Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘war-like empires

Political or civil mass disobedience movements? Case studies of Occupy Wall Street, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia…

Are secular and national concepts anathema to Arab/Islamic spirit?

Except in Egypt, it appears that most upheavals are fundamentally violent civil mass disobedience, (not true any longer in Egypt), with no clarity or viable pragmatic alternatives of why reforms and change are needed, and what alternative reforms should substitute the existing dictatorial system…

In Egypt, we had a political mass disobedience and the western nations are adopting the Egyptian non-violent strategy.  Mubarak is gone, but the regime is still alive, and the Egyptians might resort to civil disobedience if no reforms takes place very soon.

Many US officials and policy-makers blame former Egypt dictator Mubarak for fomenting many religious sectarian riots between the Sunni Moslems and the Christian Copts (10% of the population) during his long reign.

The tactic was to keep the Copts allied to his corrupt system in fear of the “Moslem Brotherhood” fanatics.

Actually, Mubarak didn’t have to go to so much trouble fomenting sectarian riots: All he had to do is sit tight and fail to intervene ahead of time since his widespread internal secret services had infiltrated all movements.

Mubarak was asked several times to review the terribly biased religious laws that deliver permits within a week to build a Mosque and requiring the Christians to wait 5 years for a permit to emerge.

The other sensible law was to separate building Mosque and Church by 200 meters. It turned out that by the time Copts got their permit “stamped”, the Moslem had built within the 200 meters of the potential allocated plot…

After Mubarak was evicted, nothing changed in the skewered religious treatments.

In early March, a church was burned in Halwan.

On May 7, three churches were burned in Embaba, resulting in 15 deaths and over 200 injured civilians.

On June 24, the fanatics among the “Moslem Brotherhood” movement attacked a church in Aswan.

On Oct. 5, the Copts demonstrated and the army dispersed the march violently.

On Oct. 9, the Copts reacted and tried another mass protest in Cairo that ended with 25 killed and 320 injured.  Two tanks ran over protesters and Moslems threw Molotov cocktail bombs on the Copt marchers.

The Egyptian military lied through its teeth:

First, not a single soldier was killed as it claimed; and

Ssecond, the official media harangued the Egyptians to descend in the street to support the military!  Mubarak would not stooped that low to confirm his authority.

The goal of the current military is to maintaining their hold on power, directly or indirectly.  The reasons for this mania are:

First, preserving all the previous advantages and benefits, and whatever review is to be for more power.

Second, sending the same signal, as during Mubarak, to the world community that only the army is in a position to maintaining security and unity.  Consequently, the military is ready to using heavy handed methods as the Mubarak regime to demonstrating its brute power…

The greatness of the Egyptian revolt is that it is still non-violent and the masses get to the streets at every critical junction:  They are ever ready to warn anyone in “power” that the revolt is never going to be over, until the common people have a say in the decision making process…

The other solid factor in the success of the Egyptian revolution is that the “elite class” is far less violent than their counterparts in almost all other Arabic/Islamic countries, and particularly in the Near East such as Syria, Iraq, Lebanon…and even in the western culture.

It is mainly a historical tendency and current heavy dense population in Egyptian cities…that remind street leaders of the consequences of inflaming the masses by violent means and rhetoric.

In a nutshell, historically, the Egyptian natives of the Nile Valley hardly opposed any occupation troops with arms.

In Syria, all war-like empires invaded the land, but never any occupation force managed to administer or centrally hold any power, not even the Romans or the Arabic/Islamic Empires.

Ask the French mandate power how it quickly withdrew from Syria: In revenge, France ceased valuable northern Syrian lands to Turkey in 1936 (the Alexandretta city and the strategic region of Adana).

Historically, Syria was mostly governed by intermediary tribes or coalition of tribes… The Emir of a city relied on youth hoodlums to tame virulent tribes, and this is what the Syrian regime is exactly currently applying. Those “shababs” of local militias paid by the regime will have the same destiny, if history repeats itself in Syria.

For example, in Syria, the son of Aleppo Mufti was assassinated by fanatic opposition extremists.  Not a single “insurgent: faction or opposition movement condemned this unnecessary assassination: They even declined to mention the event in public and discuss it.

A “deep terrifying silence” is hovering over the horror wrong-doing, according to Lebanese journalist Jihad el Zine. How could we expect a better alternative social/political system in Syria if what is happening in horror stories during this uprising is not discussed and stands taken?  How could we expect any peaceful transition to the Bashar el Assad clan regime?

How could we condemn a violent regime if the culture in society is not prepared and trained to act non-violently? Period.

This deep scary silence was witnessed in Lebanon after the Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon in 2005.  Scores of hard-working Syrian workers were assassinated in various districts in Lebanon, and not a single voice from the elite class or civic movements reacted to these barbarities. Actually, not a public official dared to lament the “revenge” behavior on Syrian civilians…

The brutal civil war in Libya has demonstrated the violent revenge reactions of the people.

Iraq is still suffering from suicide car bombing in crowded streets (random violence tactics) after the US occupation in 2003. What is happening in Yemen? Can anyone follow the story or the world community has given up on Yemen, as it had given up on Lebanon during 17 years of civil war?

There is this stupid excuse that current Sunni Moslem Brotherhood” movements are “moderate”.  Moderate in what?

Is saying that the women will not be subjugated to the same servile standards as in Saudi Arabia, the most obscurantist Wahhabi sect, a good enough proposal to enhancing freedom of opinion, liberty, and equal rights?

Can anyone point to a single Islamic movement, a majority religious sect in any country, coming to power and ever being defeated in any “democratic” election?

Do anyone believe that the “Moslem Brotherhood”  currently in power in Turkey can ever be defeated in election from now on?

Note 1: The topic on the Egyptian Copts’ tenuous situation was inspired by an editorial of Sarkis Naoum in the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.  Naoum visits the US frequently to interview officials, current and former, and policy-makers and foreign research institutes.

Note 2:  What is the new “democratic” alternative of the US in the Greater Middle East?

Note 3Tactics of scary random violence

Natural borders: what for? (November 21, 2008)

This short essay is sort of a detailed argument of the previous essay titled “A Nation, a State, or a redundant community?

Most thinkers and sociologists would like to consider natural borders as one of the essential main factors for the establishment of a Nation or a national identity.  I used to take this argument as a given until very recently.

My position is that the topology of the interior of a country is far more important to providing stability for the duration and consequently to forming a “homogeneous” society than mere natural borders.

Obviously, natural borders are excellent arguments in litigations in the UN or international borders disputes, but not that essential on their own merit to constituting a Nation without topography that discourages invasions and long term settlement of invading troops.

Before I substantiate my hypothesis it might be necessary to emphasize two more ingredients for the formation of a nation.

First, a nation should manage to enforce a central official language to the majority of its citizens, regardless of the various slang and other different languages spoken or written in various regions in the nation.  For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, France was still unable to enforce the official Parisian language in all its territory and had to resort to intensive investment and incentives in education and appropriate laws and concentrated efforts to achieve the universal acceptance of the official French language.

Second, a nation should manage to incite the majority of its citizens to acknowledge a religion, for example official recognition in the civil registers, regardless of their personal faith or other affiliations.  Saying that there is separation between the State and religion in functions and responsibilities is a State matter but does not relate to the constitution of a nation in the long run.

I will consider a few Nations in the “Greater Middle East” and Northern Africa regions dating back from Antiquity and then from the European Medieval Age.

Of all the multitude of Empires that dominated the Old World at certain periods only Iran (Persia) can be classified without ambiguity as a Nation.  Since the European Medieval Age we experienced the emergence of two other nations, Turkey and Morocco (it ruled Spain for over 5 centuries).

Before I resume my argumentation let me state that I consider Egypt as a recent nation that satisfies most of the criteria, but did not in history.  The fundamental question is: why the Empires of Babylon, Assyria, Akkad, Egypt, Greece, and Rome were unable to maintain the structure and cohesiveness of a nation even after many centuries of dominion?

I will refrain of analyzing the cases of Greece and Rome because that would divert the focus of this short essay.

Why the Empires that originated in present Iraq, Syria and Egypt failed to survive as a nation to our modern time?  These Empires dominated the Old World for many centuries and had centralized power structures and centralized official languages and managed to impose their brand of religion or close variations to their entire Empires.  What was lacking then?

The topology in the interior of Iraq, Syria and Egypt could not offer any substantial hardship to huge invading troops.

Once the invading troops crossed a natural barrier the whole county was opened for easy progress.  For example, “Greater Syria” (composed theoretically and according to natural borders of the current States of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan) had definite natural borders of high mountain chains north and north-east, desert in the south and south-east, and east, and the Mediterranean Sea in the west.  If we extended “Greater Syria” to include Iraq, the Arab/Persian Gulf would be the border in the east.  It seems that natural borders are not of major consequences if the interior is an open country.

The invading war-like Empires just needed to satisfy their curiosity of what is beyond the natural barriers to come in. The Persians, Egyptians, Turks, Greeks, Romans, and Arab/Moslem troops entered and conquered the land from all sides with no major resistance.

It seemed that “Greater Syria” was unable to unite and constitute a national army or a central government even though the population was mostly cohesive in language, religion, and culture.

What this region managed to form were hundreds of City-States, structurally centralized and well organized, but unable to come to a unified “need” for a Nation.  It seems that through history, these people recognized that they would never be able to stop the advance of war-like empires; it was much cheaper to open the City-States gates and then assimilate the commercial demands and wants of the invading Empires.

This policy permitted the civilization of “Greater Syria” to transform and change the cultures of the invading Empires in all domains. (Review my essay “Lions and Lionesses in the Fertile crescent“).  What is striking is, although Syria could never institute a political nation for any substantive duration, the populations in these States are more homogeneous culturally and linguistically than any currently established nation.

What is true to Syria is compatible to Egypt. Egypt had natural borders of deserts and seas but we cannot claim that it constituted a nation until recently due to demographic explosion, vast land, a majority of a religious sect, and common language.

The difference historically between Egypt and Syria is that the invading Empires were not interested in all of Egypt; suffice to secure transit commerce between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and the crops of the Nile River.  Syria was all interesting because of its rich City-States, skilled artisans, education, schools, commerce, and fertile lands;.

Syria was for the keep because of its hard working value-adding population!

That is why it was impossible for Syria to form a political entity because the war-like Empires wanted Syria at any cost.




December 2020

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