men of Europe could talk then they would acknowledge the sources of their knowledge.

            The turning point came when the new converts in Central Asia wanted to revert to the “sources” and believe word for word what was written in the Koran and the Hadith: interpretations were banned and philosophers were discredited and persecuted.  The Arab World had to wait for the middle of the 19th century to start a new revival in rational thinking.  The hot beds for this rival were Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Lebanon.

            The main sources for financing and planning terrorist acts and military coups up till 1975 were the US, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.  After 1975, the evil triangle of the US/Saudi monarchy/Israel have been planning, financing, training, and tele-guiding most of terrorist activities in the Middle East. 

After the first invasion of Iraq in 1991 by the US and its alliance then, it was the Saudi monarchy (fully backed by the US and Israel) that invested billions of dollars into disseminating its brand of obscurantist Wahhabi schools of justice or shari3a.  Thousands of Mosques were built and thousands of hired imams were preaching the exclusive Hanbali school of Islam.  Most of the fancy books (sold at cheap prices) were targeting the best techniques for the confinement of women in their residences and pressuring Arab and Moslem States from withholding to women their individual rights to voting, working, and acquiring education.  Al Qaeda and its many factions are the creation of the Saudi monarchy, financed and directed to target terrorist activities against rational thinking scholars, Moslems and Christians.

The long-term “Revenge of Geography”; (Oct. 30, 2009)

In ancient times, oceans, seas, high mountain chains, vast deserts, large rivers, and lakes formed natural barriers that separated settled tribes from nomadic ones.  Eventually, rivers were no longer major barriers for demographic explosions and warrior-like tribes; deserts were sort of conquered with caravans of camels by 2,000 BC that originated in Yemen; mountain chains could be overcome when the other side did not offer any worthy hardships for the wealth and bounty of fertile lands.  The Mediterranean Sea was the playground for commerce and trade of the Greeks, Phoenician City-States of Sidon, Tyr, and Byblos; later Carthage, the Roman Empire, and the Byzantium Empire conquered this sea.  Major oceans were criss-crossed by the gigantic Chinese fleet as early as 1000 AC that reached the Arabic Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.  By the 15th century, Portugal and then Spain conquered the Pacific and then the Atlantic and started the colonial period that lasted five centuries and is still going on under different labels and forms.

“It is man who has the power to create; it is nature that commands to a large extent” said Harold Mackinder in 1904.  To Mackinder, the “Heartland zone” of earth is that vast land forming Russia, Central Asia, and parts of Central Europe.  All imperial military and economic strategies such as the British and the USA were based on encircling this “heartland” with military and trade zones. 

Russia was plagued by invasions from Mongolia and Central Asia and thus, to create durable buffer zones Russia countered by expanding into that “heartland” toward Siberia in the East, Central Asia toward Turkey and Iran, and then toward Central Europe in the West.  China also suffered from relentless invasions from Mongolia and the south east civilizations and endeavored to expand westward into Tibet and Central Asia and southward into South-East Asia.  Europe turned overseas since the 15th century to open up and conquer trade implants and then colonize the bordering regions around the “pivotal heartland”.  The 13 federated states in America expanded to the Pacific Ocean and toward Mexico.

Along the borders of the “Heartland pivot land” there are natural blocks of lands such as the South-East (from Vietnam to Burma or Maynamar with their jungles); the Indian sub-continent with the Himalaya and the Indo-Kouch mountain chains which include all of current Pakistan, then you have Iran that includes all of Afghanistan, then you have Turkey and the Caucasus. That is how the 21st century is looking like when all is settled.

The main power will reside on who control the sources of the major rivers.  China has conquered Tibet because three main rivers take their sources from the Himalaya mountain chains; mainly the Mekong (that flow into the South East), the Indus (that flow in Pakistan), and the Brahmapoutre that flow in India and join the Gange River.  China has already built 86,000 dams along the Blue and Yellow Rivers that take sources on the western plateaus; China has not consulted with the South East countries and has already built four mega dams on the Mekong, including two huge lakes that will take about 10 years to fill in order to generate hydraulic power.

Turkey controls two huge rivers the Euphrates and the Tiger that flow in Syria and Iraq.  Turkey has been building dams on these rivers without consulting with the southern neighboring States.  Ethiopia is in control of the Nile if it wishes to.  The US has been building dams along rivers that flow into Mexico.

The USA would like you to believe that there are no natural borders for its military might. That is not a half truth; it is a lie and a psychological propaganda.  Planes, missiles, tanks, and navy do not conquer lands: it is the walking soldier that does this job in order to retain any conquered land. If there is the will to resist in a rough geographic landscape then there can be no conquest. The US used all kinds of defoliate gas (Orange gas) in the jungles of Vietnam but it had to declare defeat and retreat in total chaos; it is already preparing plans to retreat from Afghanistan; it gave up rapidly after the first major skirmish in Somalia.  If the US managed to enter Baghdad it is because there was no will to resist by the people: they wanted to get rid of despot Saddam Hussein; the US is packing up and leaving next year after pressuring the Iraqis to sign an agreement.

Yes, we are witnessing the era of “Anthropocene” which means man is doing more damages to the environment than nature can stabilize but the main reality is there to account for: sources of water.  China, Turkey, Russia, USA, and Brazil control sources of major rivers.  The main struggle in the medium-term is who will control the Nile, the Congo, and Niger Rivers in Africa. Water desalination of Oceans and the towing of icebergs will do for a while but cannot resolve a long-term problem in water shortages.  Actually, huge displacement of people from megapolis to near water sources will have to be undertaken because of the huge investment of supplying water to big urban cities and in order to recover sub-terrain naps and natural ecosystems.

Nomads or the transmitters of civilizations; (September 5, 2009)

There are several types of nomadic tribes that can be differentiated along their line of business or trade and the climate environment of hot or cold.

There are tribes specialized in raising camels, lamas, or horses; tribes initiating caravans, transferring to other routes; tribes transporting goods within a territory; tribes relaying (subcontractors) caravans to other territories, and family/clan caravans transporting goods from point of dispatch to final destinations.

You have nomadic tribes hired to safeguard borders in rough areas; tribes specialized in securing safe passages to caravans in the resting stations and supplying water and urgent wants; tribes specialized in gathering intelligence in strategic regions and constitute the primary sources of impending troubles among Kingdoms; and tribes hired to guide troops.

Leaders of caravans are voracious intelligence gatherers: they need to know, even before undertaking their long journey with their expensive cargo: They want to know what are the political status and social unrest in every territory they have to cross.  Leaders of caravans are the best field managers and administrators and generally end up field commanders in periods of wars.  Caravan leaders learn to be great negotiators, flexible with all kinds of culture, customs, and idiosyncrasies; they acquire this “six sense” for comprehending people’s characters and behaviors for the best return on their business.

Family/clan caravan leaders are the best transmitters of civilizations with the most potential to survive downturns in commerce and among belligerent environments.  During wars, family/clan caravan leaders transport what kingdoms want and need and they supply demands.  They disseminate dialects, opinions, new techniques, and fashion.  Nomad women have first selection in matter of fashion; if you don’t believe my proposition then run it on your wife.

Mercenary nomadic tribes, hired during war periods, turn out to be the worst enemy for urban centers during and after wars finishes. The looting and razzias excursions have exacerbated the bad connotations of nomadic life style.  In general, nomadic tribes prefer weak central governments in neighboring kingdom to gain privileges and wider latitude for freedom of actions.  That is why the concept of distrusting nomads’ pledges might be truer to the nature of their existence for survival.

The tribes in Yemen and the southern Arabic Peninsula were the first to domesticate camels; first for the milk and then for caravan route, and then for war excursions.  They initiated or dispatched caravans of incense (exploited from their special trees), myrrh, and precious stones that they received from India.  The tribes in the towns of Mecca and Yathreb (Medina) were subcontractors or relayed caravans arriving from Yemen; the Nabatean tribes of Petra controlled the trade along the “King Road” from Damascus to Aqaba on the Red Sea.  The tribes in northern Arabic Peninsula and northern Syria were borders’ guards, resting stations suppliers, and intelligence gatherers among the various powerful kingdoms.

The Prophet Muhammad ran caravans from Mecca to Damascus and Basra in southern Iraq.  The powerful tribes of Mecca generated the most valuable military commanders and governors of districts during the first expansion of the Arabic Empire and ended up heading dynasties.

When speaking of nomads, people might think of the nomadic tribes in the Arabic Peninsula or the Sahara, mainly the hot climate desert nomads.  My contention is that the most potent transmitters of civilizations of China, India, and Persia are the nomadic tribes of the cold climate of Central Asia stretching from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the Caucasus regions.  It is these cold climate desert tribes that formed the backbones of all mercenary armies of ancient and the Middle Age Empires and who transmitted the slow process of civilization assimilation and dissemination as they were disbanded once wars ended among Empires.

It is these cold climate tribes that constituted the modern lucrative caravans along the “Silk Road” and mountain chains passages. The leaders of the cold weather caravans ended up the most valuable commanders and governors of provinces during and after the Arabic Abbasid Empires, in Persia, and in the Ottoman Empire.

Academic researchers demand to rely on the written documents to ponder upon, instead of reflecting when documents are not available. Nomadic tribes disseminated civilizations verbally, by communication, by story telling, around camp fires, by negotiating, by gathering intelligence and information. They also transmitted civilizations by transporting books, manuscripts, letters, and all kinds of written materials. It is unfortunate that this line of research is not taking off.

Persia/Iran Empires (Part 1, February 21, 2009)

Iran is strategically located within major rivers or beds of civilizations. 

On the Western borders, it enjoyed the civilizations of the Tiger and the Euphrates Rivers (current Iraq), on the eastern borders it was in contact with the Indus River civilizations (current, Afghanistan,  Pakistan and India), on the northern borders it was linked to the Amou Daria River and the Central Asian Rivers civilizations, and in the south it has the sea, facing the Arabic Peninsula.  

Depending on the period of neighboring power influences, Iran was the deep country supplying manpower, complementary skills, and soldiers. For example, Afghanistan was frequently part of the various Persian Empires that extended to the Indus, to Turkey, and even into Egypt.

The Persian language dominated the cultures of all this vast Empire. 

Currently, variants of the Persian language are spoken in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

Generally, most of the Persian Empires started from south-east Iran, a mostly desert region that extended to the Indus.

Later, the Empires expanded to greener pastures:  To the west toward Iraq (Elam in antiquity or Khuzistan today), to the north (Parthia, Khorassan, and Central Asia), to the east toward Afghanistan and India, and to the north-west toward Turkey, and Armenia..

After the Babylonian and Assyrian Empires, the various Persian Empires dominated Iraq.  The Arab Moslem Empire dominated Iran militarily for less than three centuries, but the Persian civilization and customs dominated the political and cultural landscape in Iraq and Afghanistan during and after the Abbasid Dynasty. 

The newly built city of Baghdad around 765 by the Abbasid Dynasty was very close to Persia’s main Capital Ctesiphon by the Tiger River.

Three main Persian Empires lasted long enough to leave powerful imprint on the geo-cultural landscape in this area. 

The Achaemenid Dynasty (1000 to 331 BC) was vanquished by Alexander of Macedonia; the Sassanid Dynasty (240 to 650 AC) was vanquished by the Moslem Arabs; and the Safavid Dynasty (1500 to 1722 AC) before our modern times.

The Ottoman Empire checked the Safavid expansion toward Turkey, especially because the Safavid Dynasty was mainly of Turkish origin from the Caspian Sea.

The Afghan invasion put an end to its effective authority. The various Mogul Dynasties extended their influence from Iran to India before the British colonizers ruled.

Who are we, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea shores? (March 1, 2008)

I have this theory, backed by historical accounts and substantiated by archaeological and ontological finding, that the Near East has been the crossroad for the innumerable waves of immigration from East to West and to a lesser extent from Eastern Africa via Egypt.

This is a valid hypothesis that could be adopted as an alternative direction and guide to studying our people.

I consider the first premise that most locations had their own indigents for various reasons going far back to thousands of years. This premise is only just, logical and convenient.

I also offer the second premise that emigrants prefer moving toward areas with abundance of water and greener pastures. The successive waves of immigration have started in full bloom before the 7th millennial of our calendar.

 People from Central Asia tended to march towards Northern Iran and the Turkey Anatolian plateau rich in rivers and water reserves from the melting of snow covered mountains.

The populations in Iran were inclined to settle the shores of the great Tigris River (Dujlah) in Iraq. From there they forked either south along the mighty river or northward.

Moving south was initially the preferred route because the climate is warmer and because it is almost impossible to navigate upward the Tigris River in its northern section.  They settled and built the ancient and mighty Empires around Ur and Basra on the mouth of the Tigris River that empties in the Arabic Gulf and then they expanded along the Arabian Gulf shores; these ancient Empires constituted the trading centers from the Arabian Gulf to the coasts of the Western Indian Ocean.

The Prophet Abraham is said to have moved out with his tribe from the great city of Ur toward greener pastures and most probably south-west along the Red Sea coast. Later, the mighty Empire of Babylon based its capital further north of Ur on the Tigris River.

Aramaic was the main mother language with various dialects for each region because Iraq was the hotbed of civilization for over 4 millennial before Christ, starting by the kingdoms of Sumer, Akad, Babylonia and Ashur.

All the regions from Iran, Kurdistan, the Arabic peninsula, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the western part of Turkey were under the hegemony of either one of these empires; the main religion and Gods, and the same manner of trading and doing business and administrations were homogeneous.

Moving north the Tigris River the hardy immigrants settled and built mighty Empires like Assyria in Nineveh (Ninawa) around Mosul and in the current Kurdish homeland.

Those immigrants who moved north the river overflowed to the Anatolian Plateaus in Turkey and settled along the mighty Euphrates River (Al Furat) and built the Hittite Empire that discovered iron and invaded Egypt, where they were called the Hyksos, and settled there for a long time until they signed a peace treaty with Ramses II.

It is known that prosperous Troy was vanquished by the Greeks, after ten years of siege, because the Hittite Empire was endeavoring at that junction to reach the sea and thus aided the Greek invaders to destroy their natural enemy.  The more recent power coming from the Anatolian plateau that conquered the Middle East is the Ottoman Empire.

The waves of immigration descended along the Euphrates River and jointed the Oronte River (Al Assy) and built many cities along these rivers and many reached the Mediterranean Sea.

It is known that the Oronte and Euphrates shores were studded with numerous large and prosperous cities like Homs, Hama, Tel Amarna, Van, and Mary because it was the preferred land trade route towards Iraq, Persia and ultimately China.

The alternative more direct route was through the Syrian Desert passing by Palmyra (Tadmor) but it was way too harsh and inconvenient.

Actually, almost all invasions coming from further East and North used this corridor to loot and conquer Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and ultimately Egypt. All these immigrants might have initially fled from persecutions and tribal warfare and also because of changing weather conditions and draughts.

The waves coming from Eastern Africa settled first in Egypt and fled for many reasons to the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea toward the Maghreb regions and also to the eastern shores and settled in the sea cities of Canaan that includes Palestine, and Lebanon.

A large number had to emigrate very often from the cities of Canaan after repeated invasions of the Moguls, Persian, Iraqi, and Egyptian Empires; these Empires made it a routine to invade and loot the rich Canaan cities for their accumulated treasures and for their skilled workers.

All these immigrants ended up in Syria and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea of Canaan and some settled in Egypt.

The ancient city of Byblos extended its civilization and built the cities of Sidon and Beirut and other sea towns and invented a new alphabet of 22 letters.  Sidon built Tyr and Akka.

As the Empires in Iraq, Persia, and Egypt invaded these cities the settled inhabitants of these prosperous seashore cities had to immigrate again to the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

They built trading posts all around this sea promoting commerce and exercising their own brand of beliefs and traditions. Tyr, under Elissa, simultaneously built Carthage in Tunisia and Cadis (Cadesh) in Spain, thus controlling the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean.

Carthage aimed for a higher level of trade by taking hold of the strategic isthmuses in the Mediterranean Sea such as Messina, Sicily and the strait of Gibraltar that leads to Portugal, Britain and Ireland so that no maritime commerce could be undertaken without landing in one of their “contoires” or trading posts. Carthage then conquered most of the islands like Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, and Sicily and settled in southern Spain.

The Phoenicians dominated all the Mediterranean Sea trade for over one thousand years.  The maritime power of their Greek competitor had been destroyed by invasions coming from the north and left the Phoenicians masters of the sea.  The barons of this tertiary industry or the commissioning of maritime and even land transports of goods from one producing country to consuming countries were located in either Tyr or Sidon.

These barons hired rammers and soldiers and workers from all over the region and had also their own sophisticated depots and handled the transactions from beginning to end and exported contracting jobs and skilled workers.  The main Phoenician cities, and especially Tyr and Sidon, concentrated on the secondary industries where semi finished goods were transformed into quality products.

The Phoenicians applied the current colonial trade strategies thousands of years ago without the backing of indigenous military power such as the Greek and especially the Roman Empires.

It is worth mentioning that the Canaanite entrepreneurs didn’t focus much on the artistic part in their culture or in their constructions during periods of autonomy but lavished their ingenuity when they were under the domination of powerful Empires so that they could rely on “State funding” for great and beautiful monuments.

The Arab Islamic conquest of this region didn’t contribute much in the numbers of immigrants since the Arabian Peninsula was scarcely populated and the glory of this Empire in the sciences, medicine and the translation of ancient cultures were rooted first on the scholars in Syria and Lebanon during the Umayyad dynasty, then the Persians during the Abbasid dynasty and the various dynasties that ruled Spain and mainly Andalusia.

Thus, the main inhabitants of northern Africa, Spain, the southern parts of France and Italy and the eastern countries of the Mediterranean Sea are essentially immigrants from Central Asia, Iran, East Africa and Egypt after having settled in Canaan for several centuries.  

The wave of immigration were East to West except in few periods were the skilled workers were transferred under duress by conquering Monarchs to build new emerging capitals by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and Genkis Khan the Mogul.

I tend to consider that the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea that includes Greece and northern Turkey were mostly immigration waves coming from Eastern Europe but the culture, the religions, and the trades were mainly the endeavors of the Canaan’s population, of which the Phoenicians are the famously known mariners and comprador traders.

The current Christian residents of Mount Lebanon are a mixture of two big waves of immigration: 

The first wave occurred after the conclave of Nicee in 325.  In that epoch, the new friend of the Christians, Emperor Constantine, who lived as a pagan most of his life summoned to the conclave all the bishops.   This major event transformed drastically the Christian doctrine and dogma as well as the church institution.

The conclave decided by a slight majority to confer divine nature to Jesus, declared his mother Mary a virgin, selected only four Books to represent the New Testament as orthodox and banished the hundreds alternative versions that were available at the time and banished women from the clergy institution and ordered the bishops to done luxurious attire and then gradually introduced the pagan symbols to lure in the pagans to the newly adopted religion and gave the pagan festivities Christian meanings and connotations.

Most of the so-called heretic Christian sects that were comfortable with the temporal nature of Jesus and Mary and had their selected preferred versions of the New Testament had to flee persecutions to inaccessible mountains.  Those living in Turkey moved to the Anatolian Plateau, Kurdistan, Armenia and the Caucasus and those in Syria and Palestine moved to Mount Lebanon.

The second major modern wave of immigration occurred since the Mameluks dynasties came to power in Egypt.  The Mameluk Empire had dislodged the last remaining Crusaders’ strongholds and stopped the drive of the Mogul invasion in Palestine. I believe that the new fundamentalist converts to Islam in Central Asia and Kurdistan, the regions of which the Mameluks originated from, exercised great zeal to chasing out the numerous Christian sects.  Mount Lebanon was a refuge for these Christian immigrants and the archeological finds show that women wore multi layers of colorful dresses as currently wore in these remote regions. 

This natural Nation, comprised of the current States of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, is self-contained; self sufficient and well delimited by natural borders but was never able to constitute an independent political entity in modern time.

This natural Nation by any criteria of what define a Nation simply was opened to the expansion of far more populous Nations under highly centralized governments on all its borders and because it proved to be a major crossroad for immigration westward.  It is the case even today at a more accelerated pace after the US invasion of Iraq and the strategic plan of the US to controlling the Greater Middle East in a Pax Americana.

Note: Before the Arab hegemony that started in around the year 640 almost all the family names and cities were Aramaic or having Aramaic roots.  The fourth caliph, Imam Ali, once wrote that his ancestors before “Kusai” had Aramaic names and that his tribe Kuraich (an Aramaic name) came from “Kawssa” nearby current Kufa in Iraq.

The Aramaic language survived the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods until way into the Arabic period.  The Arab language, the language of the Koran, is basically a branch of Aramaic and the spoken Arab is a dialect. It is well known that Christ spoke Aramaic and before Jesus died on the crucifix he addressed his God Eely for abandoning him to his destiny.

Eel was the name of the Aramaic God and not Jehovah, a tribal God, of the strict Jews in Judea. The Koran uses an Aramaic root for Eel such as Elle and Allah.


adonis49

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