The Levant: A Fractured Mosaic

The Levant: A Fractured Mosaic

by William Harris

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At the outset of the 21st century, perhaps the most interesting feature of the Levant (in Arabic, Bilad al-Sham), in the midst of an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim Arab world, is the command of the entire coastal zone from Cilicia south to Sinai either by non-Arabs or by Arabs who are not Sunni Muslims. This reality overshadows the Levantine interior. In the central Levant the mountain has come to town with the Alawi political ascendance in Damascus in the south, Israeli military and economic power dominates the Palestinians and Jordanians. The transformation in less than a century is remarkable. The revolutionary alteration in the affairs of the Levant through the 20th century has obviously caused great tension. The character and viability of all of the new states created in Bilad al-Sham since 1920 is in continuous flux; national, ethnic, and sectarian frictions have shaped the contemporary geopolitics of the region. These frictions play themselves out in a setting characterized by limited space, rising population pressure, resource shortages, and international strategic interest. In the north, the Arabs face the Turks, who command the main water source. In the center, Lebanon and Syria have yet to settle their identities and interrelationship in a situation of regime insecurity, sectarian sensitivity, and economic crisis. In the south, the confrontation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs lurches toward some sort of denouement. A Fractured Mosaic attempts an overall assessment of the contemporary affairs of the Levant, in the context of the history of the region since Roman times.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558764514
Publisher: Wiener, Markus Publishers, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/28/2008
Edition description: Updated 2015 Edition
Pages: 260
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

List of Mapsvii
Chapter 1The Strategic Geography of the Levant1
Vulnerable Frontiers4
Strategic Pivot8
Internal Fragmentation15
Population Growth, Limited Resources, Compressed Space21
Panorama: From the Romans to the Ottomans27
Chapter 2Rome, Islam, and Byzantium31
The Roman Levant31
Umayyads and 'Abbasids46
The Byzantine-Fatimid Standoff58
Seljuk Turkish Intervention65
Chapter 3Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans71
Crusaders and Muslims71
Mamluk Supremacy88
The Ottoman Levant103
The Jews of the Levant from the Islamic Conquest to Zionism119
Chapter 4The Modern Levant123
Overview, 1918-2002124
Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arabs137
The Arab Levant States152
Turkey in the Levant: The New Byzantium?165
Epilogue: What's Next in the Levant?171
Index of Names208
About the Author212

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