Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘history

History of whaling expeditions and industry, the Essex ship, Moby Dick, Herman Melville

I watched a documentary on ARTE on the US Whaling expeditions and industry that started around 1780 and effectively bloomed in 1797 after discovering a new kind of whale, the Whale Sperms, with exceptional oil quality (of sperm consistency and located in the skull) for lighting lamps.

People in the Nantucket have been harvesting the whales that came ashore for centuries, before the arrival of the European colons to the Americas. The Quakers were the most active in hunting for whales close to the seashore, and it was done as a divine undertaking.

By the end of the 18th century, the American colons were venturing far away in the Atlantic, hunting for whales, and the Quakers improved their skills in fabricating harpoons and building whaling ships for storing the fat and oil extracted from whales, while at sea. About 50% of the oil were exported to England and North American colonies expanded their wealth, due mainly from the whaling industry.

The American whaling ships were the most advanced at the time. The British noticed the presence of the American whaling mariners everywhere they ventured for whale hunting, even to the deep arctic and antarctic poles.

The war of independence from England slowed down this industry and most of the ships were destroyed and the colonies could not export the surplus oil. After independence, the whaling industry shifted to Connecticut, and the port of New Bridgeport in particular.

By 1850, the whaling industry was at its zenith and New Bridgeport was the capital of this industry. The city had invested $70 million in infrastructure and had over 300 modern whaling ships, 20,000 people navigating the oceans for many years at a stretch, mostly in the pacific Oceans. The whaling ship would not return before storing about 200 tons of oil. Over 70,000 people lived from this industry.

In 1819, the whaling Essex reached the pacific with about 30 mariners. The ship needed 60 more tons of oil before returning home.  The biggest male whale of about 35 meters shook the ship as an earthquake and then came back with double speed and split the ship in two. The boarded safely in three whaling canoes, but they had to row thousands of miles to the nearest shore.

They could have landed in Tahiti, but they preferred another direction to avoid the man-eating “savages” of the islands. Only 5 from Nantucket were eventually saved: the remaining (all blacks) were eaten by their comrades in order to survive.  Later, Captain Pullock ended up taking the job of a night guard in the city, and every November, he would go on a celebration binge for surviving a certain death.

The account of this horror story inspired Melville in his novels, particularly Moby Dick.

At the age of 23, Herman Melville boarded a whaling ship and spent 3 years on whaling ships and jumped ships 3 times. Once, Herman decided to jump ship at one of the islands known for cannibalism and he related his experience in a novel.

In 1851, Melville (32 of age) published Moby Dick and he was convinced that he has written his life master work. To his surprise, the book was a flop. Why?

One account is that the American public was more interested in “going west” stories. This is doubtful: the first adventure of expanding westward was a total fiasco. The real going west myths happened shortly before the civil war in 1861 and in earnest after war in order to satisfy the thousands of soldiers out of a job and unemployed.

The most probable reason was that the whaling industry did its best not to propagate this book that described in minute details the horrors of the whaling jobs: The worst job that mankind could have contemplated.

After a whale is spotted, canoes holding ten people row for miles toward the whale. If they are lucky and the whale is practically peaceful and still, a harpoon is launched and the whale remorques the canoe for days until he feels weak. The captain of the canoe takes on the honor of stabbing the whale repeatedly in the lung area: It is not possible to pierce the heavy skull or reach the heart deep in the body.

When the whale start ejecting plumes of blood, he is near death and start circling the canoe in ever tighter circles. The next harder task is to trail this big fish to the mother ship. Once there, the mariners have to work 24/24 hours for many days in order to remove the fat. A large a deep hole is perforated in the skull to remove the precious oil.

The ship is now flooded with fat and blood. The fat is sliced and dropped in cauldrons. Some of the calcified fat is reused instead of wood for heating.  The dark and stinky fumes invade and envelop the ship and the environs for days. And the ship has to be cleaned…

Studies revealed that the whaling job exhibited the same emotional and psychological traumas as soldiers in active fighting engagement.

Melville described and covered the new extreme capitalist behavior of the USA at the period.

Melville desisted from now on to writing. Only at his centennial, did Moby Dick received its due honor and appreciation.

On his death, Melville left this note: “Never relinquish the dream of youth

In 1857, oil was discovered in Pennsylvania, and whaling for just oil was no longer profitable.

The civil war struck a heavy blow to this industry: Most of the ships were wrecked to form barriers.

It is estimated that before WWI, 250,000 whales were massacred. This number is the top of the iceberg compared to the systematic modern whaling industry.

After WWI, New Bridgeport launched the last whaling ship, which was immediately wrecked by a storm on the shore.

Mind you that the old wealth of New Bridgeport invested on the railway to the west and the new oil industries…

Old wealth accumulated for centuries from all the suffering, miseries and death of the whaling industry… Just to service fucking oil lamps.

An entire century for Nothing: Nothing to show for in the Middle-East

Since 1918, after WWI, and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the partition of its territories, the Arab people developed high hopes for independence…Only to be subjugated by the western colonial mandated powers of France and England.

France and England had decided to split the Arab territories among them in 1916, way before the war ended in 1918,  France was to be mandated over Syria and Lebanon, and England over Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. England was governing Egypt since 1988.

France dispatched troops, commanded by General Gouraud, to militarily crush in 1920 the first Syrian independent State under Faisal of Hijaz.  Syria defense minister Yussof Al Azmeh knew full well the imbalance between the two forces, but he decided to take a stand: “The worst shame is not to even try to confront aggression…”

Worse, England promised a Jewish State in Palestine in 1917, a document that the new Communist Bolshevik revolution divulged to the world. The US, the Soviet Union, France and England voted in 1947 to partition Palestine into two States: Jewish and Palestinians. Though the Palestinians represented 60% of the total population living in Palestine, they were offered only 40% of the land.  An unfair partition that they refused.

Israel imported weapons from the Soviet Union via Czechoslovakia and defeated the haphazard Arab armies in 1948. The armistice was to resolve and find a “definitive solution” to the Palestinian case.

After Israel was voted in as a Sate by the UN in 1948, Israel resumed the war and committed genocides to pressure the Palestinians to vacate their villages and conquered more lands.  Up to this date, 2012, Israel is still proceeding to transfer all Palestinians from all Palestine.

The 50 and 60’s witnessed a series of military coup d’etat in Syria and Iraq.

After Nasser of Egypt managed to nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, he was viewed as the sole legitimate leader of the Arab States. Governments of Arab States flocked to Egypt to demand unity with Egypt under Abdel Nasser in order to stop the rapid successions of unstable rules, and have a legitimate President, by popular demand.  Nasser could unsettle any government by just taking the radio airwaves and dictating his wishes…

The north Yemeni government, visiting Nasser for discussion, was put in prison under the pretense that the Prime Minister Mohsen Al Aini was a Baathist. Nasser would not deal with political parties, within or outside in the Arab World.

After Nasser, the Arab States were ruled by dictators and absolute monarchs for many decades, such as Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad, Qadhafi, Bourguiba of Tunisia, Algeria of Boumedyen, and Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Jordan absolute monarchies…

If you read the documents and Arab newspapers in the 20 and 30’s you realize how the Arab People and their intelligentsia were far literate, had comprehensive knowledge, read a lot and were far more aware of the dangers…than our current generation. There were plenty of political parties and they did discuss issues very extensively.

A century later, the discussions are rare, replaced by banners, posters, short sentences, slogans, no ideas developed and commented…

Each one of the successive 5 generations vowed that:

This generation will be different from the older obsolete generation. This generation will see to it that true independence from foreign powers and true self-autonomy will be accomplished. This generation will defeat Israel and return the Palestinian refugees in their State back to Palestine. This generation will establish democracy, freedom of expression, freedom of gathering…This generation will set the feet of Arabs on the Moon and compete technologically with the western nations…”

Every generation got more and more impatient, more edgy, more humiliated, and more inclined for military resolution to their problems…This time around, the war will settle the entire problem, once for all, only to be defeated in no time, and another round of military coup to replace the previous lousy one…

Every generation experienced worse kinds of indignities, subjugation  repressions, humiliation, and getting poorer and poorer, standard of living diminishing by generation, as the birth rate exploded, and the destitute searching for a loaf of bread before going to bed…

An entire century has gone in flame, a total waste, people in abject indignities, totally disoriented…

If the US thinks that the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers is an unfathomable terror, it must rethink its foreign policies in the Middle-East: A retribution for a buckled century is tearing at the heart and mind of the Arab people.

It had crossed the mind of Israel to attack the Twin Towers even in the 70’s, if the US failed to totally support their policies.  The idea of attacking the Twin Towers by commercial airplanes was not new. And the idea was disseminated to many groups, and the underground of World Trade Center was bombing in 1998.

The total impunity that Israel enjoys from its continuous apartheid system, and constantly covered by the US in the last 6 decades, is not a small matter to ignore and blame terrorism on radical obscurantist Moslems…

The Arab Spring uprising was targeting the little people around the world since the traditional western media refused to cover the real story in the Arab World, and preferred to wallow and sink deeper in the same frame of mind, of doubting the potential of the “Arabs” for progress, development, mass peaceful democratic movements…

Unless the international community demonstrates justice and fairness in dealing with the Arab people, “terror” attacks by radical jihadists will resume unabated  regardless of many times military drones are dispatched to decimate Al Qaeda leaders.

Note: Jean Lacouture in “A century for nothing” recounts his meeting with General Giap, the leader who defeated both the French and US forces in Viet Nam. Asking his opinion on the 9/11 attacks, Giap reflected for a while and said: “Interesting. The US is indeed vulnerable. Never crossed my mind…”

Attacking inside US territory never crossed the mind of Giap for good reasons: The people in North Viet Nam were united under one resistance national movement, had a homogeneous culture, they enjoyed the backing of another superpower the Soviet Unions, and they have already defeated the French armies, and were confident to beat the US invasion…

General Giap had all the necessary connections from many groups who high-jacked planes and conducted “terrorist attacks”, and the US of the 70’s was wide open to all immigrants and very lenient and welcoming...Giap could have transferred violent activities to inside the US, but it never crossed his mind…for good reasons.

“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.

What direct advantages “Arab Spring” infused in the region?

This article will focus on the first and biggest advantage that the “Arab Spring” infused in the Arab/Islamic States: It is the serious pitting of the three other Sunni sect (Chafi3i (Egypt), Maliki (North Africa), and Hanafi (Syria)) against the radical, salafist, and obscurantist Wahabi sect called Hambali (7ambali) in Saudi Arabia.

Before the Arab uprising, Saudi Arabia had undertaking a vast campaign since 1980 of exporting its obscurantist brand of religious sect (Wahhabi Hanbali) to all the Arabic and Islamic States, infusing billion of dollars, constructing mosques, and hiring its brand of clerics to preach on Friday prayers.

The States of oligarchies and dictatorship cared about the money coming in and the support of the USA…

After the revolutions, the people in all the States with relatively moderate Islamic sects, not compatible with the Saudi Arabia brand, woke up from this serious infiltration and are vehemently confronting Saudi Arabia meddling in their religion and with determination.

The various Moslem Brotherhoods in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria are counter-attacking Saudi Arabia absolute monarchy that is buying off the spirit and soul of their Islamic belief system.

For example,

1.  Abd Fattah Moro, the leader of Tunisia “Al Nahda” Moslem Brotherhood in power said: “In Tunisia we have the Maliki religion, unifying our country, and it is a destabilizing factor for the foreign Hanbali sect to try to proselytize here…”

2. In Egypt, Sheikh Al Azjar said: “We have to keep a large distance with this “desert sect” imported from Saudi Arabia by the radical salafist movement of Al Nour…”

3. In Syria, the insurgents in Aleppo said: “We have scores of jihadists coming from everywhere to support our revolution. We were impressed of their initial large aura of valiant fighters from Al Qaeda. At the first bombing of the jet fighters and salves of tanks from the army, they instantly fled to Turkey, leaving us to fend for our life. Good riddance. They were of no value to us in Syria…”

And what the Wahabi sect is based on?

1. Moslems are prohibited to undertake any pilgrimage, except to Mekka, and to a lesser extent Medina. Pilgrimages to Holy figures and tombs (awliya2, makamat…) are apostasy and counter to true Islam faith… Consequently, all Islamic salafist movements who came to power (Libya, north Mali in Tombouctou, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan…) have undertaken to destroy the tombs of the Holy figures in Islam.  In Iraq, Tunisia and Egypt, both Shia and Sunni Holy tombs have been desecrated and bombed to the ground by the Wahhabi Moslems, even though the local inhabitants had protected these Holy places for centuries…

2. No pictures of Holy figures are to be hanged in homes or public places…

3. The focus is on detailing the bodily punishments inflicted on the non-orthodox Moslems, and particularly the women

4. Daily activities are detailed and programmed, as in all strict religious ideologies…

If the Arab Spring generated a wave of vigorous counter-attack on Saudi Arabia hegemony, that is sufficient advantage for years to come…

Mind you that it was Saudi Arabia that initiated, ignited, funded the Al Qaeda jihadist movement in the 1980’s, supposedly to counter the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.

Since then, Saudi Arabia had been pitting the Sunnis against the Shia in the Moslem world, tacitly propagating the urgency for demolishing all pilgrimage sites of tombs and mazarat.

Bandar bi Sultan, the everlasting Saudi ambassador to the US, is currently the chief director of funding and dispatching Al Qaeda members to the various “Hot Spots” in the Arabic and Islamic States. Obviously, all these managing and planning activities are ordered by the CIA

Note 1: There are documents from 1807: The Emir of Najd, Saud bin Abd el Aziz, dispatched letters to the Emirs in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco demanding that they switch from their Maliki sect to the Wahhabi hambali sect.  The replies were: “Thank for the offer. But No…”

A few years later, the Ottoman sultan ordered his viceroy in Egypt, Muhammad Ali, to send a military expedition to quell the uprising in Najd.  Ibrahim pasha (elder son of Ali) managed to enter the stronghold of the Saud fief in Saudi Arabia, destroyed and burned the large city and dispersed the followers of  preacher Abdel Wahhab. The British Empire was the main supplier of weapons and funds to this radical Wahhabi sect, and the British had to fall back to the port of Adan in Yemen.

The British came back and restored the power of the Al Saud in all of Saudi Arabia, including Mekka…

Note 2: In the 1920’s, scores of US politicians and oil explorers invaded Saudi Arabia and were awed by the similarity of the Wahhabi sect and their Protestant belief systems.  Kind if the Wahhabi agreed for Jesus to be at a par as a prophet with Mohammad, thing will be a total match…This was a minor disagreement: as long as the US got the exclusive exploration for oil in Saudi Arabia, the US was willing to sell its soul to the devil…

British Empire systematically destroyed war crime documents: Not to fall into the hands of post-independence States?

Ian Cobain published in The Guardian on April 17, 2012:

“Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded.

[Paper burning in recycle barrel via Shutterstock]
Those papers that survived the purge were flown discreetly to Britain where they were hidden for 50 years in a secret Foreign Office archive, beyond the reach of historians and members of the public, and in breach of legal obligations for them to be transferred into the public domain.

The archive came to light last year when a group of Kenyans detained and allegedly tortured during the Mau Mau rebellion won the right to sue the British government. The Foreign Office promised to release the 8,800 files from 37 former colonies held at the highly secure government communications centre at Hanslope Park in Buckinghamshire.

Tony Badger, the historian appointed to oversee the review and transfer, master of Clare College Cambridge, said the discovery of the archive put the Foreign Office in an “embarrassing, scandalous position. These documents should have been in the public archives in the 1980s, It’s long overdue.” The first of them are made available to the public on Wednesday at the National Archive at Kew, Surrey.

The papers at Hanslope Park include monthly intelligence reports on:

1. the “elimination” of the colonial authority’s enemies in 1950s Malaya;

2. records showing ministers in London were aware of the torture and murder of Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya, including a case of a man said to have been “roasted alive”;

3. papers detailing the lengths to which the UK went to forcibly remove islanders from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean (a US most important military outpost in the Indian Ocean).

However, among the documents are a handful which show that many of the most sensitive papers from Britain’s late colonial era were not hidden away, but simply destroyed.

These destroyed papers give the instructions for systematic destruction issued in 1961 after Iain Macleod, secretary of State for the colonies, directed that post-independence governments should not get any material that “might embarrass Her Majesty’s government, embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers, that might compromise intelligence sources, or that might be used unethically by ministers in the successor government”.

Among the documents that appear to have been destroyed were:

1. records of the abuse of Mau Mau insurgents detained by British colonial authorities, who were tortured and sometimes murdered;

2. reports that may have detailed the alleged massacre of 24 unarmed villagers in Malaya by soldiers of the Scots Guards in 1948;

3. most of the sensitive documents kept by colonial authorities in Aden (Yemen), where the army’s Intelligence Corps operated a secret torture centre for several years in the 1960s;

4. every sensitive document kept by the authorities in British Guiana, a colony whose policies were heavily influenced by successive US governments and whose post-independence leader was toppled in a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect the UK’s reputation, but to shield the government from litigation.

If the small group of Mau Mau detainees are successful in their legal action, thousands more veterans are expected to follow.

It is a case that is being closely watched by Former Eoka guerillas who were detained by the British in 1950s Cyprus, and possibly by many others who were imprisoned and interrogated between 1946 and 1967, as Britain fought a series of rearguard actions across its rapidly diminishing empire.

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The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as “Legacy files” – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red-letter W.

The papers at Kew depict a period of mounting anxiety amid fears that some of the incriminating watch files might be leaked. Officials were warned that they would be prosecuted if they took any paperwork home – and some were.

As independence grew closer, large caches of files were removed from colonial ministries to governors’ offices, where new safes were installed.

In Uganda, the process was codenamed Operation Legacy. In Kenya, a vetting process, described as “a thorough purge”, was overseen by colonial Special Branch officers.

Clear instructions were issued that no Africans were to be involved: only an individual who was “a servant of the Kenya government who is a British subject of European descent” could participate in the purge.

Painstaking measures were taken to prevent post-independence governments from learning that the watch files had ever existed. One instruction states: “The legacy files must leave no reference to watch material. Indeed, the very existence of the watch series, though it may be guessed at, should never be revealed.”

When a single watch file was to be removed from a group of legacy files, a “twin file” – or dummy – was to be created to insert in its place. If this was not practicable, the documents were to be removed en mass. There was concern that Macleod’s directions should not be divulged – “there is of course the risk of embarrassment should the circular be compromised” – and officials taking part in the purge were even warned to keep their W stamps in a safe place.

Many of the watch files ended up at Hanslope Park. They came from 37 different former colonies, and filled 200 metres of shelving. But it is becoming clear that much of the most damning material was probably destroyed.

Officials in some colonies, such as Kenya, were told that there should be a presumption in favour of disposal of documents rather than removal to the UK – “emphasis is placed upon destruction” – and that no trace of either the documents or their incineration should remain. When documents were burned, “the waste should be reduced to ash and the ashes broken up”.

Some idea of the scale of the operation and the amount of documents that were erased from history can be gleaned from a handful of instruction documents that survived the purge. In certain circumstances, colonial officials in Kenya were informed, “it is permissible, as an alternative to destruction by fire, for documents to be packed in weighted crates and dumped in very deep and current-free water at maximum practicable distance from the coast”.

Documents that survive from Malaya suggest a far more haphazard destruction process, with relatively junior officials being permitted to decide what should be burned and what should be sent to London.

Dr Ed Hampshire, diplomatic and colonial record specialist at the National Archive, said the 1,200 files so far transferred from Hanslope Park represented “gold dust” for historians, with the occasional nugget, rather than a haul that calls for instant reinterpretation of history.

Only one sixth of the secret archive has so far been transferred. The remainder are expected to be at Kew by the end of 2013.”

I wonder: “Has all files of the crimes of the British Empire committed in Palestine between 1935-38 are still kept for history research?” Mind you that Britain dispatched 100,000 soldiers to tame a civil disobedience uprising in Palestine and the most cruel techniques and methods of torture and humiliation were applied.  Nazi Germany applied the British torture techniques to the letter and how to quell uprising and dissatisfaction…

Babel, Babylon: A historic site, a city, a kingdom, a “communication confuser”…?

Babel is  Bab Eblo in Babylonian language, which translates to Bab Eel (Door of the God) in Sumerian language and called Kad Nekrowa 6,000 years BC.  Babel is situated 60 km south of Bagdad and became famous during the Akkadian Kingdom around 3,350 BC and later during Hammurabi, the king who is renowned for the first laws penalizing builders for defective constructions…

River Euphrates flowed by Babel, bu the river is very distant now from its original bed.  Later, the Persian kingdom built their Capital Ctesiphon south of Bagdad and on the eastern side of the Tigres River.  Babel and this region was the center of the universe for thousand of years, and Babylon was the center between 562-604 BC during the reign of Nabukhodnossor who ruled over Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt…Babel was rediscovered by German archeologists around 1899, particularly by Robert Coldway.

Babel northern entrance was dedicated to goddess Ishtar (goddess of fertility) and the huge door was transported to Berlin. The door was painted of 575 animal species, and the dragon (dedicated to God Marduk) had a fish body, the tail of a serpent, the front legs were a lion, and the hind legs those of an eagle.

The south castle was the heart of the city and spanned 52,000 square-meter and had 172 rooms.  Each of the 5 successive esplanade, stretching from east to west, had specific function, and the south side on each esplanade had a huge community housing.  The central esplanade was the Throne headquarter. The third is recorded to witness Alexander death in 323 BC and who offered sacrifices every day during his stay in Babylon.  Actually, Babylon was Alexander capital for 9 years.

The Street of Victory was on the north side and 60 sculpted lions were lined on the sides.  The Street was used for religious ceremonies, especially on Babylon New Year that started on April and celebrations extended for 11 days.  The festivities begin at the Tower of Babel, pass through the temples, to the north area, and end at the House of Celebration (Beit Akito)

The long and vast Street of Victory was in asphalt, a tar product extracted from the Heat region in Ramadi, and scientists are still unable to reconstitute this product.  Mind you that oil products, afloat in abundance in the south regions, were known at the period and the cities in Iraq were lit by oil lamps.

By the south-east side of Ishtar Door is the main temple called A-Mach (the High House). A well was in its center for the virgin girls to bath before getting wed during the New Year. Alexander offered sacrifices in this temple.

There is this famous Babel Lion of one block of basalt and weighting about 5 tons, and sitting on a base representing the various vanquished people. The rock is from north current Syria and brought via the Euphrates River.

The US military used this particular historic site as one of the major headquarter and vandalized the site and transported the precious artifacts and sold many of them.  Later, the US returned a few historic pieces to the Iraqi government.

Palestinian Intifadas “shaking off civil disobedience movements”: 1936,1987, 2000, and 2011

I still cannot believe how this Palestinian people managed to survive as an entity after a century of continuous pogroms and programs to wipe this tenacious people out from the consciousness of world community, as a people entitled for a State and the dignity of a special community that lived for centuries in the same land of Palestine.

Starting in 1918, and for over 18 years, the British mandated power over Palestine refused to hold any election of any kinds (even local and municipal elections) for the Palestinian people.

France had already executed democratic elections for parliaments in Syria and Lebanon since 1920! Why England failed to emulate democratic processes in its mandated States? The Jews represented one tenth of the population.  The Zionist organization refused to have any sort of democratic elections in Palestine until the immigrant Jews reached a majority of the population.

In 1936, Sheikh Al Qassam was assassinated and the Palestinian civil disobedience lasted three years.

The mandated British power dispatched 100,000 soldiers to quell the uprising, using harsher new military laws, new torture techniques, new terrorist methods

All the modern Torture techniques that Nazi Germany studied and applied…

All the terrorist methods that the Zionist State retained in its laws and legal books, applied and went even further until today…

All of the movement containment methods that Israel transferred to the US domestic security forces after 9/11 attack, on the ground of fighting “terrorists” and are still applied on the protesters of Occupy Wall Street

During the WWII, the British mandate refused to enlist Palestinians in its army, but strongly encouraged the Jews in Palestine to enlist, learn how to fight, do war, learn terror tactics, and amass weapons for the next phase after the war.

In 1948, the State of Israel executed its plans and programs that it worked upon in the late 30’s, with the facilitation of the British in providing all kinds of intelligence pieces and data on the Palestinian towns and villages.

The Palestinians were forced by random violence and genocide tactics to flee, transfer, and evacuate their homes, villages and lands…Over 400,000 Palestinians fled to temporary refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria…

Temporary camps that evolved to be permanent shantytown residence for the next 60 years…

In 1973, the hideous Golda Meir PM, proclaimed: “Palestinians? There is no Palestinian people, period...”

In 1982 and 2003 Ariel Sharon committed two genocides against the Palestinian civilian refugees. In the Sabra and Shatila (Chatila) camps (Beirut), the genocides that lasted three nights and three days: 2,000 were buried hastily in dug up graveyards, less than a meter deep, and another 1,000 were carried away, never to reappear.

Solemn U.S. security guarantees for safeguarding the unarmed Palestinians in the camps were proven untrustworthy, as Ambassador Philip Habib of President Reagan acknowledged.

In 2003, The camp of Jennine in the occupied West Bank, the genocide lasted an entire week.  Over 5,000 civilians were buried in a crater larger and deeper than Ground Zero in New York.  Tanks rolled over live children, women, and elderly people…

Of the many genocides committed on Palestinians, the “advanced” democracies in Europe and the USA didn’t bat an eyelid…

Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982, put siege on West Beirut, cut off water supply, electricity, food supply… for 3 months and bombarded the city by air, sea and land.  Israel entered the Capital Beirut and forced the PLO to vacate Lebanon to Tunisia and Yemen…

Israel  carried out assassinations of the Palestinian leadership in Tunis (October 1985).

In the spring of 1987, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) met in Algeria and a significant unity in the ranks was accomplished and the decision to getting the Palestinians inside the occupied land to rise and confront their occupiers.

As the Arab Summit held in Amman (Jordan) in the fall 1987 virtually ignored the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation, the spirit of the occupied Palestinians rose to the challenge:  This spirit of determination moved on the ground, using civil disobedience, stones, rocks and bare flesh…all that they ever had…

The catalyst for the First Intifada movement started as a protest after 4 Palestinians in Gaza were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.

On that first day, the Israeli authorities shot and killed a number of Palestinians, including an infant, Fatmeh Alqidri of Gaza City. The protests spread immediately to Nablus on the West Bank the next day, where the Israeli authorities shot and killed more unarmed Palestinians, including eighteen-year-old Ibrahim Ekeik.

Protests broke out in East Jerusalem on December 13, and by the end of the first week, a general strike had paralyzed all of the Occupied Territories. Ensuing clashes spread throughout the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza.

24 years (x) ago on December 9, 1987, what is referred to today as the first Intifada of the valiant Palestinian people against Zionist Israel and the Occupation erupted. An Intifada is a “Civil Uprising” in Arabic, literally, “shaking off” or “overturning.” The movement initially began as a protest after four Palestinians in Gaza were killed when an Israeli truck collided with two vans carrying Palestinian workers.<br /><br /><br />The protests occurred in the context of increasing violence by heavily armed settlers in the Occupied Territories against the unarmed Palestinian people, growing unemployment and rising national consciousness, and the political mobilization which had taken place in the Diaspora since the 1960s and especially since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982 with the “green light” from the United States, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatilah camps in Beirut, the attempts to assassinate the Palestinian leadership in Tunis (October 1985) and the unyielding resistance of the Lebanese people to occupation. Solemn U.S. security guarantees were proven untrustworthy by the blood of Palestinian women, children, and old men, all dead in the camps around Beirut. The spring 1987 PLO meeting in Algeria brought a notable unity to the ranks and orientation of the liberation movement, raising the spirit of all Palestinians inside and outside. The fall 1987 Arab Summit held in Amman, Jordan, within sight of the West Bank, virtually ignored the plight of the Palestinian people under occupation, thereby strengthening their determination that they must act on their own behalf and on the basis of their own forces.<br /><br /><br />On that first day, the Israeli authorities shot and killed a number of Palestinians, including an infant, Fatmeh Alqidri of Gaza City. The protests spread immediately to Nablus on the West Bank the next day, where the Israeli authorities shot and killed more unarmed Palestinians, including eighteen-year-old Ibrahim Ekeik. Protests broke out in East Jerusalem on December 13, and by the end of the first week, a general strike had paralyzed all of the Occupied Territories. Ensuing clashes spread throughout the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza.<br /><br /><br />The Intifada was a popular, national rebellion, carried by the youth (some 60 per cent of the society was under the age of 15) with the active participation of Palestinian workers and all sections of the society. Palestinians resigned from the local police forces and from the civil administration, and Palestinian shopkeepers attempted to set their own hours and prices. As their organized instrument, the Intifada gave rise to popular committees, many of them publishing their own information and news bulletins, exposing the day-to-day reality of life under occupation and carrying the communiqués of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising — a coalition of the main political parties — with the goal to end the Israeli occupation and establish Palestinian independence.<br /><br /><br />The response of the state of Israel was characteristic of its entire policy from 1948 to date: terrorism, including closing the Palestinian universities and schools, deporting activists, scorching and destroying homes, and firing live ammunition and “rubber” bullets into crowds, especially of youth.<br /><br /><br />By July 1, 1988, the Israeli Central Command declared all the popular committees which had sprung up to be illegal. By 1989 the number of soldiers deployed by Israel to the West Bank was more than three times the number used to conquer it during the Six Day war, when vast numbers of Palestinians were driven from their homes; some four hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced, about half of them displaced for the second time. By the end of the first year of the Intifada the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces was 218. Twenty thousand were wounded, 15,000 arrested, 12,000 jailed and 34 deported under the pretext that they were “committee activists.” Nevertheless by November, 1988 the Palestine National Council adopted its Declaration of Independence and announced the establishment of the state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, something initially recognized by 55 countries.<br /><br /><br />As other revolutionary and national liberation struggles ebbed on the world scale with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of the unipolar world with the United States as the dominant superpower, the Intifada continued, a national rebellion posing the major obstacle to Washington’s designs on the Middle Eastern region and the major factor in averting an imperialist peace in the Middle East and the so-called “New Arab Order” of President George Bush I inaugurated by the Gulf War. The Palestinians were inspired by the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people to the attack on and occupation of Lebanon with U.S. backing in 1982 and the Palestinian Intifada in turn inspired the resistance of the Lebanese people to Israel’s illegal occupation of South Lebanon throughout the 1980s and 1990s. These movements frustrated attempts to redraw the geo-political map in the Arab region into an American oasis by toppling various so-called “failed” or “rogue states” which refused to acquiesce to U.S. policies or to keep silent about Israel’s brutal atrocities. Over 1,500 Palestinians died and thousands more were maimed during the first Intifada, brought to an end by the Oslo process.<br /><br /><br />The deceptive Oslo Accords of September 1993 refused to recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own sovereign state and the right of return of five million people in the Diaspora, who had been deported since 1948. Summit after summit in an eternal “peace process” of Peres/Barak and Clinton came and went, a calculated process of “no war, no peace,” aimed at intensifying the Zionist colonization program within the Occupied Territories went unopposed, taking the initiative out of the hands of the Palestinian people, liquidating this uprising and sidetracking the long-term struggle for guaranteeing the rights of the Palestinians. Israel implemented its greatest expansion of colonial settlements into Palestinian territory (doubling between 1983 and 1991) — its policies of “Transfer” and dispersal of the Palestinians.<br /><br /><br />The persistent and steadfast resistance frustrated these strategems as well. This laid bare a crisis of historic proportions for the United States and Israel. Far from surrendering their fate to the hands of such monstrous powers, the Palestinians spontaneously unleashed their second popular Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada) in response to the calculated provocations of Ariel Sharon’s “visit” to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, 2000, with thousands of security forces armed to the teeth deployed in and around the Old City in Jerusalem. Ensuing clashes with protestors armed only with stones left in the first two days alone five Palestinians dead and over 200 injured. Sharon’s brave “visit” was the excuse to launch his terror and repressive policies on the most barbaric level ever seen. The incident sparked a widespread uprising in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel and the Arab World, anger throughout the world and brought the peace process to a halt.<br /><br /><br />From this historic date of the first Intifada on December 9, 1987, the Palestinian people gave political form and content to their more than 100-year-old struggle for self-determination and national independence for Historic Palestine, reflecting new levels of national unity not seen since the Great Revolt of the mid-1930s. The steadfastness and popularity of the resistance movements, especially in the Palestinian street which continues strongly to-date, does not conceal the truth that the second Palestinian Intifada in its fourth year is facing serious and difficult challenges. These lie from within and from without, not the least of which is to strip the initiative from its essential demand, namely full withdrawal from the Arab lands occupied in 1967, the return of Palestinian refugees and establishment of a new sovereign state in Historic Palestine.<br /><br /><br />The Palestinian Intifada and resistance is the one fortress defending the dignity, honour, culture and potential of the Palestinian and Arabic peoples. The Ottoman, the British and the American Empires and their tools all tried to subvert, humiliate and crush this fortress, be it with the olive branch of conciliation or the terror of force in the service of their inhuman interests. Thousands of men, women and children have been martyred. This fortress is part of, benefits and aids the struggle of entire humanity for their rights, their freedoms and their liberation, including the fundamental right to self-determination of the peoples and nations of the world.<br /><br /><br />Palestine , I salute you.

Stones, rocks, bare flesh…against bullets, teargas, helmets

The protests occurred in the context of increasing violence by heavily armed settlers in the Occupied Territories against the unarmed Palestinian people, growing unemployment and rising national consciousness, and the political mobilization which had taken place in the Diaspora since the 1960s, and especially since Israel’s invasion of Lebanon on June 6, 1982, entering Capital Beirut and forcing the PLO to vacate Lebanon to Tunisia and Yemen…

The Intifada was a popular, national rebellion, carried by the youth (some 60 per cent of the society was under the age of 15) with the active participation of Palestinian workers and all sections of the society.

Palestinians resigned from the local police forces and from the civil administration, and Palestinian shopkeepers attempted to set their own hours and prices.

The Intifada organized “people committees“, many of them publishing their own information and news bulletins, exposing the day-to-day reality of life under occupation and spreading the communiques of the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising — a coalition of the main political parties — with the goal to end the Israeli occupation and establish Palestinian independence.

The response of the State of Israel was characteristic of its entire policy since before it was created in 1948:  Random acts of violence, terrorism,  closing the Palestinian universities and schools, deporting activists, scorching and destroying homes, and firing live ammunition and “rubber” bullets into crowds, especially of youth.

By July 1, 1988, the Israeli Central Command declared all the Palestinian popular committees to be illegal.

In 1989, the number of soldiers deployed by Israel to the West Bank was more than 3 times the number used to conquer it during the Six Day war (1967), when vast numbers of Palestinians were driven from their homes; some four hundred thousand Palestinians were displaced, about half of them displaced for the second time.

By the end of the first year of the Intifada the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces was 218, the injured were over 20,000, over 15,000 were arrested, 12,000 jailed and 34 deported under the pretext that they were “committee activists. 

Over 1,500 Palestinians died and thousands more were maimed during the first Intifada, brought to an end by the Oslo process.

In November 1988, the Palestine National Council adopted its Declaration of Independence and announced the establishment of the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, initially recognized by 55 countries.  The number of States recognizing the Palestinian State has increased to 120 today.

At the end of the first war on Iraq in 1991, the US administration realized that the Palestinian problem must reach a resolution if any kinds of stability is to be sustained in the Middle East.  President George Bush Senior inaugurated  the “New Arab Order”: A conference was held in Madrid.

The Palestinians were inspired by the heroic resistance of the Lebanese people during Lebanon invasion in 1982.  The First Palestinian Intifada in turn inspired the resistance of the Lebanese people to resume resistance against Israel’s illegal occupation of South Lebanon throughout the 1990’s.

The Oslo Accords of September 1993 refused to recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own sovereign State and the right of return of five million people in the Diaspora, who had been deported since 1948.  As Rabin PM was assassinated by one of his Jewish bodyguard, the Oslo Accord faltered and stopped.  Israel implemented its greatest expansion of colonial settlements into Palestinian territory (doubling between 1983 and 1991) — its policies of “Transfer and dispersal of the Palestinians”.

On September 28, 2000, candidate Ariel Sharon visited the Mosque, supported by thousands of security forces armed to the teeth, deployed in and around the Old City in Jerusalem.  The Palestinians spontaneously unleashed their second popular Intifada (also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada), in response to the calculated provocations of Ariel Sharon’s “visit” to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Ensuing clashes with protestors, armed only with stones, left in the first two days alone five Palestinians dead and over 200 injured. The incident sparked a widespread uprising in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel and the Arab World, anger throughout the world and brought the peace process to a halt.

The Second Intifada forced Israel to build the Wall of Shame (strongly condemned by the UN) and vacating all Jewish settlements and Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip. In 2011, even the insipid Mahmoud Abbas (President of the Palestinian Authority) gave a speech in the UN demanding the recognition of a Palestinian State.

On the first Intifada on December 9, 1987, the Palestinian people gave political form and content to their more than 100-year-old struggle for self-determination and national independence, reflecting new levels of national unity not seen since the Great Revolt of the mid-1930’s.

Palestinian resisting and steadfast people , I salute you.

Note:  Last week, Gingrich, the Republican Presidential candidate, proclaimed that there is no Palestinian people for any homeland. 

Worse, every Palestinian is necessarily a terrorist…

Is Gingrich running in the US or in Israel? Gingrich has Alzheimer disease?  The Washington Post published a piece claiming that Gingrich is technically Not off the mark!

USA 1912: Dialogue between American Federation of Labor and Socialist party

In 1912, the workers in the USA were accumulating strikes for better conditions: A worker in major industries received $2.50 for a 12-hour work.  The Republican President William Howard Taft demanded from Congress to create a commission for investigating the working situation.

In May 1914, the commission convoked the Samuel Gompers, president of the Federation of Labor (AFL), and Morris Hillquit, founder of the Socialist party in order to clarify divergences among syndicate movement and socialism. At the time, Eugene Debs was the leading figure of the socialist movement.  What follows is a dialogue between the leading individuals:

Hillquit: Is it your own point of view or of the Federation that workers receive today all the fruits of their labor? Should the function of a syndicate to increase the portion in production meant to be diverted to the workers?

Gompers: It is impossible to compute with precision the part in production that workers should be entitled to.  Fact is, this part is more important today than anytime in history.  The syndicates expect from society to gratify workers for services rendered, services that are at the core of civilized life…

Hillquit: Suppose the workers receive 5% increase next year, would the syndicate be satisfied and would stop their demands?  Should the workers’ movement decline any further conditions before they receive the full share in production, before they are assured of a true social justice…

Gompers: Human nature would respond: No. Workers have the same wishes and desires as any other human being:  They do not relish waiting to be dead before they accede to a better living condition.  Workers want a good life now, and better standard of living for their children…Workers are the ones moving things, they have demands, and are willing to defend their rights with all the power they have.  Workers are using their power in a rational and normal ways to acquiring a higher share of their labor.  Workers are fighting for higher social justice ideals…

Hillquit: In matter of distribution of wealth, aren’t social justice ideals consist of building a system where workers (manual and intellectual), in positions of responsibility or executive jobs, receive the full share of what they produce? Is the Federation of Labor guided by a social philosophy?

Gompers:  A sensible worker prefers to be occupied by current problems and confront them in order to advance: He is not motivated to pursue unattainable dreams.  A sensible worker want to deal with the reality of conditions and not dwell on devising a dream system that might end up the worst nightmare that human mind could invent… The social philosophy of the syndicated worker is guided by the lessons of the past.  The worker want to have a job the less tenuous possible, better working conditions for higher production levels…tomorow should be better than today.  Our social philosophy is to enjoying a better life while still alive…

Hillquit:  In your efforts to improving your life style you must have a precise idea of what is good…In order to determine whether workers conditions improved or deteriorated, you must have a set of criteria to discriminate what is good and what is not satisfactory, would you agree?

Gompers: Do we need a special set of criteria to comprehend that $3 for an 8-hour work is better than $2.50 for a 12-hour work day?  The real danger of agreeing on a program (ideology) is that the moment a program is fixed, all must submit to it: If facts do not correspond to the theory you are inclined to say: “Forget facts…”

Hillquit: In that line of thought, $4 for seven hours work day is a more preferable condition…and once you obtain it, you will be tempted to demand for more…

Gompers: Absolutely.  Workers will resume their struggle for an even higher standard of progress…

Hillquit: You will struggle until the full recognition of the worth of your labor…until complete social justice for the workers and their families…

Gompers: Workers will never cease to fight for a better living condition, today and everyday.  The socialist party determines a horizon for their actions, we don’t…

Hillquit: Thus, the Federation of Labor declares that it is ready to go as far as abolishing the current system of profit and salaries and is working for a total retribution for the product of their labor…

Gompers: You are putting words in my mouth to give the illusion that we converge to the dream world that a few of you socialists have imagined.  Our syndicate will follow the inclination that push humans to reclaim the best working conditions for their today existence.  We are going ahead without any fixed objectives toward better and better working conditions…” End of the dialogue

WWI was declared. The faction of Gompers sided with the US participation in the war activities. The faction of Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) split and was faced with government oppressions and repressions for standing against participating in the war.  Gompers’ faction of the American Federation Labor didn’t question the capitalist mechanism system and tried to take advantage of its dynamics.

Fact is, in the last 40 years, wages never caught up with inflation and the workers are far worse in their standard of living. The barbarity of globalization is trailing all sorts of violence committed against workers, and especially in the third world States.  Vast lands are exploited for industrial agriculture while the local people are dying of famine for lack of daily staples…

Note 1: Post inspired by a piece in the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatic (November, 2011)

Note 2:  One of the comments stated: “I don’t know about this meeting, but it came after the terrible conditions of Chicago’s meat packing industry were exposed. The general public was shocked at the unsanitary production and several labor groups arose because of horrid working conditions. See The Jungle, published in 1906”.

Part 2. Mehemet Ali (1770-1849): The last modern Pharaoh?

Mehemet Ali (Turkish pronunciation) or Mohammad Ali was born around 1770 in the poor port town of Kavala in Macedonia. Macedonia was called Roumelia by the Ottoman Empire, and Kavala faced the close-by island of Thasos.  Mehemet Ali’s father married Zeinab, a daughter of Hussein agha, and he had the job of securing the district routes, in addition of trading in tobacco.

At the age of 19, Mehemet Ali married Amina Hanem, the widowed daughter of the governor of Kavala. His first son Ibrahim was born in the nearby village of Drama, where the family fled from the cholera infesting the small port.  Amina was the favorite wife of Mehemet Ali, although he had 30 kids from his harem.  Only 10 lived to adulthood, 7 boys and 3 girls.

The second son of Mehemet Ali, the most beloved Toussoun, also died at 23 of age after an all-night of pleasure and bingeing… Toussoun had led an army in 1811 into the Arabic peninsula and defeated the extremist religious Wahhabi uprising and entered Mecca. The elder son Ibrahim would resume the war and the conquest and in 1818 eradicate Deryeh, the main city of the Wahhabi who received arms and  finances from England.

Mehemet Ali was totally illiterate till the age of 45, and spoke only Turkish, although he learned to understand local Arabic. Most of his children received the best education of the time and spoke several languages such as Farisi and Greek.

In 1800, Mehemet Ali reluctantly had to join the 300-contingent of Macedonians dispatched to support the British in the attempt of dislodging the remnant of 20,000 French soldiers in Egypt, lead by General Menou. Within less than a year, the French soldiers were evacuated from Egypt and Mehemet Ali advancing twice in military ranks.

The Ottoman Empire and the Mamluke in Egypt wanted to revert to the previous state of affairs, and Mehemet Ali played both powers, one against the other for four years, until he was appointed governor of Cairo in June 1805.

For another 5 years, Mehemet Ali relentlessly confronted the internal forces resisting his supreme rule and even managed to defeat another smaller British expeditionary force. In March 1811, Mehemet Ali massacred over 250 high-ranking Mamelukes in his palace.  The Mamelukes had to flee to Sudan.

When Mehemet Ali’s son Ismail led the troops to conquer Sudan in 1820, the Mamelukes had to retreat even further to actual Darfur.  Ismail was burned alive in his tent in 1822 in Chendy (Sudan) after angering a local tribe.

Mehemet Ali became the sole ruler or Vice-King of Egypt, Sudan, and current Saudi Arabia and Yemen:  He behaved as the biggest capitalist of his time since all the lands were His, and he bought all the agricultural products and resold them at monopolistic prices to the people and at premium prices to England, France, and Turkey…

Mehemet Ali transformed Egypt from scratch:  He created a modern army, a modern navy, public schools, public hospitals, hundred of miles of irrigation canals…most of them using forced labor by the hundred of thousands of Egyptian peasants.

Ibrahim started the Syrian campaign in 1831 and defeated the Ottoman armies in several battles. He could have entered the Capital Istanbul, but Mehemet Ali refused that Ibrahim army move forward.  Consequently, Ibrahim became the governor of Syria (from the southern Anatolia plateau to Gaza) and was a born administrator and Syria experienced its most prosperous period.

In 1839, Ibrahim defeated again the Ottoman army in the battle of Nezib, which lasted only two hours, and Istanbul was again ripe to fall, but for the western European coalition and Russia to refuse Ibrahim his military victory.  Ibrahim could annihilate the small British contingent that landed in Beirut in 1839, but it was a political decision to withdraw to Egypt and to relinquish Syria to the Ottoman Empire in Nov. 1840.

In 1841, Sultan Abdel Hamid II signed the “firman” extending the hereditary right of Mehemet Ali in Egypt.  Mehemet Ali refused the French investment to open the Suez Canal and also refused British investment for a railroad linking Alexandria with the Red Sea: Mehemet Ali foresaw the consequences of these foreign investment in Egypt and said: “Once the Suez canal is opened to navigation then the British will take it and Egypt will become under British mandated power…”

Mehmet Ali managed the British all the time because he knew that only the most powerful maritime Empire of the period could impose its conditions.  For example, it was the Egyptian wheat and cereal sale to England (1810-13) that maintained the British troops in Spain.

Ibrahim died one year before his father in Nov. 1848.  The eldest male in the family.  Abbas I (son of Toussoun) became Vice-King and ruined all the achievement of Mehemet Ali and Ibrahim within a few years of his reign.

The Suez Canal will be opened by the French in the 1860’s and a railroad will crisscross the country

A decade later, the British government purchased the Egyptian share in the Canal.  In Aug. 1882, a British contingent occupied Suez Canal and the last soldier left in June 1956 after Eisenhower ordered the retreat of the British and French troops.

In 1885, the British occupied Sudan and left in 1956.

Note: A review of the French book “The last Pharaoh” by Gilbert Sinoue

Horrors of the Longest March of: Mao’s communists retreat in 1935

It is Oct. 20, 1935.  The Chinese communist party of Mao Tse Tong (The Chinese Red Army) is seriously attacked by the Nationalist forces of Chang Kai-Chek (Kuomintang) and is about to be wiped out, unless a hasty retreat to a safe refuge in the province of Shaanxi (North-West of China) is successful.

One hundred thousand communists began their retreat from the city of Ruijin in the Jiangxi province. Only 8 thousands arrived at destination after an entire year of steady progress over 10,000 kilometers in all kinds of weather and geographic conditions… It was the quickest, and most famished retreat of all times in history. The wife of Mao is pregnant and Mao is seriously sick with malaria and was using the sole horse available to the retreating army.

Every member had to carry his provisions: 5 pounds of rice, and on each side of a stick across the shoulders were hanging either two boxes of munition or grenades, and an empty large canister of kerosene filled with hand tools. Back packs contained a sleeping cover,  a winter outfit, and three pairs of study shoes made of cord and reinforced with metal at the heel.

This huge army had no medicine and progressed for days without eating anything.  Most of them died of illness and were left on side roads. During most of the retreat, the Red Army was harassed and attacked by the Kuomintang forces. This army had to cross a river at Luting hanging to a cable of a suspended bridge. The army had to traverse seven ranges of high mountains in winter and crossed deserts in summer time. 

The humid soil prevented the soldiers of cooking whatever food they managed to scavenge. Thousands died of dysentery after eating raw rice and raw vegetables.

Chang Kai-Chek had decided to eradicate the communists, even though Japan had started its invasion of China. By 1937, Chang Kai-Chek  realized the impossibility of wiping out the communist forces and agreed on a truce to opposing the Japanese forces. Once the Japanese army vacated China in 1945, hostility resumed.

The US tested its newly acquired biological weapons on the Red Army, but the communists had the upper hand in 1949. Chang Kai-Chek fled to Taiwan and established his rule on this nearby island. Mao had stated: “Power is won by armed forces”

Note 1: Curious to know a sample of what happened after Mao gained power? https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/the-chant-of-martyrs-in-the-death-camps-of-china-mao/

Note 2: Story extracted from “365 dates that made history”  by W.B. Marsh and Bruce Carrick


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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