Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Turkmenistan

Is Afghanistan Strategic? Ever more so, though too late for the USA… 

Did you hear of Carlos Bulgeroni?

There is great avidity for the oil and gas originating from Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kirghistan, and particularly Kazakhstan)

He is an Argentine entrepreneur, founder of Bridas, the 4th largest oil company in Latin America.

In 1992, Carlos snatched a couple of pipeline oil and gas concessions from Turkmenistan. One of the pipeline was to end in Multan (Pakistan port) and must cross Afghanistan from north to south and passing in the valleys of Afghanistan close to Kandahar. This was the $3 bn Daulatabad project.

Unocal (12th largest US oil company) and founded by Roger Beach join in the project. Unocal brought in the Saudi oil company Delta Oil in order to bypass the signed deal with Bridas.

Another planned pipeline was the Chardzhou pipeline joining Turkmenistan to Gwadar (Pakistan port on the Gulf) and crossing Afghanistan and passing close to Herat.

Otherwise, the pipelines had to cross Russia, Iran, and pass by Azerbaijan and eventually end on the Mediterranean Sea (Turkey and Syria)

In 1994, the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan fully supported the new militia forces of Taliban (Students in religion) in Kandahar on the premise that this force is not tribal and can bring security and stability to Afghanistan.

These students attended religious madrassa tightly linked to the Indian Koranic school of Deobandi, a sect that prohibits the cult of saints. This sect is mainly a Wahhabi brand of Sunni sect as predominant in Saudi Arabia.

Taliban did bring security and stability at the expense of everything else: freedom of opinion, of expression, of education, and denial of women’s basic rights… and demolishing all the monuments that are not related to their Wahhabi brand of Islam.

The only lukewarm condition of the US was to kick out Ussama bin Ladden and his Qaeda from Afghanistan.

The Taliban were happy to oblige, but they failed to reckon with the large web of Ussama in the Afghan’s fabrics.

Ussama decided to punish the US and started to plan the blasting of the World Trade Center (1996) and partially succeeded.

In September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers fell. Most of the kamikaze were Saudi Wahhabi.

Mind you that Ussama made sure that the strong leader Massoud of the Tajik forces in North-East Afghanistan is assassinated: He was trying to prevent the US from finding a unified front to launch its ground invasion.

Too late. Russia got hold of 90% of the oil and gas concessions in central Asia and signed deals with China to buy of the oil and gas for the next decade.

The central Asia pipelines are crossing Russia toward china and many of them are done and functional.

Note: The late Saudi Turki Al Faisal was the chief of Saudi secret services GID at the period and this monarchy has been supporting the terrorist Islamic factions for over 3 decades.

Currently, these factions are pissed off with their “monarchy and the 5,000 princes” who used and abused of them for so long and refuse to admit them back home after serving in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Syria… Saudi Arabia is about to brace for a civil war, with trained and extremists “revolutionaries”, more obscurantist than their monarchy.

Yesterday, the monarch Abdullah announced that the former minister of the interior and GID chief Mokri, the youngest son (35 of them) of the founder Saud bi Abdul Aziz, to become the third in line for the monarchy.




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And who are the Turks?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




May 2023

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