If we want to have a hint at what is the future of the West, in its relationship with the New World, it may be interesting to look at Lebanon history…….
“Lebanon’s civil war has been one of the most complex, multifaceted wars of modern times due to its hybrid nature, multiple participants (both state and non-state actors), and its impact on regional, and even global balances of power.”
“The period, starting in 1983, saw attacks against the U.S. and multinational forces deployed in Beirut, resulting in their pullout. It also saw the beginning of the infamous Western hostage crisis that continued throughout the 1980s.
The factions responsible for these acts–using the suicide bomber, a tactic that Shi’i militants would proceed to hone for the next two decades–were clandestine radical Shi’i Islamist groups with ties to Iran and under Syria’s protection. These groups began to emerge in the Shi’i milieu due in part to disillusionment with Amal. A breakaway faction, Islamic Amal, headed by Husayn Musawi, had already split from Amal in 1982. Aside from the religious element, there was also a regional and clannish element at play in the split, and Islamic Amal was based in the Biqa’. There it was soon joined by Iranian Revolutionary Guards dispatched via Syria. They set up base there after seizing an army barracks and created a zone of control in its vicinity in the Biqa’. The new Islamist organization was named Hizballah, “the Party of God.””
“Hizballah was and remains a militant Khomeinist Islamist movement that adheres to Khomeini’s doctrine of velayet-e-faqih, rule by a cleric in an Islamist state. Its ties to Iran are organic, multifaceted, and complex. The exact number of Hizballah’s fighting force, the Islamic Resistance, is not known with certainty. In 1997 one source placed it at 5,000 while another gave estimates between 500-600 core fighters and a reservist force of about 1,000. The number during the civil war was probably in the low hundreds. It did, however, attract defectors, including military commanders from Amal who were disillusioned with that party.”
“During the inter-Shi’i war that began in 1987, Hizballah was able to overrun most of Amal’s positions in Beirut, as Amal pleaded with the Syrians to interfere. Finally a deal was reached between the Syrians and the Iranians and the inter-Shi’i war ended with the deployment of the Syrians in west Beirut, but with Hizballah’s assets safeguarded.
As a result of another Iranian-Syrian agreement after the Ta’if Accord ended the Lebanese war, Hizballah was the only militia to be excluded from handing over its weapons under the pretext that it was a “resistance movement” fighting Israeli occupation. Since the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, and more so after the Syrian withdrawal in 2005, the fate of Hizballah’s armed status (which has grown massively and developed doctrinally, ironically, after the Israeli withdrawal) is the central issue in Lebanon today.”
“Before Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was compared to Switzerland, and its capital Beirut attracted so many tourists that it was known as “the Paris of the Middle East”. At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.“
“The region that is now Lebanon, as with the rest of Syria and much ofAnatolia, became a major center of Christianity in the Roman Empireduring the early spread of the religion. During the late 4th and early 5th century, a hermit named Maron established a monastic tradition, focused on the importance of monotheism and asceticism, near the Mediterranean mountain range known as Mount Lebanon. The monks who followed Maron spread his teachings among Lebanese in the region. These Christians came to be known as Maronites and moved into mountains to avoid religious persecution by Roman authorities.”
“During the 7th century the Muslim Arabs conquered Syria establishing a new regime to replace the Byzantines. Though Islam and the Arabic language were officially dominant under this new regime, the general populace still took time to convert from Christianity and the Syriac language. The Maronite community in particular clung stubbornly to its faith and managed to maintain a large degree of autonomy despite the succession of rulers over Lebanon and Syria.”
“During the 11th century the Druze faith emerged from a branch of Shia Islam. The new faith gained followers in the southern portion of Mount Lebanon. The Northern portion of Mount Lebanon was ruled by Druze feudal families to the early 14th century which was then brought to an end by the Mamluk invasion. The Maronite population increased gradually in Northern Mount Lebanon and the Druze have remained in Southern Mount Lebanon until the modern era. The South of current Lebanon (Jabal Amel), Baalbek and The Beqaa Valley was ruled by The Shia feudal families under the Mamluks and the Ottoman Empire. The major cities on the coast, Acre, Beirut, and others, were directly administered by the Muslim Caliphs and the people became more fully absorbed by the Arab culture.”
“Following the fall of Roman Anatolia to the Muslim Turks, the Byzantines put out a call to the Pope in Rome for assistance in the 11th century. The result was a series of wars known as the Crusades launched by the Franksin Western Europe to reclaim the former Byzantine Christian territories in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially Syria and Palestine (the Levant).The First Crusade succeeded in temporarily establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Tripoli as Roman Catholic Christian states along the coast. These crusader states made a lasting impact on the region, though their control was limited, and the region returned to full Muslim control after two centuries following the conquest by the Mamluks.”
“One of the most lasting effects of the Crusades in this region was the contact between the Franks (i.e. the French) and the Maronites. Unlike most other Christian communities in the eastern Mediterranean, who swore allegiance to Constantinople or other local patriarchs, the Maronites proclaimed allegiance to the Pope in Rome. As such the Franks saw them as Roman Catholic brethren. These initial contacts led to centuries of support for the Maronites from France and Italy, even after the fall of the Crusader states in the region.”
“Lebanon is the most religiously diverse country in the Middle East. As of 2014 the CIA World Factbook estimates the following: Muslim 54% (27%Shia Islam, 27% Sunni Islam), Christian 40.5% (includes 21% MaroniteCatholic, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Greek Catholic, 6.5% other Christian),Druze 5.6%, very small numbers of Jews, Baha’is, Buddhists, and Hindus. A study conducted by the Lebanese Information Center and based on voter registration numbers shows that by 2011 the Christian population was stable compared to that of previous years, making up 34.35% of the population; Muslims, the Druze included, were 65.47% of the population.
It is believed that there has been a decline in the ratio of Christians to Muslims over the past 60 years, due to higher emigration rates of Christians, and a higher birth rate in the Muslim population. When the last census was held in 1932, Christians made up 53% of Lebanon’s population. In 1956 it was estimated that the population was 54% Christian and 44% Muslim.”
“A demographic study conducted by the research firm Statistics Lebanonfound that approximately 27% of the population was Sunni, 27% Shi’a, 21% Maronite, 8% Greek Orthodox, 5% Druze, and 5% Greek Catholic, with the remaining 7% mostly belonging to smaller Christian denominations.
Other sources like Euronews or the Spanish diary La Razón estimate the percentage of Christians to be around 53%.
Because the relative size of confessional groups remains a sensitive issue, a national census has not been conducted since 1932. There are 18 state-recognized religious sects – four Muslim, 12 Christian, one Druze, and one Jewish.
The Shi’a residents primarily live in Southern Beirut, the Beqaa Valley, and Southern Lebanon.
The Sunni residents primarily live in Tripoli, Western Beirut, the Southern coast of Lebanon, and Northern Lebanon
The Maronite residents primarily live in Eastern Beirut and the mountains of Lebanon. They are the largest Christian community in Lebanon.
The Greek Orthodox, the second largest Christian community in Lebanon, primarily live in Koura, Beirut, Zahleh, Rachaya, Matn, Aley, Akkar, Tripoli, Hasbaya and Marjeyoun.”
“Article 11 of Lebanon’s Constitution states that “Arabic is the official national language. A law determines the cases in which the French language is to be used”. The majority of Lebanese people speakLebanese Arabic, while Modern Standard Arabic is mostly used in magazines, newspapers, and formal broadcast media. Lebanese Sign Language is the language of the deaf community. Almost 40% of Lebanese are considered francophone, and another 15% “partial francophone,” and 70% of Lebanon’s secondary schools use French as a second language of instruction. By comparison, English is used as a secondary language in 30% of Lebanon’s secondary schools. The use of French is a legacy of France’s historic ties to the region, including itsLeague of Nations mandate over Lebanon following World War I; as of 2004, some 20% of the population used French on a daily basis. The use of Arabic by Lebanon’s educated youth is declining, as they prefer to speak in French and English.
English is increasingly used in science and business interactions. As of 2007 the presence of English in Lebanon has increased. Lebanese citizensof Armenian, Greek, or Kurdish descent often speak Armenian, Greek, orKurdish with varying degrees of fluency. As of 2009, there were around 150,000 Armenians in Lebanon, or around 5% of the population.”
“The culture of Lebanon is the cross culture of various civilizations over thousands of years. Originally home to the Phoenicians, and then subsequently conquered and occupied by the Assyrians, the Persians, theGreeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Fatimids, the Crusaders, the Ottoman Turks and most recently the French, Lebanese culture has over the millennia evolved by borrowing from all of these groups. Lebanon’s diverse population, composed of different ethnic and religious groups, has further contributed to the country’s festivals, musical styles and literature as well as cuisine.”
“Despite the ethnic, linguistic, religious and denominational diversity of the Lebanese, they “share an almost common culture”. Lebanese Arabicis universally spoken while food, music, and literature are deep-rooted “in wider Mediterranean and Levantine norms”.”