Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ottoman Empire

The ugly genocide scapegoats: The real evil will not transpire

Ottoman Empire

New nascent German Empire colonial behind most of this century genocide.

Germany planned the Armenian genocide because they constantly supported zrussia expansion into the Ottoam empire and they were supporting the Tsar in this WWI war.

Germany was behind the famine in Mount Lebanon because they turned off the lights along the Emperor trip from Damascus to Beirut because they did Not appreciate Guillaum trampeling on The Virgin shrines in Palestine.

Germany committed extensive genocides in its African colonies, in Angola … and eastern Africa.

They supported the genocide in the Congo by Belgium monarch Leopold.

The other colonial powers, England, France and Italy did Not raise a finger and encourage Nazi Germany to go ahead in WWII…

The next 2 superpowers in this century: China and India?

Currently, India that rely heavily on China for ingredients in its pharmaceutical industry and its major importer, is trying hard to distance itself from reliance on China, and pressured by the USA to go this way.

India and China have even come to military confrontation on a stupid border swath of land.

China and India Empires: Same and Different (April 28, 2009)

Since antiquity, China and India formed vast empires.

They were the wealthiest, the most populous, and the most creative in almost all fields of industries such porcelain, gun powder, paper, vaccines, compass, rudder, the invention of zero, philosophy, art of war and you name it.

Europe relied on the silk, spices, perfume, and luxury items imported from China and India through Persia, Turkey and Egypt.

The Great Wall of China is the only human made construction that can be seen from space.

Three centuries before Portugal put to sea its galleons to circumnavigate oceans, China had fleet of ships 3 times bigger than the biggest that Spain or portugal constructed.

Every society has gone through the same historical development and experienced with feudal systems, caste systems, monarchies, and oligarchies.  The difference between China and India are:

First, China had gone through the harrowing communist period and millions of people suffered from famine, forced labor displacement and indignities under Mao for 2 decades, but it managed to crush the priesthood or sacerdotal castes and feudal foundation of the economy and social fabric.

In India the priesthood castes are as powerful as ever.  There are millions of this “untouchables” caste, the lowest caste of the 5 structured by the Brahma and Hinduism religions.  The “untouchables” are consecrated by religion to remain untouchables.

Gandhi confronted that humiliating condition head on, but no other modern Indian government or political parties dared to revisit this abomination.  In fact, the caste system prevalent in the Middle East was imported from India by the Ottoman Empire as trade with Europe stopped after the occupation of Constantinople.

For over two centuries, Europe was closed to the Ottoman Empire as Turkey was militarily expanding in Europe.  The Ottoman Empire had to rely almost exclusively on India for administrative organization, culture, and trades.

Among the good things, the Ottoman Empire also received (imported) the worst that India could export; it is so enduring that the Middle East societies cannot shake off the plight of caste system that is exacerbated by close knit community structure.

Second, China has the mentality of becoming a superpower at par with the USA.  Everything that China is doing is at a gigantic measure such as the biggest dam with all the subsequent mass transfer of people, traditions, and customs.  The focus on urban centers and industrialization is diverting water from agriculture, the source of its initial prosperity and social stability.  A 7-month dry season in the northern part, the wheat basket region, is sending shivers of forthcoming famine.

The rivers in China are heavily polluted and the western diseases from water and land pollution are harvesting thousands of young lives. Over 25, millions were forced to vacate the urban centers to their remote villages after this financial crisis.

India is progressing at a steadier and less drastic strategy and linking the country with new route infrastructures.  The cheaper car produced by India are supposedly to be sold in India for only $2,000.

Third, China is investing heavily on energy resources and lands oversea, particularly in Africa.  India prefers to cajole the USA and signed a less favorable deal for importing light nuclear rods from the USA and satellites from Israel, though it could produce these advanced technological items.

Fact is that the British Empire held on to India, for 3 centuries, because it realized that the vast Indian population is the hardest working and was adding all the values to the wealth of the British Empire.

During the Soviet Union period of 1917 to 1989, China and India followed the precepts of communism and tight control over private ownership and enterprises.  These two nations experienced famine on large scales, and suffered all kinds of miseries and humiliation.

As soon as the Berlin Wall fell and the capitalist system dominated world economy and finance. And China and India transformed their development accordingly.

In China, tiny Deng Xiaoping ordered restitution of collectivity lands to private cultivators and authorized selling part of the production.  Then the private agriculturists were permitted to select what they wanted to plant and production tripled.  Small enterprises and private shops were granted to be formed and in no time 22 millions small industries were hiring 135 millions employees.

In China, small modifications in freedom of choice, and small increases in production mean gigantic increases in internal production.

In India of 1991, the finance minister Manmohan Singh relaxed certain restrictions on doing business. There were no needs for previous permit for each transaction, for importation, for investment, and for increase in production. The Indian economy took off at great strides.

Currently, the GDP of China has surpassed France, Germany and Japan.  Shanghai alone has more high rises than New York and Los Angeles combined or 5,000 high-rises.  It is no secret that ten years after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China and India were viewed as the main enemies to the USA and Europe.

China and India are two powers that had the technologies, the know-how, and the resources in raw materials and human potential to rival the economies of western nations.

It is no secret that the hurried frenzy of Bush Junior to invade Iraq unilaterally had the main purpose of dominating oil reserves and blackmailing China and India.

Amine Maalouf wrote in “A World Adrift” that Colin Powell told ex-President Bush Junior “You break it; you own it.  You invade Iraq then you will end up with the responsibility of caring for 25 million Iraqis”  Bush Junior didn’t own it alone; the whole world is sharing the price of a financial and economic meltdown.

Iraq alone has more war refugees than most other countries (Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen…) that experienced civil wars and pre-emptive wars.

In the mean times, China expanded its oil exploration in Africa and built a major pipeline to Russia and Central Asia States.

India built many nuclear reactors and pipelines and are not as affected by energy shortages as Europe that relies on Russia, Algeria, and Libya for gas.

One of the major problems that the world is facing is that in addition to the 50 millions middle class families in the USA and Europe, over 150 millions middle class families in China and India can now afford and demand the same consumer items that the USA and European middle classes enjoyed for a century.

They want their cars, their washing machines, their refrigerators and all the commodities that any human desire to own when he can afford it: They believe under a Capitalist ideology that it is their right and no one can obstruct or make these new middle class desist from their hard earned rights.

If just 50 million families in the USA and Europe almost exhausted earth minerals and energies. then how humanity is going to satisfy the demands of the new added 200 millions “rich families”?

Biography of this Citizen of the Word: Carlos Ghosn (ex chairman of Nissan-Renault)

Note 1: This is a re-edit of my post of 2008 unter the title “Carlos Ghosn: Citoyen du Monde” by Philippe Ries; (Reviewed on September 27, 2006)

Note 2: Carlos Ghosn was harassed by the biased Japanese judiciary system for 3 years, until he was whisked away to Lebanon a couple of months ago in 2020. You may read the petition after Ghosn was arrested and denied communication with anyone

We are going to have a quick overview of the professional path of Carlos Ghosn, his upbringing, which is similar to thousands of Lebanese,  his professional training at Michelin, and then focus on the problems and solutions of the institutions he handled to guide them into profitability, especially Nissan.

Of Lebanese descent, Carlos was born in Brazil and repatriated to Lebanon at the age of 6, after a serious gastric sickness that he contracted at age two which prompted his Lebanese mother to settle in a more clement weather.  (I was also repatriated to Lebanon from Mali at age 6 after contracting Typhoid fever and barely survived).

He lived his youth in Beirut with his mother and older sister, and finished his secondary education in the Jesuit institution of Notre Dame Jamhour.

He transferred to Paris where he did higher math studies and joined the Polytechnic School and continued at the engineering University of Mines with high distinctions.

He lived in a very limited perimeter for 7 years around these Universities and most of his courses were highly abstract concepts in mathematics.

Carlos mentioned that when he took a course in economics his professor defined rent as a triple integral function and then focused on the mathematical processes.

The French pneumatic manufacturer Michelin hired him because he was from Brazil and had plans to bolster its faltering businesses there.

Carlos rose quickly in the hierarchy and was promoted director of a new factory at the age of 27, then was dispatched to Brazil where inflation was rampant and managed to turn the Michelin branch in South America around to profitability within 3 years.

Carlos was transferred to the USA and did an excellent job restructuring the merger with the faltering pneumatic company Uniroyal-Goodrich.

By the time he left to join the car manufacturer Renault, the multinational Michelin was doing 60% of its profit from the USA branch.

Carlos was 41 years old when he decided on his second major move; chiefly because, as Michelin is primarily a family business, he was not ever to become the number one man and no further promotion to be expected.

He was working for 3 years at Renault when it acquired 36% of the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan.

Nissan was a multinational company and was experiencing certain death after years of losses. Carlos was dispatched to Japan to take the helm of the board of directors of Nissan. And he was successful within 3 years, and Nissan was back into profitability without any dept.

Carlos Ghosn is expected to take over Renault in 2005 when Louis Schweitzer goes to retirement.

What struck me in the first part of Carlos’ autobiography is the parallel in the genesis of Carlos Ghosn life with thousands of Lebanese, and particularly mine.

The grandfather of Carlos, Bichara , was from Kesrouan and a Maronite who immigrated to Brazil because of the famine, which  killed over 200,000 Lebanese in WWI, when he was 13 years of age.

Bechara was penniless and illiterate and left from the port of Beirut during the Ottoman Empire, thus a ‘Turco’, as the Syrians and Lebanese had Turkish passports.

The trip lasted 3 months and ended in Rio de Janeiro. Bichara traveled to the region of Guapore with Capital Porto Velho, in the Amazon and close to Bolivia. Bechara died at the age of 53 from a minor surgery after establishing 3 industries: commerce in cereals, rubber and airline travel and begetting 4 boys and 4 girls. (My grandfather also succumbed from an appendix surgery)

Ghosn’s father Jorge took over the airline business and visited Lebanon where he married Rose, nicknamed Zetta, who studied at the French school of Besancon and whose father worked in Nigeria.

Carlos suffered a gastric illness and was taken to Rio and then shipped to Beirut with his mother at the age of six in 1960 where the climate was fairer and the water cleaner.

Jorge visited his family one summer every two years. (The same pattern with my family who worked in Africa and had us living in a boarding school)

Carlos did his primary and secondary education at a Jesuit institution called Notre Dame of Jamhour. Carlos was multilingual, Portuguese, Arabic, French, English, and lately some Japanese.  He struggled continuously with his primary language as he moved around and settled for a while in a country.

Carlos had passion for history and geography and secondly literature.

In 1971, Carlos finished his secondary schooling and had no definite specialty in mind.  He left to Paris to continue his higher education.  At the instigation of one of his teacher, Carlos was directed to study higher math and he enrolled in the college of Polytechnic and on to the University of Mines.

During Lebanon civil war that started in 1975, Carlos’ mother and sister in Lebanon traveled to Paris and then continued to Brazil where they settled with his father.

When Carlos, at the age of 27, was assigned as director of operations for the Michelin businesses in Brazil he decided to marry Rita, a 20 years old Lebanese student in pharmacy in Lyon.  They have 3 daughters and one son.

It is necessary to dwell on the training program in Michelin that enriched Carlos and offered him the opportunities to learn the management and financial skills and progress.

It is his formation at Michelin that provided Carlos with a wide spectrum for tackling general and particular problems in faltering enterprises.  Michelin hired Carlos in 1978 and he travels to Clermont Ferrand.

In the first 3 months, the new recruits for all types of functions follow the same program consisting of conferences given by the main directors on the different aspects of the business and backed up by small real operational problems to find simple solutions for them.

The new recruits lived together and they learn to go through the transition between a student life and the active one.  This training program also offered management a profile of the new recruits and their potentials in different sectors of the business.

At the end of the training period, Carlos is affected to work for another 3 months in a factory preparing the rubber that will be turned into tires.  His work consists of cutting the rubber, rolling it up, inserting it into moulds and then transporting it, but the best part is the fraternity that is created among the workers and the future bosses.

Carlos is promoted foreman for a group of workers in a new factory at Puy-en-Velay.  Six months later he is dispatched to Karlsruhe, Germany, to get training on quality control, then training in industrial organization at the factory in Tours.  He is promoted group chief of production for a year at the factory in Cholet.

In 1981, Carlos is 27 years old and director of the new factory where he worked as foreman and will stay 2 years and three months.

Carlos is summoned to headquarter to meet with the ‘Boss’ Francois Michelin; the Boss assigns him the task of investigating the troubles of the straggling affiliate Kleber-Colombes.

Carlos works with the director of finance Behrouz Chahid-Nourai and discover the concept of “cross manufacturing” for utilizing the same tools of production for several products under different brands.

After offering his recommendations to revitalize Kleber-Colombes he is affected to the research department for a year, the job that Michelin initially contemplated that he might fit better in the company.

In June 1985 Carlos is promoted director of operations in Brazil.

In February 1989, Carlos takes over the operations in the USA and settles in Greenville South Carolina.

This training formation at Michelin is at the foundation of Carlos concept of forming leaders in any enterprise.

The primary task of the ‘Boss’ of any institution is to send everyone with potential to the hot fronts, on the fields (terrains) where difficulties are observed and then offer them chances to fail sometimes.

It is by providing opportunities to learn and prove leadership that the ‘Boss’ can insure the survival of his enterprise when he decides to retire.

The leaders of tomorrow are formed from the challenges of today and the clever ‘Boss’ should end up with a wide choice of alternative leaders when the time to retire is near.

When a general director is hired he had to assume and embrace the responsibilities of the past, present, and future status of the enterprise; he is not allowed to dwell on excuses from past failures as if they were not of his doing.

A general director has to first gather all the current facts and information on the institution and base his theory on this intelligence. The boss has to feel the enterprise and the clients by frequent visit to the different sections of the business and proffer the same message everywhere; the boss does not have to comprehend in depth every facet of the business, that is the job of the specialists whose task is to adequately summarize the topic so that the boss is in apposition to take decisions.

The boss should not forget for a moment that the crux of the matter is to produce quality products and be able to sell them, otherwise, if diversification into other businesses is undertaken without close supervision to the core business then the enterprise will suffer ultimately.

The next part will focus on the professional aspects of Carlos when he was selected to head the operations of reviving Nissan from certain death in 1999 and the successive performances and the systemic failures in Japan culture for running an enterprise.



In my Palestinian grandfather’s story, I find reasons to endure

Like all refugees, Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub left the world unmourned.

His memories rent from the land that made them. But his story, like Palestine’s itself, will matter well beyond the next negotiation. No empire, no flag, or sovereign can change that.

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub with his family. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub with his family. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

The Government of Palestine’s Directorate of Education, from its Samaria branch in Nablus, informed Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub that his teaching duties had been re-assigned on December 8, 1936.

The 35-year-old had 11 days to report to a new school in Deir el-Ghusoun, a village that, according to a 1931 British census, was home to some 450 households, all of them Muslim.

It was in this boys-only school that the third eldest of my five aunts learned to read and write.

While the other village parents kept their young daughters at home, my Palestinian grandfather, the teacher from Samaria, sat his at the classroom’s helm, where the lords of the British Empire held no rein.

In this post-peace era, palls cast over our long negotiation with Israel, these little histories can seem too quaint.

After all, with so many threats against our identity, so many of our people stripped of agency, we Palestinians must spar with an awful present. But in this fight, our family chronicles make for more than wistful conversation. They give us more reasons to endure.

I was reminded of this while scrolling through an archive of my grandfather’s papers, struggling to draw some perspective from the rush of eulogies for Oslo’s ninth life.

What I discovered — in his Ottoman birth certificate, his British teaching credentials, his various letters from this or that Jordanian directorate — was evidence of a life more resolute than the three sovereigns that defined it.

A letter addressed to Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub from the Deir Ballut District British Inspector. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

A letter addressed to Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub from the Deir Ballut District British Inspector. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad was born in 1901 to Al-Haj Mustafa Ayoub, a Sufi poet from the village of Majdal Sadeq and was a subject of the vast and waning Ottoman Empire, which had by then ruled Palestine for some 400 years.

When his son was barely out of infancy, Ayoub (Arabic for “Job” the prophet) moved his family to Shweikeh, just outside the northern Palestinian town of Tulkarem. There, Ahmad completed his early schooling before enrolling in Jerusalem’s Rashidiya School.

According to a biography written by another of his grandsons, the day of Ahmad’s departure was a festive one, with neighbors and their children gathering to see the young pupil off. Back then, it seems, it was a sight to behold: a village boy bound for Jerusalem, where only a select few attended its finest institutions.

Rashidiya counts among its alumni the Palestinian nationalist poet Ibrahim Touqan, whose signature work from the 1936 “Arab” Revolt or Palestinian Intifada, (Civil disobedience that lasted 3 years and Britain had to dispatch 100,000 troop to control it) the longest sustained nationalist Palestinian uprising against British Mandatory control, eventually became the lyric to Iraq’s national anthem.

Although Ahmad completed his higher-level teaching certificate there, a British administrator ordered him back to the plains of Tulkarem, where he was to open new schools in the then-distant villages of northern Palestine.

And so he did. In nearly four decades of service to the Palestine he knew, my grandfather helped rear two generations of would-be citizens.

To this day, some of his pupils from that era, all septuagenarians themselves, will recall how ustaz (teacher) Ahmad used to strike fear in the hearts of this or that peer, dissuading others who might foolishly be inclined to mischief.

I knew Sido (grandfather) as terse and forceful, too, but I found these qualities reassuring, like the relentless rhythms of a tightly formed qasidah (poem).

In a devastating elegy to his “suffocated generation,” the Damascene poet Nizar Qabbani counsels the children of the “Arab” nation: “You don’t win a war with a reed and a flute.”

But my grandfather, like so many of his comrades from the time, fought a different kind of war. He outlived Britain’s reign and the Ottomans’ before it, and when he retired, his end-of-service certificate, dated June 19, 1961, came stamped by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s Directorate of Education. In Nablus.

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub and his wife, 1981. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub and his wife, 1981. (Courtesy of Samer Badawi)

The last time I saw Sido, he was sitting on the edge of a bed in the basement of my aunt’s home in Amman. The day marked nothing in particular — no anniversary, no celebration, no birth or death.

Yet there he was, ever the school teacher, his kuffiyeh draped over a black suit jacket, now loose over an atrophied frame.

“May I enter, Sido?” I asked in my timid Arabic. He acknowledged my presence, without saying a word, and I walked in to sit beside him. There, seven decades between us, we sat shoulder to shoulder and let the silence have its say.

He would die soon after, at the age of 92, just as Bill Clinton’s “peace” ushered in a new era of displacement and loss.

Like all refugees, Ahmad Badawi Mustafa Ayoub left the world unmoorned, his memories rent from the land that made them. But his story, like Palestine’s itself, will matter well beyond the next negotiation.

No empire, no flag, or sovereign can change that.

Related stories

Notes and comments on FB and Twitter. Part 40

For years I suggested the EU handle 2 Euro currencies: Euro B for internal market of each member state, which can print according to internal market fluctuation, and Euro A for export (to other member States, and outside EU) and Germany will keep the monopoly of issuing the Euro A

Trump patauge. Mud reaching his knees and the basket of deplorable voters are dead firm on believing he is going to improve their deplorable world view

A l’heure de jeter l’éponge, celle specialisé dans le désinteret, se montrait dévorée de curiosité, même étant sourd.

Before US invasion in 2003, No suicide bombings occurred in Iraq history

L’imbécile Ibrahim (Ottoman Empire), sans craindre sa naissance, Traine, exempt de peril, une éternelle enfance: Indigne également de vivre et de mourir, On l’abandonne aux mains qui daignent le nourir. (Bajazet de Racine). Le Sultan épargna Ibrahim et fit assassiné ses autre frères. The future nouveau Sultan était de la descendance d’Ibrahim

L’éveque est ici la plus haute autorité. Pas besoin de me rappeler que vous êtes les maîtres de Dieu

Nous ne sommes pas prévenus de l’irremediable: aucune ombre furtive ne passé avec sa faux.

Est-ce que le poulet que tu mange a eté nourris de granules biologique? Se promenait-il dans la basse-cours, s’était voleté et s’ était perché dans les arbres? Bref, le poulet a-t-il eu une vie normal?

La joie vient de l’inesperé, quand l’expectation réelle n’était pas faisable.

Vous, les professionnels Ingénieur Brevets, vous ne defendez les inventions des chercheurs, mais le pognon.

Il y a des gens qui aiment trimballer des boulets (qui mangent et boient sans parler durant les soirés) et s’amusent a inviter ces boulets

The USA, China et Russia are the military powers. Yet, the EU is the center of power for a sustainable human development: There are No meaningful debates or culture worth the name outside of the EU.

Si c’était ta soeur avec qui tu compare ta beauté et ton elegance, je mentirais éperdument avec tant de confiance.

Il entra avec la saucisse de la Foret-Noire, une petite scie electrique aussi

Maintenant, c’ ést nous (les vieux) qui ralentissons le train: les delicatesses de la nature, le parterre de gentians, les myosotis… tous les excuses pour freiner le pas

La marche vers la library pour lire est une marche. La marche du retour c’est pour raffiner les notes prises

C’est bien de prendre des notes, assis. Les versions en marchant enrichissent ton style.

L’assurance du veteran? Comme si les rencontres avec l’horreur anesthesissent les nerfs.

Le veteran de la vie bouge constamment et rencontrent les vivants en chaire et os

Le veteran de la vie, meme marchant dans un coin de paradis, expect dans chaque tournant de faire face a l’une des horreurs humaines.

La peur de la peur me sapa le moral. Comment quitter mes responsibilitiés et retourner a un état de grâce?

Many small prosperous countries keep reducing the consumption of energy: healthy sobriety of a cooperating civil society sustains this prosperity

Comment organiser la vie personnelle qui confront l’ineficacité de la croissance illimitée qui detruit la terre pour produire?

L’acte de legitime résistance á la dépendence et á l’asservissement d’une societé de consomation: Une sobriéte de civil disobedience á l’échelle de chaque individu.

when a close knit minority suffers a kind of genocide, all its myths take some weight in the survival process. Would all the nonsense myths évaporate once they feel they turned the bend of survival?

No community in history ever shed-off its nonsense myths. The minority to survive. The majority sustained them for periods of insecurity. And genocides were the consequences.

La désobeissance civil ne peut prendre racine que lorseque l’individu apprend la sobriéte de vivre

Merkel gave Britain the harshest of slaps: No negation with EU before the process of Exit has been finalized by 2019. In the meantime, Britain has to pay as Canada do for exporting to the EU market.

Certain traits of mammals babies (kittens, puppies, human babies, and of primates in general) repeat themselves: big head, big eyes… Fish and birds babies are Not cute

Traiter, retraiter, un retraité: on a l’impression que le nouveau produit est plus durable, plus apétissant a regarder, plus chére a revendre

For several years, I’ve been staying very late and waking up late. In the last couple months, these routines are more satisfying and feeling at peace: I’m officially a retired person. I have the rights for these privileges.

In Middle Age Europe, 50,000 women were burned alive for witch craft

In the last 2 decades, 20,000 immigrants drowned fleeing from North Africa to Italy

Just getting expert in locating and deactivating land mines make the Syrian and Iraqi armies the most prepared for occupying villages and cities.

Celui qui boit seul meurt seul. Et le seul qui ne boit pas? La mort rongera son frein avant de le rattraper?

Le vendeur de nourrirture ne meurt pas de faim; que quand il cesse de la vendre. Il meurt du trop plein de manger

Il ne faut jamais détourner le regard de l’inteviewé qui exprime plus de choses que sa voix, et même le contraire

Most Fractured Place on Earth?

This Near-East region of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan

Note in context: This region has been established as the cradle of civilisation where the first urban City-States have been established along the seashore and the main rivers of the Euphrates, Tiger and the Orontes.

Due to its topography, this region was an open land for all the warrior nations to conquer it (The Babylonian, Assyrian, Mogul, Persian, Greeks, Roman…) All these warrior nations transferred the skilled artisans to their fiefdom and claimed that what were built were of their culture and archaeology.

The latest occupiers were the Ottoman Empire (1516) then the French and British.

The people in the Near-East and Iraq paid allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, but never admitted to be Turks. The early 20th century ideology of a Nation based on a pure race ignited the many uprising of the people against the new Turkish government and their discriminating policies and viewed as occupiers.

The terms Levant and Levantine were coined by the French and represented the population living in urban centers on the Mediterranean seashore, who were mostly engaged in trading with Europe. The massive migration of the Lebanese, Palestinians and Syrians to Egypt before during the WWI established a thriving Levantine communities in Egypt that transformed the daily presses, publication and cultural centers in Alexandria, Cairo and many other urban centers, as well as competing in trade with the established Greek and Italian communities.

And now this essay or book review.

Of the many names given the brutal, black-flag-waving entity currently marauding its way across the rubble of Syria and Iraq, ISIL is the strangest and the most ironic.

The L in the acronym favored by the US State Department stands for “Levant,” a term that for centuries referred to a part of the world where cultures met, borders blurred, and religions, languages, and peoples cross-bred—for better or for worse.

In English, the word “Levantine” has long been a pejorative term, and at a certain colonial point referred to those upwardly mobile non-Muslim Middle Easterners considered contemptible by commentators of various stripes for being neither here nor there, whether socially or ethically.

“Among this minority are to be found individuals who are tainted with a remarkable degree of moral obliquity,” sniffed onetime consul general of Egypt Evelyn Baring back in 1908.

Yet for those more recent writers and thinkers who have set out to reclaim the term, such hybridity is the key to what has made the region vital.

In his ground breaking 1993 book After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture, for instance, Ammiel Alcalay writes of the “fertile symbiosis” and “dense and intricate interconnectedness” of the “old” Levantine world

Which brings us back to the irony of that L in ISIL:

Whether muttlike menace or commendable cosmopolitan, the classic, shape-shifting “Levantine” seems the very opposite of the rigid young zealot now being enlisted to behead captives, rape slaves, and smash ancient statuary in the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s viciously monolithic caliphate.

(ISIS is Not a Levantine movement: It is a Saudi Arabia Wahhabi theological sect and constituted mostly of foreign mercenaries Not from any Levantine States)

Also at odds with such murderous ­single-mindedness is the fact that the precise geographic location of the Levant is notoriously hard to pin down.

The Arabic word for it is Sham, a slippery designation that may refer to modern Syria, the city of Damascus, or so-called Greater Syria, which in historical terms is the land that stretches between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.

Etymologically, Bilad al-Sham is the “land of the left hand,” as opposed to the Yemen “land of the right hand”.

Both of these terms place Mecca at the center of their compass.

Hans Wehr’s Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic confuses directional things further with a definition of “Sham” that begins “the northern region, the North.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “Levant” indicates the “countries of the East,” specifically “the eastern part of the Mediterranean, with its islands and the countries adjoining.”

The English word derives from the French levant, “rising”—that is, indicating the point where the sun comes up. All of which make “the Levant” a genuinely relative term. (As if European dictionaries are the proper sources for defining and explaining the social structure and social fabrics of this region)

That relativity is made palpable by several powerful Levant-focused literary works that have recently appeared, or reappeared, in English. While these books and the material they collect predate by decades the current mayhem near Mosul, the present situation is obviously a product of the region’s longer chaotic modern history.

And as each of these authors reckons with that quicksilver thing she calls “the Levant,” she and her work become worthy of our serious 21st-century attention.

Not that these variable notions of the place could or should be ours.

Both the British Olivia Manning (1908–1980) and the Egyptian born Jewish Jacqueline Shohet  Kahanoff, was educated in French schools, spoke English with her British nanny, and was very much a member of that liminal Levantine bourgeoisie for which Manning had such scorn.

By her own account, she was “not Egyptian,” though she moved easily around the polyglot Cairo of her day. “When I was a small child,” she writes, “it seemed natural that people understood each other although they spoke different languages, and were called by different names—Greek, Moslem, Syrian, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Italian, Tunisian, Armenian.”

 Kahanoff (1917–1979) were, by their own accounts, the products of highly fraught cultural situations—which made them as much symptoms of those situations as detached commentators on the same. But each approached the Levant with a canny understanding of both her own personal history and the region’s at large.

First published between 1977 and 1980, and recently reissued by New York Review Books Classics, The Levant Trilogy is a keenly intelligent and intensely readable trio of novels that follow a cast of characters and a historical trajectory that the marvelous if underappreciated Manning introduced in her Balkan Trilogy.

Known together as The Fortunes of War, the whole panoramic series is ostensibly fiction, but, at least in terms of the female figure at its heart, it hews so closely to the author’s own experience that one might almost think of it as memoir wearing a bit of well-applied makeup.

Written between 1956 and 1964 and also reissued several years back, the earlier Balkan Trilogy unfolds during the initial years of World War II and sends its main British characters first to Bucharest and then scuttling to Athens, the Iron Guard and the German Army close at their heels.

The Balkan Trilogy ends with a dramatic escape from Europe, as the uncomfortably matched newlyweds Harriet and Guy Pringle and a ragtag crew of their compatriots flee Greece in a rusty, overcrowded, undersupplied ship while bombs splash down in the Piraeus harbor all around them. After several days, “The passengers had awakened in Egyptian waters and were struck by the whiteness of the light. It was too white. It lay like a white dust over everything. Disturbed by its strangeness, Harriet felt their lives now would be strange and difficult.”

The Levant that the Pringles find once they disembark—as Olivia Manning and her real-life husband, Reggie Smith, did in April 1941—is not a welcoming haven, but a parched and menacing place of last resort. Even as they settle into a tense routine in the midst of wartime Cairo, the setting continues to be for them little more than a haze of flies and filth:

“So Egypt was not only the Sphinx, the lotus columns, the soft flow of the Nile. It was also the deadening discomfort and sickness that blurred these sights so, in the end, one cared for none of them.” That “one” does pointed work here, as Manning seems to speak not just for Harriet but for a whole category of displaced and dyspeptic Englishmen, squinting in the Levantine glare.

* * *

It’s tempting to simply write off this account of the sweat and stink of Cairo as Orientalism, boilerplate mid-20th-century Western contempt for a poor, Eastern, mostly Muslim setting.

And Manning, for all her worldliness, can often sound utterly squeamish and British. She and her characters make frequent reference, for example, to an unpleasant digestive condition they call “Gyppie tummy”; and when staying at a “Levantine pension of the poorest kind, a place so dark and neglected, everything seemed coated with grime,”

Harriet berates Guy for rubbing his forehead after touching a bannister knob, “telling him he might pick up leprosy, smallpox, plague or any of the killer diseases of Egypt.”

The description of the dirty pension as “Levantine” is telling. While over the course of the trilogy, Harriet wanders to Damascus, Beirut, and Jerusalem, she treats the Levant as little more than a geographical given, an alien place where she finds herself stranded. That designation, “Levantine,” meanwhile is meant here as the disdainful Evelyn Baring intended it.

In Manning’s prose, the word bobs up almost always accompanied by a knowing sneer whose overtones are vaguely sexual and economic—even faintly whorish.

So it is that the “Levantine ladies” at Groppi’s famous Cairo garden café “came to eye the staff officers who treated it as a home away from home.” One Englishwoman complains that her lover is amusing himself with “some ‘Levantine floosie,’” and a British writer gripes that he’s being cheated by his landlady, “a greedy Levantine hag.”

To be fair, Manning is often recounting what others have said, rather than words she or Harriet might themselves speak—though that line is often smudged. After their stint in Cairo, Manning and Smith moved to Jerusalem, where they lived for three years, and where, in a more explicitly autobiographical 1944 essay, Manning described how “to those of us who had been exhilarated by the Greek fight for freedom, the indifference, waste and dishonesty of the vast, profiteering Levantine population of Cairo was an unending nightmare.”

But Manning was far too subtle a writer to leave it at that. Harriet may “be” Manning, and vice versa. (In a fine new biography of the novelist, Olivia Manning: A Woman at War, Deirdre David calls Harriet a “barely disguised fictional surrogate” and describes the novelist’s dismay on hearing that Emma Thompson was slated to play Harriet in a BBC adaptation of the trilogies:

“Look at my dainty feet!” she’s reported to have said. “Hers are enormous!”) She was, though, also an exacting and self-aware artist with the perspective afforded both by her own unsentimental, first=hand perceptions and the passage of time.

The aspiring 36-year-old novelist who wrote that essay in British Mandate Palestine was not the same as the older and presumably wiser Manning who hunkered down in 1970s London to compose The Levant Trilogy, her final work. By then, Nasser had come and gone; Palestine had disappeared; and as she looked back across the decades and narrated the saga of her years in the Levant, Manning was also describing how the sun that always rises in the east had set on the British Empire.

When, in the opening pages of the trilogy, an earnest young soldier enthuses to Harriet about everything the English have done for the Egyptians, she laughs at him: “What have we done for them?… I suppose a few rich Egyptians have got richer by supporting us, but the real people of the country, the peasants and the backstreet poor, are just as diseased, underfed and wretched as they ever were.”

In a scene that’s startling not so much for its sexual sordidness as for the unexpected sympathetic shift it achieves, Harriet winds up tooling around Cairo’s red-light district with an odd-lot group of expats.

As an “entertainment,” one of the Englishmen, Castlebar, a poet and occasional university lecturer, arranges for a young man to “perform” for the group with a “half-negro woman in a dirty pink wrapper…fat, elderly, bored and indifferent,” who “threw off the wrapper and lay on a bunk, legs apart.”

After quickly doing what’s required of him and pulling on his pants, the young man “crossed to Castlebar, smiling his relief that the show was over. He said: ‘Professor, sir you do not know me, but I know you. At times I am attending your lectures.’”

The Levant Trilogy isn’t a novel (or novels) of ideas. Instead, it’s a sharply observed study of the interplay between foreground and background, the personal and the political, as well as a masterfully rendered account of how one rickety marriage evolves over the years and in the shadow of cataclysmic events.

That said, it’s a work that does bring alive various vexing questions about the West’s historical role in the East. In theoretical terms, such a critique may feel like old postcolonial hat—and it’s likely that Manning never really did come to approve of those protean Levantines.

Perhaps she believed that they shared the blame for exploiting the “peasants and the backstreet poor” with the Europeans who were just passing through. But the way she embodies these familiar abstractions in her flesh-and-blood people lands like a surprise punch in the gut.

Manning’s gripping not-so-fictional fiction has never received the attention it deserves, though her status as what Deirdre David calls “one of the most under-valued and under-read British women novelists of the twentieth century” seems a function of the usual ebbs and flows of literary fashion

The relative obscurity of Jacqueline Kahanoff is more complicated.

Outside a small, devoted circle of writers and academics, she’s almost entirely unknown in the United States; in Israel, where Kahanoff spent the last 25 years of her life, she enjoyed a serious—if somewhat underground—reputation as a writer’s writer and not-quite-public intellectual.

While never a household name, she did exert a strong, quiet influence on several generations of local novelists and thinkers.

Born in Cairo into an Iraqi and Tunisian Jewish family, Kahanoff wrote primarily in English, though until the recent US publication of Mongrels or Marvels, a collection of what its editors call her “Levantine writings,” her work was available only in anthologized English excerpts and in Hebrew translation, published first in journals beginning in the 1950s, then in book form in 1978.

The Israeli writer Ronit Matalon featured a character named Jacqueline Kahanoff in her 1995 novel, The One Facing Us, reproducing without comment several lengthy passages from the writer’s essays; another collection of ­Kahanoff’s translated journalism appeared in Israel in 2005.

Meanwhile, her own English words have been little more than a rumor: Before now, her only book to appear in its entirety in English was her single completed novel, Jacob’s Ladder, a raw but compelling ­bildungsroman published in 1951 in the United States and England and currently out of print. Mongrels or Marvels, thoughtfully compiled by scholars Deborah Starr and Sasson Somekh, allows English readers at last to assess a generous gathering of Kahanoff’s work on its own intriguing terms

Kahanoff, neé Jacqueline Shohet, was educated in French schools, spoke English with her British nanny, and was very much a member of that liminal Levantine bourgeoisie for which Manning had such scorn. By her own account, she was “not Egyptian,” though she moved easily around the polyglot Cairo of her day. “When I was a small child,” she writes, “it seemed natural that people understood each other although they spoke different languages, and were called by different names—Greek, Moslem, Syrian, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Italian, Tunisian, Armenian.”

Utopian as such a genially pluralistic society may sound, the Egypt where she came of age was as stifling as it was diverse; it was also—as she and her peers saw clearly—poised to explode. And that inevitable eruption was one whose causes she understood, but whose results she knew would exclude her.

As she would later write: “even though we sympathized with the Moslem nationalists’ aspirations we did not believe them capable of solving the real problems of this [Egyptian] society, and for this they could not forgive us.”

The “they” and “us” here are at once refreshing for their honesty and startling for their paternalism. “We”—that is, Kahanoff and her kind—believed wholeheartedly in Europe and its “civilizing” powers; “they,” for their part, did not. By the time Kahanoff wrote this, in Israel in the late 1950s, her attitude toward her earlier convictions was tinged with a certain darkness, as if now she realized how blinkered she and her privileged Cairene cohort had been.

While she was very much the product of her colonial education, she had, over the years—and since leaving Egypt—come to feel decidedly un-European. So it was that she could also write of how, as children, “we learned nothing about ourselves or what we should do. We did not know how it had happened that Jewish, Greek, Moslem, and Armenian girls sat together to learn about the French Revolution, patrie, liberté, egalité, fraternité. None of us had experienced any of these things. Not even our teachers really believed these words had anything to do with our lives.”

Her sense of alienation wasn’t just a function of her role as a well-heeled English- and French-speaking Jew in a poor, largely Arabic-­speaking Muslim society, or as a dyed-in-the-wool Middle Easterner being schooled as if she were une jeune fille in Paree. She was curious and intellectually independent in ways that made life difficult for a girl in the sheltered confines of her particular class.

As was expected of her, she married young, but this was her ticket out: Kahanoff left Egypt for the United States with her new husband in 1940. Seeking refuge elsewhere, she must practically have passed the refuge-seeking Olivia Manning and her new husband in the Alexandria harbor.

As Kahanoff would eventually explain in “A Generation of Levantines,” her signature essay cycle: “Perhaps, one day, I would be able to write about this Egypt I both loved and hated, the frail little world, seemingly so perfect, but in reality so rotten that it had to fall apart—to give birth to one of which I might feel a part. But first I would have to assess my generation in search of itself, and this I could only do from afar.” All her most lasting work was written once she was, so to speak, out of Egypt.

Soon divorced, Kahanoff went to college and studied for a journalism degree at Columbia, wrote fiction, and befriended various European refugee intellectuals in New York. After a short period in Paris, she and her second husband settled in Israel in 1954, moving initially to the isolated, working-class desert town of Beersheba.

Replicating in a striking manner the cultural aloofness of her generation in Egypt—“we were,” she’d write of the muddled verbal milieu of her childhood, “a people without a language”—she never really learned Hebrew; her Arabic was poor.

And though she’d chosen to live in Israel, Kahanoff was hardly a card-carrying Zionist. According to those who knew her, the writer’s refined and somehow aristocratic bearing was at distinct odds with her scrappy new surroundings. Her literary sensibility was also peculiar to the context: Her best essays are composed in a belletristic, personal, and—for lack of a better term—“feminine” style whose indirect and graceful tack seems to this day foreign to the tough-talking Israeli atmosphere.

While she was certainly engaged in a kind of polemic, the tone of her often memoiristic prose was gentle and contemplative; she didn’t shout. And, most important, she chose to write about the place she had come from (Egypt) and the place where she’d landed (Israel) not as two enemy entities locked in a struggle to the death, but as part of the same geographical and cultural continuum—one that extended, as the medieval trade routes had, all around the Mediterranean.

Mild as that sounds, Kahanoff was proposing something radical for her moment. In many ways, it’s radical now. During the same years that Polish-born, then–prime minister David Ben-Gurion was sternly warning about the dangers of Israel’s “Levantinization” and promising “to fight against the spirit of the Levant, which corrupts individuals and societies,” Kahanoff was attempting to reclaim the L-word and make it a label to be proud of, in all its complexity.

There was, she insisted, no shame in mixing, in crossing over, in being in between: Such hybridization was, in fact, Israel’s great and maybe only hope. The country’s Ashkenazi elite should, she wrote, stop pretending that the Jewish state was some fortresslike bastion of Western Enlightenment values, besieged on all sides by purportedly “irrational” societies, and instead embrace its place as part of a wider Middle Eastern expanse.

What’s more, Eastern Jews like Kahanoff and the hundreds of thousands of other recent arrivals from Morocco, Iraq, and other nearby lands could, she insisted, serve as a kind of bridge or model—as natives of the region and heirs to a developed tradition of cultural symbiosis. For now (the year was 1959), these “oriental Jews” suffered from what she described as a form of internal colonialism: condescension and discrimination at the hands of the country’s “well-established old timers.”

The “Levantinization” that Kahanoff advocated would work to spread power more equitably within Israel itself and to bring the new nation into a more dynamically integrated relationship with its surroundings.

A great deal of history has lumbered by since Kahanoff wrote, and some of her ideas seem hopelessly rosy or reductive when one thinks of the current bloody state of things both within Israel/Palestine and throughout the Middle East. Given her sophisticated reading of internal Israeli politics, she could be blind to other critical local dynamics.

After 1967, she put forth unsettlingly patronizing notions—for instance, about how Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza might benefit Arab farmers by teaching them “new techniques of agricultural production.”

Her refusal to wrestle more critically with the way Israel controls Palestinian land and lives, along with her idealized call for a Levant that might exist beyond the predictable rhetorical realm of “the conflict,” have unfortunately made it possible in recent years for certain Israeli intellectuals to adopt (and, I’d argue, twist) her ideas and see them as an invitation to avoid the hard questions—that is, forget the Occupation and ignore the Arabs.

According to the proponents of this weirdly wishful brand of Levantinism, Israel might most comfortably find its place as part of a sun-dappled, wine-sipping Mediterranean idyll that includes pristine Greek beaches and pretty Italian ports, but not Gaza, with its siege, its sewage, its suffering.

Kahanoff is no longer here to see how things have evolved and to speak for herself, but it’s hard to imagine a writer as clear-eyed and lucid as she was averting her gaze or pocketing her pen in the face of such difficult realities. In a way, her “soft” style and her emphasis on the important role played historically by the region’s minorities have made it easier for such evasions to take hold in her name.

Yet however dated or wrongheaded some of her ideas now seem, the core of her thinking is still startling and apt. While Eastern Jews now wield much more power than they did in Israel’s early years, and a good deal of “mixing” of the sort Kahanoff urged has taken place within the country’s Jewish population, certain very basic prejudices persist in the realms of high culture, higher education, religious norms, social welfare, and national self-definition.

Never mind how much cheerfully syncopated “Eastern” music pours forth from the radios of Tel Aviv, or how many plates of hummus the average Dimona-dweller consumes monthly; when it comes to how the Jewish past is taught in schools and perceived at large, the Holocaust and the early “heroic” years of European Zionism figure much more centrally than do several millennia of rich and varied Eastern Jewish literature, philosophy, and social history.

The “us or them” rhetoric of Ben-Gurion’s era has come to pervade every aspect of Israeli life. Unabashed racism against Arabs within the country is rampant, as are more subterranean forms of what Sephardic intellectual activist and cultural commentator David Shasha calls “Arab Jewish self-hatred.

By this, David Shasha means the tendency of so many Eastern Jews to adopt Ashkenazi frames of reference and suppress their own multifarious cultural past.

Sadly enough, some of the most aggressive bigotry against local Arabs comes from Israeli Jews whose grandparents spoke Arabic as their mother tongue. The idea of Israel’s integration into a kind of open Middle Eastern union seems less likely now than ever, and not only because of the bunker that Israel has made of itself. Throughout the wider Levant, violence, repression, extremism, and fear of any sort of other—Yazidis, Assyrians, Kurds, Copts, members of the Muslim Brotherhood—are of course raging.

Which may be exactly why it seems more important now than ever to reckon with Kahanoff’s words and her basic vision of the region as a place that is “not exclusively Western or Eastern, Christian, Jewish, or Moslem.”

While there still flickers a chance to save or even just honor something of the abundantly variegated cultural reality that has existed there for thousands of years, it’s worth considering her own definition of the Levant, which “because of its diversity…has been compared to a mosaic—bits of stone of different colors assembled into a flat picture.

In one of the last essays she wrote before her death, “To me it is more like a prism whose various facets are joined by the sharp edge of differences, but each of which…reflects or refracts light.”

In these dark days, as monomaniacs on all sides attempt to shatter that prism, we can at least stop and try to absorb what remains of the light

Note 1: Maybe the majority of the people in the Near-East and Iraq paid allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, but never as Turks.

Note 2: It is frustrating that essays on the people of this region as based on the colonial authors and opinions.

Andrew Bossone shared this

“Her basic vision of the region as a place that is “not exclusively Western or Eastern, Christian, Jewish, or Moslem.”

While there still flickers a chance to save or even just honor something of the abundantly variegated cultural reality that has existed there for thousands of years, it’s worth considering her own definition of the Levant, which ‘because of its diversity…has been compared to a mosaic—bits of stone of different colors assembled into a flat picture.

To me,” as she put it in one of the last essays she wrote before her death, “it is more like a prism whose various facets are joined by the sharp edge of differences, but each of which…reflects or refracts light.’”

Of the many names given the brutal, black-flag-waving entity currently marauding its way across the rubble of Syria and Iraq, ISIL is the strangest and the most ironic.








Genocide has deep causes: The catalyst is a major war to ignite the massacre

And why Germany committed this mass ethnic cleansing genocide on Jews, Ukrainians, Polish people, Tsigans…?

Because the colonial victors in WWI  refused to set up an international tribunal for crimes against humanity:

1. On the genocide of the Armenians planned by Germany in 1915 and executed by the Turks and Kurds

2. On the famine hecatomb in Mount Lebanon (1915-18), willed by Germany after a visit of its monarch  in 1909

This post focuses on the genocide of the Armenians and Lebanese.

But prior to that, let us refresh our memories of the colonial genocide before the cases of the Armenians and Lebanese people:

1. The massive killing of the people in the Congo (5 million) by colonial Belgium

2. the genocide on Indonesians by colonial Netherland

3. The genocide on people in Australia, India and New Zealand by the British Empire


And Hitler to wonder in 1939: “Who remembers the massacre of the Armenians?”

Actually, the Nuremberg Tribunal focused on the latest of genocide. The colonial powers executed a dozen of those they had no interest in using for their talent and professionalism, particularly in the development of weapons of mass destruction, torture techniques, sciences and spying.

The Nuremberg Tribunal didn’t brought to trial

1. the genocide in Libya and Ethiopia by Italy under Mussolini

The Nuremberg Tribunal didn’t convince anyone with strong links to former colonial powers that there can be serious consequences of committing genocide. Let’s start with:

1. genocide in Korea by Japan, China, Soviet Union and USA

2. genocide in China by Japan, Soviet Union and Mao Tse Tong

3. genocide in Viet Nam by the French and USA

4. genocide in Algeria by the French

5. genocide in Rwanda

6. genocide in Cambodia

7. genocide in Afghanistan

8. genocide in Iraq and then Syria

Shall we go on?

This post will focus on the two genocide of Armenians and Lebanese of Mount Lebanon.

When WWI started, Germany was the main western nation dealing with Turkey, in trade, military cooperation and training, building infrastructure (The Istanbul-Hejaz railway for example)

By 1906, the British Empire realized that it was unable to prevent Germany becoming the second economical power behind the USA or overtaking German external trade around the world in quality or price.

England decided that its best strategy was a preemptive war on Germany by blocking the maritime ports with which Germany imported and exported goods.

All the diplomacy of England was to ally France ( the largest land army) and neutralize Russia (the main trade outlet for Germany for many centuries) in the event Germany wage an all out war.

Germany had no qualm with France and Russia because it benefitted from these 2 countries.

Ironically, it is France and Russia that first declared war on Germany.

As Russia declared war on Germany, and since the Armenians in Turkey steadfastly and consistently supported and aided Imperial Russia frequent incursions into the Ottoman Empire since the 19th century, Germany planned the Armenian genocide and the new  colonial national zeal of the Young Turk junta systematically executed the plan, and in a very German professionalism.

It is to be noted that the Ottoman Empire was the most lenient and tolerant among all empires relative to its varieties of ethnic and religious diversities.

Germany finally decided to agree that it shared in the genocide of the Armenians by the planning of this mass murder. 

The roots for this hatred of the Turks against the Armenians was there, and it needed a new Nationalist feeling of the 20th century to go all the way according to the German decision.

The turks executed the plan in the large cities while the Kurds were assigned this job in the far fetched country side.

Germany was also behind punishing Lebanon and committed this genocide famine hecatomb between 1915-18

For example, the city of Kars in Turkey, on the eastern side of the Anatolia Plateau (Anadol), is built by the river Kars and is a must cross location on the routes from Georgia, Tabriz (Iran), the Caucasus and Tiflis. I urge my readers to recollect other cursed cities through history.

Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus form one homogeneous geographic area in economy, culture, and social communication and trades.

The Armenians on both sides preferred to pay allegiance to Christian Russia and wished that Russia would grant them administrative autonomy in the Caucasus.

The Moslems on both sides paid allegiance to the Moslem Ottoman Empire.

The triangle of the current States of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were the scenes of major battle fields and invasions through history and is still a hot area till now.

The Nobel Literature Prize winner Orhan Pamuk published “Snow” that described the calamities suffered by the inhabitants of the Kars region.  The Armenian people lived in that region for a thousand years and then many waves of immigrants and refugees from persecutions flocked to it.

The Karss region hosted people from the Empires of Persia, Byzantium and then Moguls, Georgians, Kurds, and Cherkessk.

In the 17th century, the Karss region was predominantly of Moslems and then Armenians were second in numbers.

The absolute monarchic Russian Empire vied for this region since the 18th century.

In 1827, Russia entered Karss and chased out over 27,000 Moslems and transferred 45,000 Armenians to this city from Iran and the Anatolian Plateau.

The city of Yerevan (Capital of the current State of Armenia) that was mostly of Iranians was transformed demographically in 1827.

In every Russian invasion to the Karss region, the Russian troops could rely on the Armenian population for auxiliary regiments, logistics, and intelligence services.

As the Russian troops vacated the region in 1829, over 90,000 Armenians fled with the Russians fearing well deserved persecution.

During the Crimea War, which confronted Russia against the combined alliance of Britain, France, and the Ottoman, the Russians put siege on Karss in 1855 for many months and all the Ottoman army within the city was massacred.  The Paris treaty of 1855 forced the Russians to vacate the Karss region. The Ottoman troops retaliated heavily on the Armenians.

In 1859, the Cherkessk, lead by their leader Shamel, revolted against the Russians and Shamel was defeated; many Christian Russian Orthodox were transferred to Karss to replace the Moslem Cherkessk.  The same eviction process befell three quarter of the Moslems of Abkhazia in 1867.

Thus, in less than 30 years, the Russian Empire changed the demographics of the Caucasus from mostly Moslems to mostly Christians.

Over 1, 200,000 Moslems were forced to transfer to other regions; 800,000 of the Moslems settled in the Ottoman Empire. 

In 1877, the Russians amassed troops on the border with Karss; Sultan Abdel Hamid preempted the invasion by massacring the Armenians on ground that they will inevitably aid the Russians.

After 93 days of war, the Russians entered Karss and a pogrom on the Moslems proceeded for many days.

The treaty of San Estephanos relinquished the region to the Russian Empire. The Russians built a new city south of the city of Karess where the Emperor Alexander III met with his concubines and hunted.

In the next 43 years, the Armenians harassed the Moslems of this region and thousand had to flee.

In retaliation, Sultan Abdel Hamid formed in 1891 a special regiment of Kurdish cavalry with the purpose of harassing the Armenians of the Karss region and the pogrom around Lake Van raised an outcry in Europe.

During the First World War, the Armenians again aided the Russians and formed semi-regular armies to fight the Ottoman Empire.

On both sides, Armenian troops were under either the flag of Turkey or of Russia.

As the genocide was decided in April 1915, the Turks disbanded 125,000 armed Armenian troops and transferred them to dig ditches and construction works.

Consequently, in 1915, the Ottoman Empire launched the genocide plan against the Armenians and thousands died of famine during the long march out of Turkey.

The Armenians settled in Constantinople (Istanbul), and the people in the Adana region shared in the mass persecution; only the Armenians in the Caucasus, within Russia, were spared.

The British occupied the Karss region in 1919 and gave some authority to the Armenians who gathered arms from the Moslems and gave them to the Armenians and another round of harassment and massacres took place.

The Turkish General Mustafa Kemal re-occupied the Karss region in 1920 after defeating the Armenian army: the Bolsheviks were then allied to the new Turkish Republic.

The Russians transferred the Armenians from the region of Patum to Yerevan.

In 1927, all the properties of the Armenians in Karss were confiscated.

The Armenians were robbed of a homeland because Turkey ceased Cyprus to Britain in exchange of guaranteeing the Karss region to Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal (Attaturk) also negotiated a political deal with mandated power France over Syria to relinquish the Syrian region of Alexandrite to Turkey, setting the premises for future regional feuds.

Nowadays, there are no Armenians in Karss; the imposing buildings of Tsarist Russia are government Administrative offices; a vast villa of 40 rooms is transformed into hospital, and a Jewish museum.

An entire century of struggles, massacres, harassment,  genocides, and useless hate to their neighbors in order to gain self-autonomy rewarded the Armenians nothing.

They had to wait for the break down of the Soviet Union to enjoy the Armenian State that is totally dependent in its economy on the neighboring States.

Kosovo, Kashmir, Jerusalem, Gaza, and Palestine are current examples of lost opportunities for stability and peace.

As for the case of the famine hecatomb in Mount Lebanon read:


Still Not called ‘Genocide’? 1.5 million Armenian systematically massacred

ISTANBUL — On April 24, 1915, Turkish authorities of the Young Turks junta hauled off Daniel Varoujan, a leading Armenian poet of the time, along with over 200 other intellectuals in the capital Constantinople.

To the crumbling Ottoman Empire, the poets, painters, writers, booksellers and politicians at the beating heart of the Armenian community posed too much of a threat.

 this April 23, 2015

100 Years Ago

Soon, much of the empire’s Christian Armenian population would be targeted and nearly wiped out, accused of conspiring against the empire with the Russians.

Many Armenians say the genocide was collective punishment for the actions of a few. (As in any genocide when a major war starts)

In August, after a wave of deportations began that would force hundreds of thousands of Armenians on brutal death marches toward the Syrian desert, Varoujan was tortured to death, according to eyewitnesses at the time. Varoujan was just one of many men, women and children who lost their lives.

This week, Armenians from around the world are gathering in Istanbul to commemorate the deaths of nearly 1.5 million Armenians who died in what would later be known by many as genocide, but Not  by Turkey, the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia… (Watch those head of states who preferred to attend the commemoration of Gallipoli battle instead of the commemoration in Armenia)

A century on, the killings are hardly a thing of the past, with sensitive geopolitics still fueling the controversy.

(Hitler wondered before committing his own genocide “Does any one remember the Armenian genocide?” Germany had planned the Armenian genocide)

Regardless of how it’s labeled, here are some figures that explain the size and scope of this tragedy:

armenian genocide

Armenians killed by Ottoman Turks during the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

1.5 million

The number of Armenians believed to have been killed between 1915 and 1917.

“Rape and beating were commonplace,” wrote acclaimed historian David Fromkin in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Ottoman Empire’s downfall, A Peace to End All Peace.

“Those who were not killed at once were driven through mountains and deserts without food, drink or shelter. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians eventually succumbed or were killed.”

An Armenian man in Istanbul, who as a schoolboy discovered his family was Armenian, told The WorldPost one story passed down to him by his parents:

His grandfather, too exhausted to walk any farther in the death march toward the Syrian desert (destination Deir al Zour), refused to go on. He would rather drown than walk another mile to his death, he told the Turkish Ottoman guards. And so, the man says, they held his grandfather under the water until he was dead.


The number of intellectuals reportedly rounded up by Ottoman Turks on April 24, 1915, in Constantinople (now Istanbul), kicking off what would become a massive wave of arrests, deportations and killings.

Many of these Armenians were later deported and in many cases killed. Armenians commemorate the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide every year on April 24.

“They took the intellectuals, the cream of the crop,” one Armenian book publisher who said his father, a baker, lived in Constantinople when the arrests took place, recently told The WorldPost. “They took the head and left the body.”

armenian genocide 2015 istanbul

French Armenian Gerard Bodigoff (R) lights candle with his wife Jacqueline in the Armenian church on April 20 in Istanbul to pay tribute to his grandparents who were massacred and her mother who fled the Armenian genocide in 1915.


The number of dead bodies reportedly found in 1916 in a mass grave in Maskanah, a northern town in what is now modern day Syria, according to Jesse B. Jackson, U.S. consul in Aleppo. “As far as the eye can reach mounds are seen containing 200 to 300 corpses buried in the ground,” he said in a cable to Washington.


The number of Armenians who died during this period due to war and disease, according to Turkey, which vehemently denies the 1.5 million figure.

“According to independent researchers, 300,000 Armenians lost their lives because of the war and disease,” reads one Turkish state-provided textbook for high school students. “But during that time, Armenians killed 600,000 Turks and forced 500,000 Turks to leave their land.”


The number of Armenians living in the Ottoman empire before 1914, according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.


The number of Armenians still left in the Ottoman Empire in 1922.

armenia map
(Wikimedia Commons.)


The number of nations that officially recognize the Armenian Genocide. The list does not include the United States, Israel and many others who on the centenary are grappling with labeling the killings a genocide. Germany is expected to finally do so on the anniversary.

The Armenian Genocide still remains one of the most bitterly contested events in history, especially for Turkey, fiercely defensive of its Ottoman past.

If President Obama decided to label the 1915 killings as genocide, already strained relations would likely only worsen with Turkey, where the United States has an important air base in the south, close to Syria.

Turkey and the U.S. government have butted heads over the Syrian crisis, with a U.S.-led coalition targeting solely Islamic State extremists, while Turkey insists military efforts must also focus on bringing down Syria’s Bashar Assad.

The United States has said Turkey, hosting over 1.7 million desperate Syrian refugees, has failed to do enough to counter extremists who often cross its border into Syria with ease.

The White House doesn’t want to use the fateful “g” word because it would anger the wrong people.

That’s essentially what officials said Tuesday when faced with increasing pressure to label the mass killings a genocide.

Citing “regional priorities” in its decision not to say the killings amounted to genocide, the U.S. government insisted it would urge “a full, frank, and just acknowledgment of the facts,” according to a White House statement.

The decision angered many Armenians in the United States and abroad who say they had hoped President Barack Obama would use the centennial as an opportunity to put things right, considering his track record of acknowledging the genocide prior to assuming the presidency.

armenian genocide

A box that contains bones of Armenians who were killed in Syria during their exodus from persecutions by the Ottoman Empire in 1915 are displayed at the Vank Cathedral in the historic city of Isfahan, some 250 miles south of the capital, Tehran, on April 20.

There is real concern in Turkey that legal ramifications of calling the 1915 massacres a “genocide” could lead to costly reparations.

In a recent column in the Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper known for its staunchly pro-government rhetoric, one columnist wrote that the genocide claimed by Armenians is just a ruse by the Armenian diaspora and descendants in Turkey to tear apart the country and take over Turkish territory.

While Turkey in recent years has taken more conciliatory steps towards addressing the killings of Armenians, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan making what was considered to be a groundbreaking speech last year in which he offered condolences to the descendants of those killed, tempers have recently flared.

With the lead-up to the 100-year anniversary, Turkey has furiously defended itself from genocide claims, lashing out at the Pope and the European Parliament for their views on what is widely seen as a systematic slaughter.

“Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it,” Pope Francis said earlier this month after calling the killings the first genocide of the 20th century. Ankara then recalled its ambassador from the Vatican.

Turkey’s Erdogan dismissed the genocide debate, just as the European Parliament voted on April 15 to call the events of 1915 a genocide.

On Wednesday, Turkey said it was pulling its ambassador to Austria over the debate.

While Turkey acknowledges that some Armenians died — calling them casualties of war, disease and chaos of the time — the state says that since the deaths were not methodically planned to wipe out Armenians, it does not add up to genocide.

“It is out of the question for there to be a stain, a shadow called ‘genocide,’ on Turkey,” Erdogan said last week.”

Nick Wing in Washington, D.C., and Burak Sayin in Istanbul contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to clarify that while Germany does not currently call the Armenian massacres a genocide, it is expected to do so soon.

How borders changed in Europe in the last 1,000 years?

Apparently, this video of the evolution of borders change in Europe in the last 1,000 years has been removed or deleted.

Probably from many inaccuracies denounced in the comments. This post is to relate the story as I know it, since I love history and know a great deal.

At the turn of the first millennial, Poland was the richest, most cohesive and united “catholic” kingdom in the eastern part of Europe. Poland checked Russia expansion and saved Vienna from the Ottoman siege, in the nick of time.  The large Ottoman army faced one of the worst climate handicap: It was unusually cold and rained for months on: the soldiers were ill fitted and had to march in the mud.

East Germany was a collection of Teutonic tribes and eventually it formed Prussia and expanded during Frederic “The Great” in the 18th century.

West Germany of before the fall of the Berlin Wall, was mostly small states shifting allegiance to either the Hapsburg Empire (Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Netherlands) or France.

Napoleon Bonaparte was the catalyst in raising the patriotic spirit in West Germany when he forced recruits in the failed Great Army that invaded Russia in 1812, and the small states started mass uprising and used the current flag.

Bismark capitalized on this new patriotism and united all of current Germany and expanded to include Poland and the Alsace and Lorraine provinces in France and transformed Germany to become the second industrial country after the USA with the most powerful land army in Europe.

Crimea borders also changed: It is now attached to Russia.

Crimea was part of the Ottoman Empire. Catherine II of Russia expanded greatly her southern territory at the expense of Turkey.

The territory of the Tatars, called the Golden Horde, was captured by Ivan The Terrible as Tamerlane had weakened this Horde in the early 15th century and burned all their towns and cities along the Volga River (mainly current Ukraine).

Tamerlane is also the warrior who defeated the Ottoman Empire and delayed the fall of Constantinople by 50 years. In a sense, saving Renaissance Europe and permitting Russia to expand. His dynasty built the Mogul Empire in India.

Peter “The Great” of Russia finally managed to defeat the young and indomitable king of Sweden and expanded westward, annexed the 3 Baltic small States of Latvia, Lithuania… and built St. Peters-burg and expanded southward toward the Ottoman Empire but failed to retain what he captured.

France was united under Louis 11 who defeated the powerful and rich king of Burgundy Jean “Le Temeraire”. Burgundy included east of France, Belgium and part of Germany.

The English occupied the western part of France for over a century before Joan of Arc started the re-conquest in the 15th century.

Throughout the next 3 centuries, France was the dominant military power in land and had a powerful navy too. France expanded its colonies after 1870 toward West Africa and the Far East.

Cromwell of England focused his energy on building a powerful navy and annexed Scotland and Ireland. England became the main sea power until WWII and was the nemesis of Germany, which supplanted England as the major exporter oversea before WWI.

Italy was a collection of mini-states after 400 AC and was occupied, its rich cities sacked and Rome burned several times. Venice and Genoa were the main sea traders and were constantly at each other throats.

France occupied the northern part of Italy in several occasions and entered Rome. It was the devastation of Rome that permitted most of the artists, educated and architects of the Renaissance period to spread all over the other European cities and kingdoms and played the catalyst for reforms.

Napoleon Bonaparte occupied Italy before he was named First Consul in 1800 and defeated the Austrian armies in several battles and snatched Venice and part of current Croatia from the Hapsburg Empire.

England gave land concessions to Italy before WWI: England had decided to wage war against Germany (the second industrial nation after the USA) and was trying hard to rally countries against Germany.  England offered Italy to annex Albania, Libya and Ethiopia. As England allowed France to annex Morocco. Giving lands that it never had, such as Palestine to the Zionist Jews…

Prussia and Russia started to nibble on the Austrian Empire until its vanished after WWI.

Spain united in the 15th century and dislodged the last city of the “Arabic” Empire in Andalusia. The Pope of Rome divided the world into two parts for the new colonial powers of Spain and Portugal. Portugal had already colonized many regions in the Pacific Ocean and in South East Asia.

The ruin of the Spanish fleet “The Armada” in its attempt to invade England during Elizabeth I had weakened Phillip II of Spain who was the most powerful monarch in Europe in the 16th century.

It was mainly the Spanish fleet that checked and defeated the Ottoman navy that handicapped any further expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.

The Ottoman Empire had already annexed all the regions around the Black Sea (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Crimea, Turkmenistan and Romania…)  and occupied Bulgaria, Albania, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and half of Hungary. Not counting all the Near East, Egypt, the Arabic Peninsula and the North African provinces

Watch as 1000 years of European borders change

Note: Vladimir Putin worked out the Crimea problem by attaching it to Russia instead of declaring Crimea an independent State.

Apparently, under Ottoman Empire treaty with Catherine the Great, if Crimea declares independence it returns to Turkey

Is it Ethical? Using Trumped-up diary-forms to describe acts of genocide?

I posted this review of the French  book “I killed Armenians” by Jean-Claude Belfiore and received a comment by the author related to Note #6.

Note 5: The French author Jean-Claude Belfiore is from an Armenian mother and a Sicilian father. He published “Hannibal: An unbelievable destiny” The author did his best to fool the reader that the book is a genuine diary written by an actual Turkish officer Azil Kemal. The cover features an old picture of a Turkish officer, and throughout the book the author made sure to give the impression that the story was extracted from a diary.

The introduction informed us that the diary covered 4 block-notes, 100-page each, and written in Turkish but with Armenian characters! And that Azil was married to the Armenian Anzi and had a one year old son Erol-Hagop (Jack). At the end of the novel and in Italic the author mentions that it very probable that Hagop died a martyr with the French Resistance FFI in 1944 at the age of 20…

Note 6: It is infuriating to the reader to notice the great trouble that an author takes to fool the buyer. After the first two chapters, it become obvious that it is a novel written in a diary form. It is highly improbable that an officer under so much stress can write about his adventure extensively, clearly, smoothly and with minute details. Let alone insert very funny dialogues. A believable diary is an exercise to relieve the anxieties and frustrations of a person who needs to let a big load off his shoulders. You jot down a few sentences to remind you of the events for later editing.

Jean-Claude Belfiore  responded (an abridged translation from French):

“The Journal is a literary genre that many authors succumbed to such as (Sartre, Camus, Stevenson, Vittorini, Gide, Jules Verne, Genet, Mirbeau, Bernanos etc.!) In no case was the reader duped, and never did the author considered the reader an idiot.

It is as if you reproach the author of a detective novel to force the reader to believe that the murder really took place… Even a real diary of Anne Frank was rearranged to be legible.

Actually, I wrote in the first few pages “The back of the pages (of the diaries) were used for correction, a proof that the narrator was editing in a critical spirit“. It is possible to imagine that Azil Kemal edited his text. Your definition of a diary is reductive.”

Frankly, I was duped till the third chapter. I have this tendency of reading first the last chapter and then the introduction. In this case, and the succinct descriptions of the massacres in the early chapter led me to believe that this diary was genuine with some arrangement… By the third chapter I had my doubt since the book began to explain and expand on issues “essay fashion“. I fell back to back cover for the summary and was instructed that this was just a novel.

I was duped because I wanted to read a single diary written by a genuine Turkish author during that horrendous period.

My position is that when the diary-form concerns act of genocide, it is very much ethical to warn the reader upfront in the introduction, and in bold caption

This is a fiction novel and the diary is not genuine.” If the author relied on a few eye-witness accounts and other diaries for his novel, it is imperative to let the reader know. Genocide is a highly serious matter to use trumped-up diaries for political objectives.

The Irish independent leader Michael Collins said “Terrorism is effective only in democratic institutions where it can change people’s opinion”

Belfiore novel can be considered a form of terrorism to alter readers’ opinion of what took place a century ago, and pressure the French government to demand from Turkey a public apology… France parliament passed the label of Genocide to the mass massacre against Armenians.  That would be great if Turkey does apologize. However, it is my feeling that Belfiore adopted this trumped up form as a literary counter-terrorism terror…

If it were not for the early chapters, I don’t think I’ll make such as fuss.

Otherwise, the novel is a good eye-opener of how and why genocide of Armenians in Turkey could slip by during WWI.

The few events of genocide described may most probably occurred from doing a few research, but the stories are too harsh for not warning the readers of the fictitious nature of the stories.

I like to remind that people “fast read” and very few read the introduction.

The cover got me fooled and I felt duped: I wanted to read genuine diaries of that period.

This said, I don’t mind reviewing this book with a couple more posts.

Note 1: Ironically, the author preferred the accurate title “I killed Armenians” as in my second posts Part 2, instead of the first title “I committed genocide…. Why? The term genocide was coined in 1944, and it does not fit a diary written in 1915. There is no doubt in my mind that the author meant “genocide”, and that the novel main objective was political in nature.

Note 2:  The Ottoman Empire was one the mildest empires in matters of religious animosities in the earliest 2 centuries. It had the vastest diversity of sects and cults. The Empire opened its borders to the Jews who were persecuted in Spain under the Inquisition.  It was the aggressive Shias Safavid Persian Empire in the 18th century that opened the war of expansion eastward to the Ottoman Empire. The latest genocide against the Armenians was based on centuries of consistent lack of “loyalty” of the Armenians to the Ottoman Empire, and siding exclusively with every Russian expansion at the expense of the Turkish territories.  This attached link is not meant as an apology for genocide, but to comprehend the causes so that people endeavor to reform the political and social structure before the ineluctable befall a nation

Note 3: Since antiquity, tribes massacred tribes for the loot. Military generals assassinated entire towns to establish terror and make the advance easier.

Genocide is a modern trend of acute brutality. Genocide began in the early 15th century as the Portuguese and Spanish conquistadors expanded their territories overseas, annihilating entire civilization under the guise of Christianizing the barbarian infidels.

The USA attained the climax in genocide activities over 2 centuries: “A good Indian is a dead Indian

In the last century, every colonial power such as England, France, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Israel… endeavored to learn the most efficient methods and techniques for executing mass genocide. The motto of the extermination was “If anyone of these unwanted races escaped genocide, then the plan was a failure…”




May 2023

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