Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mediterranean Sea

What are these ridiculous claims that we are an “Arabic” nation or an Islamic nation?

There are sections in Lebanon (mostly Christian Maronite) advancing the French mandatory alternative of a “Phoenician” ancestors.  Currently, there are Lebanese testing their blood for DNA evidences of any physical “Phoenician inheritance“. It appears, mostly the Lebanese living in south Lebanon have traces of Phoenician ancestry.

A few are wary that they won’t be found to have any Phoenician stain, strain and be caste off as “strangers”.  What a load of crap.

The Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean Sea in 1,200 BC and the string of their City-States (Byblos, Beirut, Saida, Tyre, Arwaad…) extended from southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, up to Haifa in Palestine.

The Phoenicians were famous for maritime trade and commerce and established many trading centers around the Sea, North Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Sicily, Greece and most islands.

The written language has been around for 3,000 years, but the Phoenicians in the City-State of Byblos are credited for inventing the alphabet (currently in use with slight modifications.)

Before the Phoenicians and afterward, the Near East region of the Mediterranean (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) has been invaded by a dozen warrior empires, and many invaded us repeatedly.

For example, the empires in Iraq (Akkad, Babylon, Assyria), Egypt, Persia under various dynasties (at least four of them), Greece, Roman, Byzantium, Arabic, Ottoman, and finally the colonial powers of France and Britain.

All these warrior empires didn’t build anything worth showing as representative of civilization, until they invaded our region and rounded off and hoarded the educated and master craftsmen to their capitals.

We are a region of multiple identities if we have to rely on occupation empires.

How about we identify with education and craftsmanship?  I love this identity.

Let us focus on affordable efficient schooling system; let us encourage technical and craftsmanship schooling system; let us focus on building commercial ships; let us invest in railways and fast communication facilities; let us open up to knowledge facilities all over the world.

I love this identity; let us get to work and planning.

Another sections of Lebanese, mostly Muslim-Sunnis, would like to have an Arabic identity and pushing it too far to claiming that we are from the Arabic Peninsula. Are we Arabs?  What that means?

The Islamic “Arabic” army, led by Arabic nomadic Peninsula “generals”, which came to fight the Byzantium Empire and later the Persian Empire barely numbered 7,000 men of war.  The other three-forth of the army that backed and supplemented the “Arabic army” was constituted from people and tribes living in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan wanting to defeat the Byzantium unforgiving Orthodox Church and domination.

How can we be descendant of the sparsely populated Arabic Peninsula?

The “Arabic identity” group would claim that our culture and civilization is Islamic Arabic. How that?

The cultural development during the Arabic Empire was shouldered by the scholars in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and they were mostly Christians. They would like to rely on the Arabic language as basis for our identity.  Excellent idea.

Let us prove that the Arabic language is a viable foundation; let us infuse a new spirit in that dying language; let us translate the worthy manuscripts; let us invent new terms that have no religious connotation and spread the Arabic language as a universal language, valid to sustaining modern civilization with fresh brains and advanced sciences and technologies.  I will be for it and will support it vehemently.

There are other factions wanting to claim that we are Muslims.  How about the dozen minority religious sects?  Are we to agree on a theocratic identity?

Turkish Ataturk cancelled the caliphate in 1925 and there is no caliphate anymore, anywhere.  Tiny Lebanon has 19 recognized self-autonomous religious communities running our civil life.  Let us get real.

A theocratic State will never pass and will never find unity for identity.

Should we hide behind a reality of disparate communities to establish the concept of plurality community government?  Should 19 wrong identities constitute a valid identity?

What we need is to be unified under the banners of civil rights, human rights, sustainable environment, equitable and fair election laws and regulations, civil marriage, linked to fast communication technologies, access to social platforms, freedom of expression, laws not discriminating among genders, versatile opportunities to jobs and expertise, affordable education system, national health system…

What we need is to unify against any State invading our borders, bombing our infrastructure, humiliating us, destabilizing our society and economy.  

What we need is to unify against any political current that has proven to working against democratic representations, racial demagoguery, sectarian political ideology.

Refugee death toll crossing the sea passes 1,073 in record 2017

Why charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues?

NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence’

Lizzie Dearden@lizziedearden

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has recorded at least 1,073 people dead or missing on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy – a grim benchmark that was not reached until the end of May last year.

At least 150 are children, Unicef said, while warning that the real figure is likely to be far higher because unaccompanied minors’ deaths frequently go unreported.

Such is the danger of death that asylum seekers embarking on flimsy dinghies have been known to write phone numbers in marker pen on life jackets, so loved ones can be notified if their body is recovered.

More than 8,300 migrants were rescued over the Easter weekend alone, with some of those taken to safety telling aid workers around 100 of their fellow passengers had died during the voyage.

Many dinghies have capsized, seeing up to 170 people crammed on board drown, while others have been found dead in boats after being suffocated, dying of hypothermia or starving while drifting at sea.

Smugglers are pushing more and more boats into the Mediterranean as the weather improves and amid rumours of a crackdown by the Libyan coastguard, which is being bolstered by Italian funding and equipment.

The unprecedented crisis has sparked intervention by several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who have launched their own rescue ships equipped with medical staff and supplies to bolster efforts by the EU’s Operation Sophia.

Initially welcomed by European authorities, their growing role in the Mediterranean has been met with increasing suspicion by right-wing politicians and groups now accusing them of “colluding” with smugglers.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), whose staff work on two rescue ships, dismissed the claims as “baseless”.

Stefano Argenziano, the group’s operations manager for migration, said it rejects any accusation of cooperation with ruthless Libyan smugglers, who have turned a humanitarian crisis into a lucrative business helping fuel the country’s ongoing war.

“It’s a ludicrous accusation that’s diverting attention from the real problem,” he told The Independent.

“The real problem is that people are dying. There’s a gap in assistance and we’re starting to wonder whether this is part of a deliberate plan to step the migration flow…a deadly deterrent.”

Mr Argenziano said interventions by EU assets, excepting the Italian coastguard, were often “very little and very late” and condemned the continent’s refusal to provide other routes to safety.

“Search and rescue is not the problem, but it is not the solution either,” he added.

“It is a necessity to save lives unless politicians can produce a safe and legal alternative.”

Following the closure of the refugee route over the Aegean Sea using the controversial EU-Turkey deal last year, cooperation has been ramping up with the fragile Libyan Government of National Accord.

Italy signed an agreement backed by the EU to reduce boat crossings over the Central Mediterranean in February but it was later suspended by the justice ministry in Tripoli and remains in limbo.

Rome agreed to supply the country’s coastguard, which is itself accused of killing and abusing migrants, with 10 new boats alongside millions of euros in funding for migration initiatives.

International organisations believe the ultimate aim – transferring responsibility for rescues to Libya and holding migrants in detention centres there – is not viable amid the ongoing conflict and the widespread enslavement, capture, torture and extortion of asylum seekers.

Rob MacGillivray, the director of Save the Children’s search and rescue programme, said pushing boats back to shore from international waters would be illegal.

“It’s not going to stop crossings and even if it did, all that would happen and the routes would shift to Algeria, Tunisia or Egypt for example,” he added, rejecting accusations of NGOs colluding with smugglers.

“Safety is not the smugglers’ first priority and they will use whatever floats to send people across the Mediterranean.

“If search and rescue providers were to finish work tomorrow, would the people smugglers just fade into the background?”

In 2015, operations were mainly undertaken by Italian law-enforcement, EUNAVFOR Med or Frontex vessels.

NGO vessels were involved in less than 5% of incidents.

But they are now deployed to respond to around half of missions by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome, which also draws on military, coastguard and commercial ships.

A cursory internet search reveals countless blogs accusing NGOs of colluding in illegal people smuggling, while numerous conspiracy theories have arisen over what far-right commentators label the “invasion of Europe”.

The latest politician to push for the Central Mediterranean route to be closed is Wolfgang Sobotka, the Austrian interior minister.

“A rescue in the open sea cannot be a ticket to Europe, because it hands organised traffickers every argument to persuade people to escape for economic reasons,” he told Germany’s DPA news agency.

“[Stopping crossings] is the only way to end the tragic and senseless deaths in the Mediterranean.”

Mr Sobotoka, from the right-wing Austrian People’s Party, claimed his country could put up borders in the event of any influx, saying the numbers seen in 2015 “must not be repeated”.

The government in Vienna is one of several to have implemented a limit on asylum seekers, with calls to halve the current annual cap of 17,000.

In Italy, the chief prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Catania has formed a task force on claims of links between NGOs and smugglers.

Carmelo Zuccaro admitted he had no proof and the public prosecutor decided not to investigate, but a fact finding mission was launched by the Italian parliament.

Frontex, the EU border agency, has also raised concern over smugglers’ alleged use of rescue vessels.

A confidential report leaked in December claimed migrants were given “clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs’ boats” and accused charities of warning rescued asylum seekers not to cooperate with Italian authorities.

Another report released by Frontex in February claimed search and rescue operations near the Libyan coast “unintentionally help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success”.

It recognised that rescues were needed to comply with international legal obligations and said safe and legal routes were needed for refugees, but alleged sailing close to Libyan territorial waters acted as a “pull factor”.

The Malta-based charity Moas (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) pointed out that boat crossings increased even when Italy stopped its Mare Nostrum operation, while a recent Oxford University study found rescues have “little or no effect on the number of arrivals”.

A representative said migrants were being “increasingly used by politicians in Europe to fuel the rise of nationalism”, adding: “The migration phenomenon is not going away, and focusing only on patrolling the EU’s borders is definitely not the solution.”

With almost 37,000 asylum seekers arriving in Italy so far this year, mainly from Guinea, Nigeria and other African nations, the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

Sophie Beau, the co-founder of rescue charity SOS Mediterranée, said NGOs were being forced to act by the “failure of European states”, who should be increasing capacity themselves.

“NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence,” she added.

“There’s a humanitarian tragedy unfolding in front of our eyes at the door of Europe and we cannot just remain blind.”

Note: France wanted to depose Kaddafi because he declined to purchase French weapons: Italy is taking care of the problems that France  generated.  The USA got hold of $7 billion of gold in Libya central bank

Syria refused to have Qatar gas pipeline ending in Turkey instead of Syrian ports: Syria calamity is the problem of everyone, except Qatar…

And most horror stories in the Middle-East are of these kinds of irrational non-patient negotiations

 

 

 

 

The ‘guardian angel’ guiding migrants after perilous crossing

CATANIA, Sicily

Nawal Soufi has stopped eating fish. The very idea of consuming seafood from the Mediterranean repulses her.

“I am always afraid that when I eat a fish it might have a piece of human flesh — a migrant who disappeared in the sea, never to be found — one of the many lost souls that the sea has taken,” she says.

Since the Arab Spring uprisings the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has spiralled upwards with the exodus peaking in 2014 when 180,000 migrants reached the shores of Italy, according to International Office of Migration.

The ‘guardian angel’ guiding migrants after perilous Mediterranean crossing

Nawal Soufi, a humanitarian activist, at the central Catania train station as she makes an evening round to check for fresh migrant arrivals in need of assistance. Iason Athanasiadis for The National

Ms Soufi, however, has been helping those arrive in Italy for much longer, since she was a teenager.

In her home city of Catania, in Sicily, the 27-year-old is known as a guardian angel among locals and the tens of thousands whom she has aided. Catania has earned a nickname of its own — “the Gateway to Europe” for migrants who continue to arrive on boats.

Last week, 300 migrants disappeared in the Mediterranean, just the latest addition to the lost souls that preoccupy Ms Soufi. While aboard four dinghies they were either swallowed by colossal waves or succumbed to frigid temperatures.

Just days before this incident, another 29 migrants died of hypothermia while waiting to be brought to safety by the Italian Coastguard.

“Before it was Moroccans, Algerians and Eritreans, now it is mostly Syrians,” Ms Soufi says. “This [Sicily] is a land of migrants and always will be. It is a gateway, not so much between the east and west, but between human beings.”

From the inception of their treacherous journey crossing the Mediterranean Sea to their onward travel to Italy and further into the heart of Europe, she guides them. Amid the chaos, she is often their only confidante.

“When they contact me before they start, I tell them that I cannot condone that they take to the sea — whether from the humanitarian, legal or ethical perspective,” Ms Soufi says. But knowing that they will continue to come hundreds at a time, vulnerable to deception and trafficking, she has been unable to stop helping them.

Ms Soufi, who was born in Sicily to Moroccan parents, says she helps the migrants purely based on humanity. She works as a translator at the local court but her commitment to the migrants is relentless.

She has perfected numerous Arabic dialects over her years helping the refugees.

Almost every morning she wakes up with the next phone call, whether from a mother travelling with several children or a boatful of migrants in distress at sea with satellite phones in hand.

Once they safely arrive and are released by immigration authorities, she meets them at the local train station.

By default it has become the transit point for many Syrians, Eritreans, Egyptians, Malians, Nigerians and Afghans, a majority of whom intend to travel to northern European countries that they believe will afford them better asylum conditions and the means to restart their lives.

By the time they meet Ms Soufi, many have already been in contact with her, some for several months before starting their journeys.

Fatima and her 14-year-old daughter Ghinwa travelled from Damascus with the hope of reaching relatives in Germany. They are thankful for Ms Soufi’s help.

“For a while things were OK in Damascus but, aside from the conflict, they started running out of resources and the environment was just not good for my daughter,” says Fatima.

Many arriving say that even in the communities that are not experiencing daily battles, the fabric of society has unravelled after years of civil war. From severed families to a lack of basic supplies such as medicine and textbooks, the physical and mental infrastructures of cities and towns are in shambles.

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Despite having warned them against taking the boats, Ms Soufi awaits their arrival, knowing well that in the absence of state support and language skills, they are vulnerable to fraud, trafficking and crime, all the while, invisible to mainstream society.

“I also tell myself sometimes when going to bed that it is the last time. But, how can I refuse practicing life? This is a lifestyle for me,” she says.

Winter winds and continuing influx

Every winter, the Sirocco, a desert wind forming in the Sahara gathers to hurricane speed as it heads towards southern Europe, creating huge waves in the Mediterranean.

This year, the Sirocco rapidly gathered force over the past weeks bringing with it not just intense storms but also thousands of migrants in dilapidated vessels that Sicilian locals call “boats of death

Death that is sold at $1,000 per head if coming from Libya or as high as $6,000 if coming from Turkey,” says Ms Soufi, about the fees paid to the trafficking gangs.

Pointing to the vessels moored in the Catania harbour, she describes seeing these boats arrive, often filled beyond capacity with men, women and children clinging on for their lives, sometimes empty and at other times with dead bodies.

One of the world’s deadliest migrant crossings, the old Sicilian adage of the Mediterranean Sea as a “graveyard” is quickly returning to reality.

Mare Nostrum — the search and rescue operation launched by the Italian government in response to a series of boat tragedies in October 2013 off the island of Lampedusa — ended in October.

It was replaced by an operation called Triton led by Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, which has reduced not just the funds and resources but also its mandate.

The limitations of Triton have become more apparent with the rising death toll, even over the harsh winter months when migration flows significantly subside.

In addition to last week’s death toll, 115 deaths were reported in January, according to International Office of Migration. There were only 27 deaths in the same period in 2014, when Mare Nostrum was still in effect.

UNHCR figures show that the end of the search and rescue operation has not deterred the flow of boats. The agency registered at least 22 boats arriving in Italy from Libya carrying 3,528 refugees in January, compared to 2,100 during the same period in 2014.

The increase in deaths, humanitarian organisations say, comes as no surprise.

“The two missions have an entirely different focus. Triton’s objective is border control whereas Mare Nostrum was primarily a rescue at sea operation,” explains Federico Fossi at UNHCR in Rome.

Given the latest fatalities, they have called for an operation on at least the same scale and resources as Mare Nostrum with “rescue” as a core objective.

Most recently, on Sunday, the Italian Coastguard set out to rescue another 1,000 migrants stranded 150 kilometres from Lampedusa. The unceasing arrivals reflect high levels of desperation among those fleeing conflict and with little to no options in neighbouring countries.

Twenty-one year old Ali had envisioned a different future after the Tunisian uprising started in 2011. Having played for the national rugby team, he proudly shares YouTube videos of himself scoring for his country.

“I was simply marching in one of the protests on the main square when I was picked up by intelligence. It was sheer bad luck,” he explains with a wry smile on his face.

Disqualification from his team and accusations of incendiary involvement in protests meant that he and his family were constantly harassed and threatened. So Ali fled his home. Arriving in Libya he found an even worse situation for those like him without the right documents and absence of a functioning asylum system.

Ms Soufi says most who went to Libya had hoped to find work there, especially before the situation worsened, with a collapsed state and criminal clans dictating the laws.

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“Complete lack of security meant they were forced to take to the sea with the smuggling gangs,” she says, after meeting Ali at the train station and helping find a bus for the next stage of his journey.

Unable to go further than Libya by land, they inevitably face the sea that lies between them and the hope of refuge in conflict-free Europe. Most of those arriving echoed her explanation. The push away from war and death is much greater than the pull of Europe.

Repeating cycle

Ms Soufi’s hours with these newest arrivals are packed.

She has explained logistics of travel, arranged their tickets, found them shelter for the night, helped purchase sim cards and basics, collected food and clothing and even provided a sort of crash course in what they should expect over coming months.

Beyond Italy, most of them will go their separate ways with different destinations in mind — Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Brussels and more — based on family ties, what they have heard from others and above all a quest for lives of dignity.

Asmaa, 45, from Deraa, home to the protests that sparked the Syrian uprisings, is hoping to reach her older son in Denmark. He fled more than year ago to escape the mandatory military draft.

Accompanied by her husband and 14-year-old son, Asmaa’s journey that spanned at least four countries, from Yarmouk camp in Syria to the shores of Italy, was fraught with danger and threats to their lives.

When we were in the desert, it was dark like a sea. Frightening. We kept getting passed on from smuggler to smuggler and then got kidnapped by a last one. I am not even sure if it was theatre or real,’

Despite having endured the toughest journey among this group, she is energised upon finally reaching safety and hopes to start a new peaceful chapter with her family intact.

As Asmaa boards the bus to Milan, she knows that she will never forget the ‘Angel of Catania’.

“I just wanted to be treated as a human being and for someone to simply acknowledge me, my existence” she says.

It is an emotional farewell as Ms Soufi walks away from the departure, bracing herself for the next distress call and repeating the session the next day and the one after.

During this brief lull, she will sit by the sea, reminiscing those she has helped over the years and others whom she lost before they ever arrived.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis are working on a multimedia project called “Parallel Journeys: Seasons of Migration” that explores the Mediterranean crossings through individual narratives.

Note: Libya is becoming the main gate for all the refugees in the Middle-east and Africa, fleeing the horrors and economic shortages in order to reach Europe by sea.  Qaddafi must be missed by the European Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Death that is sold at $1,000 per head if coming from Libya or as high as $6,000 if coming from Turkey,” says Ms Soufi, about the fees paid to the trafficking gangs.

Pointing to the vessels moored in the Catania harbour, she describes seeing these boats arrive, often filled beyond capacity with men, women and children clinging on for their lives, sometimes empty and at other times with dead bodies.

One of the world’s deadliest migrant crossings, the old Sicilian adage of the Mediterranean Sea as a “graveyard” is quickly returning to reality.

Mare Nostrum — the search and rescue operation launched by the Italian government in response to a series of boat tragedies in October 2013 off the island of Lampedusa — ended in October.

It was replaced by an operation called Triton led by Frontex, the European Union’s border control agency, which has reduced not just the funds and resources but also its mandate.

The limitations of Triton have become more apparent with the rising death toll, even over the harsh winter months when migration flows significantly subside.

In addition to last week’s death toll, 115 deaths were reported in January, according to International Office of Migration. There were only 27 deaths in the same period in 2014, when Mare Nostrum was still in effect.

UNHCR figures show that the end of the search and rescue operation has not deterred the flow of boats. The agency registered at least 22 boats arriving in Italy from Libya carrying 3,528 refugees in January, compared to 2,100 during the same period in 2014.

The increase in deaths, humanitarian organisations say, comes as no surprise.

“The two missions have an entirely different focus. Triton’s objective is border control whereas Mare Nostrum was primarily a rescue at sea operation,” explains Federico Fossi at UNHCR in Rome.

Given the latest fatalities, they have called for an operation on at least the same scale and resources as Mare Nostrum with “rescue” as a core objective.

Most recently, on Sunday, the Italian Coastguard set out to rescue another 1,000 migrants stranded 150 kilometres from Lampedusa. The unceasing arrivals reflect high levels of desperation among those fleeing conflict and with little to no options in neighbouring countries.

Twenty-one year old Ali had envisioned a different future after the Tunisian uprising started in 2011. Having played for the national rugby team, he proudly shares YouTube videos of himself scoring for his country.

“I was simply marching in one of the protests on the main square when I was picked up by intelligence. It was sheer bad luck,” he explains with a wry smile on his face.

Disqualification from his team and accusations of incendiary involvement in protests meant that he and his family were constantly harassed and threatened. So Ali fled his home. Arriving in Libya he found an even worse situation for those like him without the right documents and absence of a functioning asylum system.

Ms Soufi says most who went to Libya had hoped to find work there, especially before the situation worsened, with a collapsed state and criminal clans dictating the laws.

“Complete lack of security meant they were forced to take to the sea with the smuggling gangs,” she says, after meeting Ali at the train station and helping find a bus for the next stage of his journey.

Unable to go further than Libya by land, they inevitably face the sea that lies between them and the hope of refuge in conflict-free Europe. Most of those arriving echoed her explanation. The push away from war and death is much greater than the pull of Europe.

Repeating cycle

Ms Soufi’s hours with these newest arrivals are packed. She has explained logistics of travel, arranged their tickets, found them shelter for the night, helped purchase sim cards and basics, collected food and clothing and even provided a sort of crash course in what they should expect over coming months. Beyond Italy, most of them will go their separate ways with different destinations in mind — Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Brussels and more — based on family ties, what they have heard from others and above all a quest for lives of dignity.

Asmaa, 45, from Deraa, home to the protests that sparked the Syrian uprisings, is hoping to reach her older son in Denmark. He fled more than year ago to escape the mandatory military draft.

Accompanied by her husband and 14-year-old son, Asmaa’s journey that spanned at least four countries, from Yarmouk camp in Syria to the shores of Italy, was fraught with danger and threats to their lives.

“When we were in the desert, it was dark like a sea. Frightening. We kept getting passed on from smuggler to smuggler and then got kidnapped by a last one. I am not even sure if it was theatre or real,’

Despite having endured the toughest journey among this group, she is energised upon finally reaching safety and hopes to start a new peaceful chapter with her family intact.

As Asmaa boards the bus to Milan, she knows that she will never forget the ‘Angel of Catania’.

“I just wanted to be treated as a human being and for someone to simply acknowledge me, my existence” she says.

It is an emotional farewell as Ms Soufi walks away from the departure, bracing herself for the next distress call and repeating the session the next day and the one after. During this brief lull, she will sit by the sea, reminiscing those she has helped over the years and others whom she lost before they ever arrived.

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Preethi Nallu and Iason Athanasiadis are working on a multimedia project called “Parallel Journeys: Seasons of Migration” that explores the Mediterranean crossings through individual narratives.

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.

The barbaric Catholic Church; (October 13, 2009)

 

            There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

            Since 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. It was basically a Mediterranean Sea Empire.  To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanide Dynasty.  The Arabic Empire did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria.

            In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

            Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?  Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

            Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

            Greece after Aristotle did not produced much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessee, Ugharite, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

            Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East; it is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not. It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.  

            It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

 

Note: The title was meant to be catchy to drive through the purpose of the topic. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture”.

The Sea People and the 12 tribes (July 11, 2009)

Around the 13th century BC, “sea people” of the northern Mediterranean Sea coasts vandalized coastal town and pirated ships.  The Greek fleet suffered and Greek commerce in this sea degenerated, which permitted the Phoenician City-States (Tyr, Sidon, Byblos…) commerce and trade to prosper.

Those “sea people”, the ancient precursors of the “Vikings”, spread havoc in Egypt before they were countered and forced to redeploy to Gaza and the southern coast of Palestine (named after the sea people).

It is plausible that the Palestinians returned Not as a block, but in waves to the Palestinian coasts.  Many might have shipwrecked and many were lost in deserts (Sinai) before reaching the desertic region in south Palestine (the negev or al nakab).

Moses and the nomadic “tribes” that he led out of the wilderness might be a symbolic tale, or a mythical tale since there are no archeological facts or records in any civilization of the peregrination of these nomads.  Even the stories of the Hebew tribes raiding urban setting in Kanaan (all region north of current Gaza) are fiction stories: No artifacts or any archeological finding have uncovered anything, and possibly because they were nomads and didn’t leave any long-lasting residue or marks.

As these “Hebrew” tribes got acquainted with Canaan civilization of the Land they set aside “Yahweh” (God idol of war) and adopted “El”, the monolithic God of the Land.

Now and then, a few of these nomad tribes generated “prophets” to remind them of “Yahweh” in period of dire disaster to strengthen tribal identity and pick up arms, devastation, and desolation.

Yahweh‘s” anger and thirst for revenge against civilized and settled people had no limits, and the mythical stories in the anciant testament tell how the Kanaan settled people had to suffer from the periodic razias of the desert nomads for loots and easy profits, until the nomads learned to taste the fruits of civilized life.

The process of absorbing nomads into settled life was long.

Frequentl,y new waves of nomads knocked on the doors of settled people in Canaan and Palestine.  The new waves of nomads did not just emerge from the south but they also converged from the north (Turkey), the east (Persia), south-east (Arabic Peninsula), and the west (Greeks and sea people).

The Near East settled civilization, in City-States studded along the Euphrates, Tiger, Oronte Rivers and the coastal region, had to negotiate with warrior nations and infuse in these nations their monotheist religion and philosophy, which spread all around the Middle East.

Like in every religion, every town and city had to adopt a patron saint or demi-god to consecrate and identify its particular characteristics or line of business.  Thus, Baal, Astarte, Adonis, Apollo, and all the derivative demi-gods, symbolizing the strength and bounty of nature, were mere representations of particular aspects of the all powerful and omniscient God El.

The Near East has been the melting pot of all kinds of immigrants fleeing from persecution, disasters, wars, harsh life, and soldiers deciding to remain in the land of “honey and milk“.

The trend has reversed: the Near Eastern citizens are immigrating to greener pastures for the same reason they settled down this region thousands of years ago.

The new nomads (apartheid Zionists) are brandishing sophisticated weapons and are abusing the same unyielding barbaric Gods but there are no profitable loots to generate.

The Near East region has been ransacked, impoverished, and depleted of educated and artistic generations.

Now the Near East is succumbing to brutal globalization.

Note: It has been demonstrated that the new human species of Homo Sapiens first settled in the Near-East 100,000 years ago, and from here they migrated to the 5 continents in wave, and the Neolithic Age (10,000 years ago) as mankind started planting and harvesting originated also in the Near-East.

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

I have this theory, backed by historical accounts and substantiated by archaeological and ontological finding, that the Near East region (Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) has been the crossroad for the innumerable waves of immigration from East to West and to a lesser extent from Eastern Africa via Egypt to the west.  This is a valid hypothesis that could be adopted as an alternative direction and guide to studying our people.

I take the first premise that most locations had their own indigenous people for various reasons going far back to thousands of years; this premise is only just, logical and convenient.  

The second premise is 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 seventh millennial of our calendar.

People from Central Asia tended to march towards Northern Iran and then onward to the Anatolian plateau (Turkey), rich in rivers and water reserves from the melting of snow-covered majestic Taurus mountain chains. 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 Tigris 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 which empties in the Arab/Persia Gulf and then they expanded along the Arabian Gulf shores.

The Empires of the Antiquity (Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon) 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 and most probably progressed south-west along the Red Sea coast. (Actually, the Jewish tribes are initially from Yemen, where most of their idols such as Hud still exist).  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, Akkad, Babylon, 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, the main language, and the tradition for 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 Orontes River (Al Assy) and built many cities along these rivers and many reached the Mediterranean Sea. It is known that the Orontes and Euphrates shores were studded with numerous large and prosperous City-States 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 the coastal and Euphrates River corridors 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 droughts.

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 City-States 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 in Lebanon 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

Note:  I read recently that a newly excavated City-State by the current city of Rukka (Northern Syria) is as old as 5,500 BC; many millennial before the City-States in southern Iraq.  The society was very structured and copper was imported from Southern Turkey.  A vast temple was excavated in southern Turkey that is 11,000 years BC. 

Lebanon: An improbable Nation in the making (February 19, 2008)

Lebanon has been mentioned countless times in the ancient stories of the Jewish Bible as the land of milk and honey and snow-covered majestic mountains of cedars, pine and oak trees. Lebanon has been described for its skilled inhabitants and sea-faring mariners and commercial ingenuity by establishing trading counters around the Mediterranean Sea.  Lebanon is recognized as a formal States in the UN since its inception at the sessions in San Francisco after the end of WWII and its delegate participated in the writing of the UN charter.  Lebanon snatched its independence from the colonial mandated France in 1943 with a big help from Britain.  The last French troops vacated this land in 1946.  Still the Lebanese are lacking the definitive belief in a motherland.

Lebanon is surely a good place for leisure time and a vacationing location for its immigrants; many families that can afford to leave for greener pastures are not overly disturbed of losing a nation.  Most Lebanese have not participated as a Nation to defend the land of aggressors and to preserving its unity.  After over 65 years of nominal independence the political system has failed miserably to convince the Lebanese that prospect for security and lasting development is feasible.

The main problem is that we have 18 officially recognized castes, closed sects, with autonomous personal status legal systems associated with each respective sect.  Thus, the Lebanese citizen is practically a member of a caste from birth to death whether he likes it or not.  The political system has followed this caste structure and allocated the civil service positions, along in the highest levels too, that a citizen can attain and the number of deputies in the parliament and ministers in the government according to a structured quota relative to the hierarchy of the caste after each civil war. Members of a caste have realized that services could be obtained through the leadership of their caste and not from a central government or legal rights.

There are large sections among the citizens who have leftist tendencies, Marxists, progressives, and secular ideologies and composed of all castes and would like to establish reforms to the political system and thus, the following harsh criticisms are not targeting individuals but the social structure in general.  Unfortunately, I had to adopt sectarian terminology in order to get the point through as clearly and as simply as feasible.

The Druze sect located mainly in the Chouf district and part of the Bekaa Valley that borders the Golan Height was originally a Shiaa sect affiliated to the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt around the 13th century.  When we mention Shiaa it is meant a sect among other sects that refused to abide by the Moslem Sunni sect that paid allegiance to a Caliphate not directly descending from the Prophet Mohammad.  After the demise of the Fatimid dynasty the Druze were harshly persecuted and they opted to close the membership in order to discourage serious infiltrations to their sect.  They admonished their members to have two positions, one that would satisfy the power to be and another of a more intimate belief system.  For example, Walid Jumblat is a typical Druze leader with two-faced messages and ready to change his political position when opportunities of allying to the strongest power materialize. In general, the Druze sect is suspicious and even hates every sect bordering their location of concentration.  They have practically allied to anyone that might weaken the political and economic status of their neighboring sects.  The Druze is the only citizen who recognizes that he belongs to a caste, a closed religious sect, where no outside believers can be accepted and none of the members scratched from the register. This is a dying sect that failed to open up and comprehend or assimilate the notion of belonging to a larger community or nation to unite with.

The Moslem Sunni sect is even worse than the Druze because it has been functioning as a caste since independence but not acknowledging it.  The Sunni sect has nothing in its religion to prevent it from opening up and uniting with other sects under one nation. It has enjoyed supreme privileges as the main caste during the Ottoman Sunni Empire and had the opportunities to concentrate in the main cities on the littoral and also to trade and communicate with foreigners and other sects but it opted to hide in its shell and stave off changes and reforms.  Foreign travelers and many accounts have revealed that nobody could rent in a Sunni house or has been invited inside their lodging. Only Sunni males were seen outside doing business; women were never seen outside their domiciles. Man reached the moon but the Sunni caste has yet to acknowledge this achievement.

The leaders of the Sunni caste agreed in the National Pact, right after independence, to share power with the Christian Maronite sect but they kept vigilant to continuously allying with the most powerful Sunny Arab State of the moment.  The civil wars of 1958 and then 1975 started in order to regain hegemony over the Maronite political privileges in the new political system.  The Sunni sect has allies with the monarchies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Sunni State of Egypt and it frequently takes positions with Arab foreign powers at the detriment of national unity.  In general, the Sunni still hope for a return to a Caliphate reign and support all kinds of Sunni fundamentalists and salafists.  This caste is very adamant in proscribing matrimonial relationship outside its caste.

The Maronite sect was very open for centuries and was the main religion that established roots in the Druze canton because the feudal Druze landlords needed the Maronite peasants to work their hard lands.  In 1860 a bloody civil war broke out in the Druze canton and thousands of Maronites were massacred.  When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1983, it encouraged the Christian Lebanese Forces to entertain military presence in the Druze canton.  As the Israeli forces vacated the Chouf region then the Druze of the feudal Walid Jumblat asked the aid of the Palestinian factions at the orders of the Syrian regime and he systematically slaughtered the Maronites and thus, drove the Christians out of the Druze canton and back to their original cantons of centuries back.

Since 1990, the government allocated over two billion dollars to repatriate the Christians to the Chouf and only 15% returned; there is no accountability in which black hole all that money was siphoned in. The Maronite adopted the closed sect system when agreeing to the National Pact and it is extremely difficult for non-Christians to join this sect.

Under the leadership of Hezbollah the Shias in the south and the Bekaa Valley are basically the main caste shouldering the heavy burden of defending Lebanon from the frequent aggressions of Israel.  Without the Shiaa south Lebanon would have long been swallowed by Israel and Lebanon divided and scraped from the number of independent States.  It is the Shiaa who forced Israel to withdraw from the south unconditionally in May 24, 2000.  It is the Shiaa who foiled the strategy of Israel of reconquering the south of Lebanon in July 2006 and installing a Pax Americana in the Greater Middle East.

Hezbollah split from the main “Amal” Shiaa movement around 1983 and adopted an ideology tightly linked to the Khomeini hardliners in Iran and was responsible for the suicide attacks against the US and French headquarters in Beirut.  Hezbollah was the only resistance movement allowed by Syria to operate against Israel’s occupation in the south of Lebanon: Syria had prohibited all the other Lebanese nationalistic and progressive parties to resume their liberation resistance during its occupation of Lebanon.

After the assassination of Rafic Hariri PM in 2005 and the withdrawal of the Syrian troops from Lebanon we have been experiencing a serious void in the legitimacy of the current government.  The entente between the Tayyar political party of Michel Aoun and Hezbollah has allayed the perception that schemes for a recurring civil war in under planning.  The patient internally non-violence strategy of Hezbollah in conducting non-cooperation activities against an unjust and usurping government has permitted the Lebanese population to gain the assurance and relief that another civil war is not feasible.  This Seniora’s government and its allies have been plundering the public treasury for the past three years and for the last 15 years under Rafic Hariri; this continuous regime has been spreading poverty and deepening the indebtedness and ineptness of Lebanon, with the explicit support of the Bush administration, under the guise of empty rhetoric of democracy, security and independence from Syria’s indirect involvement in Lebanon.

Consequently, the Shiaa have proven to be the legitimate sons of an independent Lebanon and have paid the prices of martyrdom, suffering, sacrifice and pain in order to be the guarantor for the emergence of a Nation against all odds.  It is the sacrifices of the Shiaa and their patience to suffer for the benefit of all Lebanese that is providing them with the leverage of flexibility, intent to change, learn from experience and improve.  The successive unilateral withdrawals of Israel from Lebanon since 1982 without any preconditions have given the Lebanese citizen grounds to standing tall.

Our main problem is that International requirements of Lebanon and our local politics are at odds.  The USA, Europe and Saudi Arabia would like to settle the Palestinian refugees as Lebanese citizens with full rights and thus avoiding the corny problem of their rights to be repatriated to Israel as stated in the UN resolution of 194.  The Monarchy in Saudi Arabia has been viewing the Palestinian question as a major liability since the extremist party of Hamas has taken power in Gaza; Saudi Arabia is exhausted of paying the bills for the destructions of Israel to Palestinian and Lebanese properties and infrastructures at the urging of the USA and would like an end to this conflict that is hampering the internal stability of the Wahabi Saudi regime.

The two main local movements of the Future (Moustaqbal) party (The Hariri’s clan) and Hezbollah are more than content of this unconstitutional political dilemma.  On the one hand, The Future is satisfied with its dominance among the Sunnis in Beirut and the North and thus, giving the Palestinian refugees citizenship might create an unknown variable that could disrupt the majority of the Sunni allegiance to the Al Moustakbal.  Consequently, the Hariri clan cannot disobey the Saudi orders but it cannot shoot itself in the foot; externally, the Hariri clan is pro Saudi but in reality it is very cozy with the Syrian position of keeping the Palestinian refugee status as its strongest card during the negotiations with the USA and afterward.  The unstable constitutional political system in Lebanon may delay indefinitely any serious pressures from Saudi Arabia and the USA to resolving the Palestinian refugees’ question.  On the other hand, Hezbollah is weary of having to deal with a constitutional government and negotiate returning its arms to the Lebanese army; thus, the two main parties in Lebanon are supporting each other practically and just playing the game of opposing forces. Furthermore, The USA has decided after the fiasco of the July war in 2006 that no more investment in time on Lebanon is appropriate at this junction.  We have to wait for a new US administration to decide that it is willing to re-open the file of the Near East problems.

The allies to the two main parties are side shows; they know it and they are not allowed to change sides.  Thanks to the vehement rhetoric against Syria of its allies, Walid Jumblatt and Samir Geaja, the Future party has been able to give the impression that it is against the Syrian regime while practically it agrees with the Syrian positions and would like to keep the present status quo in Lebanon’s political system of the Taef constitutional amendments.  General Michel Aoun has realized that he has been taken by the sweet tender offers of Hezbollah but he cannot shift allegiance or form a third alliance since non resolution of the situation is the name of the game until further agreement among the main Arab states and the main superpowers.

So far, the polemics among the government’s allies and the opposition political parties are not shy of harboring sectarian allegiances in their charged speeches but somehow they failed to discuss the actual caste, or closed religious system in our social structure, which is the fundamental problem toward a modern state of governance. I do not believe that any fair and representative electoral law is of utility unless the basic caste system is recognized as a sin and altered accordingly to represent an alternative for the citizen joining a united and free status under one State.

The first step is to instituting a voluntary State marriage law and letting the situation unfold into a more liberal understanding of the need of the people.  The road is very long and arduous before the beginning of a semblance of trust among the Lebanese is established.  However, I feel that the Shiaa under the leadership of a wise and disciplined Hezbollah and their corresponding Christian Free Patriotic movement are leading the way for a semi-autonomous Lebanon, at least in its internal restructuring.  I believe that the necessities of survival would loosen up many stiff ideological and caste roadblocks toward a reformed political system and the institution of a governing body that abide in integrity, accountability and justice for all.

It is a fact that extremist Sunni salafist ideology is gaining quickly in all the Arab and Moslem World out of desperation and the widespread illiteracy and lack of job openings.  The feud between the Shiaa and the Sunny is historically and fundamentally a clan warfare between the Muslims that demand the caliphate to be a direct descended to the Prophet and those who don’t mind as long as the Caliphate is from the Kureich family, mainly Hashem or Ummaya or whatever.  Maybe our mix of all kinds of sects might be a rampart to our moderate liberal tendencies.

The spirit of motherland is coming from an unforeseen quarter; mainly the Shiaa caste freshly arriving in the social and political scene around 1970.  This disinherited caste was already a majority when the civil war of 1975 broke out and it suffered from the total ignorance of the central government for infrastructure and social services and had also to suffer the humiliation and atrocities of frequent Israeli air raids and land attacks and bombing of their villages under the disguise of dislodging the Palestinian guerillas.  This caste is opening up to almost all sects and managed to ally with large sections of many other castes.  This extending arm might be considered as necessary out of the realization that they are a majority in Lebanon and a real minority in the neighboring States of Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. This necessity is a blessing to Lebanon because the main major caste is encouraging unity against foreign invaders.

In the event that Hezbollah maintains its strength then it can be forecasted that the economic strategy of Lebanon will shift from tourism and third sector (the Hariri’s clan strategy) into more emphasis on agriculture and small and medium industries, many of it geared toward guerilla warfare.

I used the term “Nation” for Lebanon in a general sense to convey that a form of unity is developing in the conscious of the Lebanese but this notion of Nation is far from appropriate to Lebanon simply because experiences since independence could not provide any evidence to a unified people under legitimate and responsible central governments.  Lebanon is fundamentally an amalgamation of castes that enjoy self-autonomy.  I still believe that the Syrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, and Jordanians naturally form a Nation and they should generate a common market with separate recognized States.

I am convinced the Taef Constitution was meant to have total entente among the various main parties in Lebanon before starting to elect a new president to the republic; the entente should involve everything from election law, to the constitution of the government and other priorities.  This fact translates into agreement among the main Arab States and the main superpowers on how Lebanon should be governed during six years.  Unless the Lebanese leaders and political parties get together to review the Taef Constitution and be willing to pay the price of deciding to have a mind of their own then, Lebanon is de facto under the UN protectorate.

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

adonis49

adonis49

November 2020
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