By Kamal Salibi

This day Lebanon is among the world's such a lot divided international locations - if it continues to be a rustic in any respect. yet mockingly the faction-ridden Lebanese, either Christians and Muslims, have by no means proven a keener attention of universal identification. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the gentle of recent scholarship, the historic myths on which his country's warring groups have dependent their conflicting visions of the Lebanese country. The Lebanese have continuously lacked a standard imaginative and prescient in their prior. From the start Muslims and Christians have disagreed essentially over their country's ancient legitimacy: Christians usually have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to stress Lebanon's position in a broader Arab background. either teams have used nationalist rules in a damaging video game, which at a deeper point consists of archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't have enough money those conflicting visions whether it is to enhance and continue a feeling of political group. during his vigorous exposition, Salibi deals a massive reinterpretation of Lebanese historical past and gives insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's fresh clash. He additionally provides an account of the way the pictures of groups which underlie sleek nationalism are created

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The Druzes therefore became resentful of the Maronites in a specific manner. The Melchites, however, were no less resentful of the Maronites as fellow Arab Christians, envying their uncanny ability to manipulate the Islamic rule even a t its most rigorous. It was actually among the Christian Arabs of Syria - not the Maronites, but the Melchites of Aleppo - that a rudimentary consciousness of Arabism first developed in modern times. As Christians, the Melchites followed the Greek rite. Under the Ottomans, their church in Syria had come to be controlled by a Greek upper clergy, under the influence of the Phanariot Greeks of Istanbul who were close to the centre of political power.

Separated from other Arab countries by desert, and having the potential of enjoying a rich revenue from oil, Iraq could become a country on its own more easily than the others, as it had indeed been in ancient times, in the days of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Internally, however, the Iraqis, apart from the Christian and Jewish minorities among them, were divided between Sunnites and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds. As King of Iraq, Faysal was surrounded by veterans of the Arab Revolt who had followed him to Baghdad in the flight from Damascus, and he himself never forgot his lost Syrian kingdom.

By willing not only a separate country but also a separate Lebanese nationality into existence, against the wishes of their neighbours and without the consent of people who were forced to become their compatriots, the Maronites and their overwhelmingly Christian supporters in Lebanon had broken the Arab consensus - more particularly, the Syrian Arab concensus - and they had to pay the price. This price was to be significantly heavier as the Maronites had actively solicited the help of France to achieve their ends; even more so, because they had knowingly exhibited a marked insensitivity to Arab frustrations around them.

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