Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘war-like empires

Lions and lionesses ancient Empires

Posted on September 19, 2008

Mind you to pay close attention to the footnotes.

 Major civilizations built empires and cities along major rivers such as the Nile, Euphrates, Tiger, Indus (Pakistan), Ganges (India), and the Yellow River in China.

The best approach to explaining the succession of civilizations and Empires in the Fertile Crescent (Greater Syria) that raided and conquered the Near East civilizations such as in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria (Phoenicia, Canaan, Aram) is the analogy of survival among the lions and lionesses.

Young lions that attained two years, after being chased out of the clan, prowl the region for lionesses to mate and establish clans of their own.

Old lions are attacked and displaced and the cubs are eaten and slaughtered by the new King in order to quickly attract the lioness in heat and then new progenitors are formed. 

The lioness fights valiantly to preserve her cubs, but ends up giving up. 

Since a lion lives on average to be 10 year-old, while the lioness can outlive him by 7 years and manages to diffuse many progenitors of her owns, then the survival of these mammal carnivores is mainly due to the survival of the lionesses.  The lionesses chase and bring meat to the Lion, the clan and care for the cubs.

Almost all the ancient civilizations in the Middle East, the Nile River of Egypt excluded, were established along the Fertile Crescent longing the main Rivers of Litany, Al Assi, Euphrates and the Tiger (for example, the people inhabiting Lebanon, Syria, the southern part of Turkey, the Western part of Iran and Iraq).

The warrior Empires were Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Pharaonic Egypt, Hittite, Greek, Seleucia, Roman, and later Byzantium, Sassanid, Arab (Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid), Seljuk, Crusaders, Mamelukes, and Ottomans.

The young male lions from emerging warrior Empires, during their conquests and expansion, reclaimed the civilized glory and achievements of the Near East people as their own proper. 

The Near East people were constantly behaving like the lionesses: they first fight the good fight for their cubs, and when they inevitably fail against the young lions, then they mate with the conquerors after the invaders had tried to kill all their progenitors.

A few citizens of City-States like Sidon and Tyre, and much later Carthage, burned down their cities and then set fire on themselves to avoid servitude and surrender.

While the young occupying lions were strutting and showing off in the regions, and adapting to the new civilizations, it was the constant duty of the lionesses to chase and bring the meat to the table and care for the household.

The Near East people were bringing the food to the tables of the invaders and caring for the glamour and wants of the occupation forces, whose sole job was to make war and killing on their war paths.

I read chapters from an Arabic book by Georges Masroua.  Masrou3a asked an archeologist about the Achmoun Temple in Sidon “Saida”, built around 550 BC.  The foreign archeolog replied that it was a Persian design from King Kourosh I period. Masroua then asked the archeologist why he claimed that it is Persian, and the latter said because that is what the archeology archives claim to be.

Fact is, Persia had no such Temple at Kourosh time. Even if the Persian King paid for the monuments and palaces at the expense of the invaded people, that should not be a basis to claim achievements of other civilizations.

This is the same repeated story with the temples in Baalbek.  The archeologists would claim that it was the work of the Romans since 200 BC, but if this monument was of Roman style and glory, then why the Romans failed to build something close to it in Rome or in Italy?

We have the same contentions for the impressive horse track and humongous amphitheater in Tyre (500 by 200 meters) that was built before 500 BC according to Herodotus. If this amphitheater was the work and style of the Romans, then why did the Roman wait another three centuries to build their Coliseum?

The same goes to the Jerusalem Temple even though the architects, builders and foramen and craftsmen and master workers were from Tyre during King Hiram or “Ahiram”.

Euclid, Zeno, Plotin, Tales, Homer, Pythagoras and scores of great thinkers were born and lived in our coastal City-States stretching from Palestine to Turkey such as Akka, Tyr, Sidon (called the eldest son of Canaan in the Bible), Beirut, Byblos, Ugarit, Antakya, and so on and yet they were labeled as Greeks.

Is it simply because we were under Greek dominion that our famous thinkers should be Greeks, simply because they learned the Greek language, even if they didn’t enjoy the privileges of Greek Athens citizens?  Scores of our famous people were labeled Romans simply because we were under Roman hegemony.

For example, the eminent legal masters during the third century Papinian and Olympian lived in Beirut (Beryt); Olympian is indeed the martyr of jurists because he adamantly refused to offer a legal opinion in favor of Emperor Caracalla for killing of his brother Jetta. 

If this is the case, then why Jesus is to be simply a Jew and not Roman?  And yet Jesus and his family were legally attached to the district of Tyr (current Lebanon) in the Seleucid empire. St. Paul was actually a Roman citizen, a title inherited from his father and great father and yet, Paul is said to be simply a Jew.

There is undoubtedly a systematic disinformation concerning the cultural heritage of the Near Eastern civilizations.

The Europeans, even before the Renaissance period, purposely have chosen to start their civilization from Ancient Greek in 600 BC because they claimed to be democratic nations and had to emulate the democratic system in Greek City-State Athens. 

Democracy was developed in the City-States of Byblos, Sidon, Tyr, Ugarit and Mary several centuries before Athens existed.  These City-States had democracy within their city limits as Athens and Rome emulated later on.

Why within city-State limits?  Because communication and transport were limited and the administration of such a complex democratic system was not feasible at a larger magnitude at the time. Thus, democracy was not translated to the colonies as Greek Athens also failed to do.

Theaters and plays, via their verbal communications, were the main medium for spreading democracy and the clashing of ideas of various opposition groups: plays created a citizen consciousness that is different from immediate civic consciousness of oratorical speeches. 

The Near Eastern civilizations were ahead of Athens several centuries in theater plays. Athens got the attention because a few of its written literatures were preserved and translated.  For example, Aeschylus wrote over 90 works but only 7 of his tragedies remained to prove the dynamics of Athens’ democratic system.

Although these City-States developed commercial empires, they never built theocratic warrior Empires because their citizens focused on civilized endeavors and opted in armed struggles to just defend their central Cities.

Athens managed to defend its civilization outside its City limits and even asked the cooperation of other Greek City-States like Sparta and the famous Thebes that the Phoenicians had built centuries before Athens existed, and which Alexander erased completely before launching his Asian campaign.

 We can confirm that the Near East region was the bedrock of all civilizations of the Mediterranean Sea in religion, philosophy, sciences, literature and arts.

Regardless of genetic sources, which are an amalgamation of many nations and which is not that important for the purpose of this article, anyone from current States in the Near East should take pride in their ancient civilizations and their original identity as the forefathers of contemporary modern democratic civilizations in Europe and the Greater Mediterranean Sea regions.

 Note 1:  Many USA and Western diplomats have described Lebanon during its civil war (1975-1991) as a special quarantine area, sustained by the super powers to retaining the quarantine, in order to prevent the spread of the Middle East social and political diseases of feudalism, sectarianism, tribalism, caste systems, and extremist ideologies in the Arabic and Islamic States to the surrounding and eventually the Western nations.

These diplomats failed to add the disease of apartheid which is the trademark of the colonial implant of the State of Israel. This quarantine lasted for more than 17 years and in the meanwhile the USA administrations in the 80’s and 90’s created, financed and trained a potent disease in Afghanistan.

Note 2: Every stated rescue mission to Lebanon was not meant for the stability and security of the Lebanese people, but for the purpose of larger strategic geopolitical interests in the Middle East with the land of Lebanon as a staging base.  It is the Lebanese who encouraged the other nations to look at them, not as a Nation, but as anonymous people of “pseudo-citizens“, living on a piece of land that the UN admitted among the “independent” States.

This is so because all the successive Lebanese governments never behaved as administering a Nation, but as fief hoods for sectarian leaders who rule over modern serfs. 

Even after an unimaginably lengthy and terrible civil war, which lasted 17 years, every single monster of war-lord was pardoned by a decree from the Parliament and the ferocious sectarian leaders were inducted into the successive governments and Parliaments to rule, control and govern the people.

Note 3: Arnold Toynbee said that for certain people, history necessarily repeat itself because they are lazy students. Most probably, it seems that history repeats itself because philosophical concepts or paradigms on life, death, the nature of Gods, free will, predestination keep repeating themselves.

The Lebanese certainly are not very hot on archiving their history and even less on reading and revisiting their past: we have the tendency to say that what is past is past and we don’t care but for the present, and how to live a good life.

This saying is true for the public consumption because, on the individual level, family feuds never vanish or are forgotten, or forgiven:  Grandchildren still hate the grandchildren of another family simply because they overheard that their grand-grand parents were in feud.

Lebanon and Palestine have suffered the same calamities of past history again and again.

These two States might never had a chance for lasting peace and stability.

The State of Syria could have fallen in the same trap because it was seriously targeted by the superpowers if this dictatorship in Syria didn’t manage to re-read its history and learn from past adversities at the expense of democracy.

Syria never managed to bed with theocratic systems, except the city of Damascus that generally rallied to central authorities.

In ancient history, the City-States in  “inland Syria” barely put up a fight to a powerful invader, and it learned to normally change skins and share in the dominion of the new Empire that displaced the former, as if Syria believed it was actually the new invader.

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 from military incursions for the duration, and consequently to forming a “homogeneous” society than mere “natural borders” can offer.

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, appropriate laws and concentrated efforts to achieve the universal application, if Not acceptance, of the official French language.

Second, a nation should manage to incite the majority of its citizens to acknowledge a civil 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 entire 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, then 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/Muslim 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, culture and customs… and that thanks to its open interior for easy trade and exchange.

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 slang “Arabic” 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, mainly wheat. 

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.

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?  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/us-administration-tacit-green-light-power-in-the-middle-east-shared-by-military-and-moslem-brotherhood-movements/

Note 3Tactics of scary random violence  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/scare-tactics-for-masses-on-the-move-arab-uprising/

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.


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