The Civil War of 1860 Essay Example
The Civil War of 1860 Essay Example

The Civil War of 1860 Essay Example

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The Civil War of 1860 culminated a period of political chaos in Mount Lebanon that had begun with the exile of the great Shihab Amir Bashir II in 1840. Despite attempts of the central Ottoman government to control the growing tensions between feudal sheikhs, peasants, Maronites, and Druzes, no solution was effectively implemented. In 1840 the Maronite clergy tried to fill the vacuum created by the Shihab Amir Bashir's exile and promoted a path to independence. Poor diplomacy versus the Druze led to clashed with one time allies as they were regarded as "mistrusted aliens" in the Mountain (Abraham,18).

The Druze, therefore, aligned with the Ottomans and the Maronites were faced with a two-sided battle. The Druze preferred to be an autonomous minority in the Ottoman Empire rather that under Maronite domination (Abraham,103). From 1840 to 1860 the Maronite esta


blishment began to chart a course which led to the clash with the remnants of Druze power over the total control of Lebanon and the Ottoman Empire over Lebanese independence. The Druze had begun uprisings against the ineffective administration since the 1830s.

Ibrahim Pasha's establishment of a monopolization economic policy planted seeds of dissatisfaction and many Muslims were unwilling to accept his policy of equality. Disarmament and conscription of the Druze brought grievances because it created shortages of man power and integration with Sunnis they feared would lead to repudiation of Druze beliefs amongst the recruits (Abraham,18). This ultimately led to open revolt in 1838. The Druze proceeded to rebel again in 1841 and 1845. On the 29th of October 1845 the Reglement of Shakib Efendi was concluded to resolve the civil war occurring between the Druze an

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Under this Reglement, Lebanon remained divided into Druze and Christian kaymakamates, each with its own majlis (consultative council) composed of Maronite, Druze, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Sunni, and an adviser for the Shi'i. This council had two functions: the administration of taxes and hearing judicial cases. This limited the power of the feudal system. Shakib Efendi sought to weaken local forces and reintegrate Lebanon under Ottoman control. This was carried out by attempting to collect weapons and, thereby, disarm the locals, while providing compensation as an indemnity for their losses.

The Reglement was geared to reintegrate the empire, weaken European influence, and reduce local authority. In fact, the internal rift between the Maronites and the Druze's struggle for power between competing factions provided greater room for European interference (Abraham,76). The importance of this reglement in the history of Lebanon is that it implied the recognition of the special administrative status of Lebanon and was the first step to modernizing the administration (Hitti,436).

Upon Shakib Efendi's return to Istanbul, the Christians and Druze began to revert to their old ways and fiscally abused the peasants. They effectively resisted any administrative changes. After 1845 the Druze-Ottoman alliance was a "marriage of convenience" opposing Maronite independence movements. The relationship was unsteady, however, and was littered with an antagonistic undercurrent. The climax of Druze antagonism came in 1852 due to a call for conscription into the Turkish army.

The Ottomans struck the Druze, but with European interference (France urged di?? ente) the Ottomans recoiled and left the Druze to their sphere in Mount Lebanon. After this point the Druze continued to press their influence in the Ottoman government and in 1857 Istanbul

appointed Khurshid Pasha (a Druze) as governor of Sidon. By late 1857 the Druze in the south of Lebanon increased their antagonism toward the Christians. The northern districts were engaged in a struggle between the Maronite peasants and feudal families with the French and Austrians aiding the peasants. Meanwhile, the Turks played both sides of the fence, waiting to co-opt the winner.

In the meantime, the Maronite campaign for dominance began with the attempt to extend their control to areas where the Druze had traditionally maintained political dominance. The Maronites were also experiencing a period of internal weakness and strife at this time. The Maronite peasant revolt was first supported by Patriarch Bulus Masad, but then he began to act as a mediator to limit the rebellion's destructive impact on Maronite unity. The Maronite clergy saw Tanyus al-Shahin as a threat to the authority of the clergy as well (Abraham,103).

The Druze ultimately would use this lack of unity to strike the Maronites. The first stirrings of Maronite unrest began in 1857 with the uprising of the Kisrawan peasants. The events leading to this peasant revolt in 1858 were numerous. In 1854 Bashir Ahmad Abu'l-Lam succeeded Haydar Abu'l-Lam as the Christian kaymakam. This was decided with British and French consent at the behest of his own people who saw him as a Turkish agent and thereby was generally not supported. The Maronites had been suspicious of him as he was born a Druze. Similarly the Druze did not accept him because of his conversion to a Maronite.

The Greek Orthodox had expected one of their own sect to receive the title. The Khazins, who were the feudal sheikhs

of the Kisrawan. They refused to accept Bashir as their superior and, thereby, resented his family's status (Fawaz, 110) All worried of the possible development of a dynasty of the Abu'l-Lams. Bashir incited further hatred by impinging on the rights and privileges of the Khazins by assuming control over matters previously handled by the feudal sheikhs. The Maronite aristocracy was similarly displeased with the treatment of feudal sheikhs.

Bashir III engaged in the Ottoman game of playing one sect off the other and began to incite the Maronites against the Greek Orthodox by allowing unjust treatment of the Greek Orthodox at the hands of the Maronites. The British were also displeased with Bashir Ahmad Abu'l-Lam because of the Maronite-French alliance and feared the loss of British influence due to this shift in power. As a result, they turned against him and supported his opponent, Bashir Assaf Abu'l-Lam, who was also supported by the Khazins and Hubaysh feudal sheikhs. In 1857, a rebellion in Zahleh broke out.

The Greek Catholics detested the rule of the kaymakam and sought to dislodge him from power in a sort of proletariat revolution. They elected a sheikh shabab (young chief) to manage the affairs of the uprising. As a result, the sheikhs clashed and both were punished by the kaymakam. This set and example for the Christian rebellion in Kisrawan (the first of which began in Ghazir) and other cities against the repressive feudal sheikhs. By the end of 1857 the Khazin and Hubaysh sheikhs rallied with Bashir Assaf and began a "campaign of agitation" against the kaymakam. (Salibi,83)

In May 1858 a general rally was held in Zuq al-Kharab (in Kisrawan) and

a delegation was sent to complain to the European consulates in Beirut about the need for justice against the repressive feudal sheikhs. In the end, this came to naught as Khushid Pasha of Sidon was an ally of the Druze, not the Maronite elite. During the second rally in the village of Bhannis, near Brumanna (where the kaymakam lived), Bashir Ahmad Abu'l-Lam was forced to escape to Beirut and effectively lost control due to the confusion within the Christian districts with the feudal sheikhs challenging Bashir's authority.

Meanwhile, the peasants were preparing to rebel against the feudal sheikhs, further adding to the chaos that would ensue in the following two years. Bashir Ahmad returned to Brumanna only upon the order of Khurshid Pasha with the escort of Ottoman troops to protect him. This was symptomatic of the upheavals of power occurring in the region between 1840 and 1860. In the late summer of 1858 there was a meeting between the Khazin and peasants of Ajultun (in Kisrawan) to discuss the peasants' grievances. The Khazins were unresponsive to their demands and made threats against the people.

This further added to the turmoil and the Khazins were subsequently attacked, beaten, and forced to flee their homes (Salibi,87). Upon the inability of the Khazins to gain Christian and Druze allies they reopened negotiations with the peasants who increasingly demanded more drastic reforms than the Khazins were willing to concede. Meanwhile, the Sheikh Shabab of Ajaltun, Tanyus al-Shahin gained influence and prestige among the people, whereupon, in 1859, the peasant revolt began in earnest. The Khazins appealed to Khurshid Pasha for intervention, yet he made no effort to restore order.

The peasants

were, thus, successful in exiling the Khazins from the district. Tanyus al-Shahin was backed by the Ottoman authorities in Beirut, the French consulate, and the Maronite Patriarch Bulus Masad (though his influence on the situation was greatly ineffective). By the fall of 1858 the Khazins had been completely evicted from Kisrawan and Tanyus al-Shahin became the de jure authority in the territory. He redistributed the wealth of the Khazins to the people. The success of this movement further encouraged peasants throughout Lebanon to revolt, as the cases of al-Shuf, Gharb, and Jurd illustrate (Hitti, 435).

In the Druze regions, however, the peasants were less willing to rise against the Druze feudal sheikhs and warned against the imminent threat of Christian insurgence. Where rebellions did break out, the Druze feudal sheikhs were able to contain them. The factionalization of Maronite power is, thus, exhibited by this contrast and added to the deficiency of the ability for the Maronites to defend themselves against the Druze insurrection of 1860. By late 1859 Druzes and Christians began violent outbreaks against one another due to Christians' attempts at inciting the expulsion of Druze feudal sheikhs.

Despite previous support for Maronite insurrection, Patriarch Bulus Masad forbade violent attacks. Bishop Tubiya 'Aun, on the other hand, encouraged Christians to expel the feudal sheikhs and organized the Young Men's League to raise funds and buy arms for the Maronite cause. Henceforth, he distributed these materials to co-religionists in the region. The Bishops planned to excommunicate any refusing to aid in the struggle and the stringently promoted Maronite unity. Greek Catholic Christians sought the aid of Tanyus al-Shahin and strengthened themselves by organizing in armed bands

with uniforms.

Meanwhile, the Druze held consultations with Khurshid Pasha, began to unite and prepared. Ottoman authorities gave the Druze arms with English consent. In order to undermine the Maronite independence movements, the government in Beirut did not interfere. By late spring 1860, Christians were seized with panic and began abandoning villages and moving to strongholds such as Dayr al-Qamar, Jazzin and Zahleh. They left their houses to be pillaged and burnt, while those who could not escape fast enough were robbed.

On May 28,1860 Tanyus al-Shahin gathered three-hundred troops to protect the Shihab Amirs in B'abda and al-Hadath (southeast of Beirut). The Shihabs, at the behest of Khurshid Pasha, recalled al-Shahin's protection because Khurshid Pasha had agreed to protect them. As soon as al-Shahin's forces withdrew, however, the Druze attacked the district, as signaled by the Ottoman troops. By the 30th of May the entire Christian population had fled to Beirut; B'abda and al-Hadath were looted and plundered by the Druze and Turkish troops. At this early stage of the fighting there were few deaths and the many fugitives fled to Beirut.

Among those killed were the Shihab Amirs and Amir Bashir III. Europeans and Americans were outraged at the onslaught of violence in Lebanon and called upon Khurshid Pasha to denounce the hostilities and intervene to stop the conflict (Salibi,93). In addition foreign nations organized relief programs in Beirut to mitigate the humanitarian crisis caused by the huge influx of the internally displaced Christians. Despite the Pasha's calls for the Druze to end warfare and Christians to disarm, the Druze, encouraged by their victory, continued their attacks.

The Druze had advantages in this war despite being outnumbered

(50,000 to 12,000) and attacked by surprise. The Christians were poorly organized, lacked discipline, and were without a trusted leadership. The Christian cowardice reflected the fear of all Christians in the Ottoman Empire at this time. The affluence of the Christian populations and Ottoman reform decrees angered Muslims and fanaticism took hold. As a result, the Christians believed that only European intervention could serve their cause (Fawaz,132). On June 1, 1860 the Druze attacked Dayr al-Qamar despite the citizens' espousal of peace and friendship.

On June 2nd they surrendered to the Druze with the Turkish troops and governors doing nothing to stop them. On June 3rd Tahir Basha, the commander of the Turkish troops in Beirut, ordered the withdrawal of the Druze. The Druze did so only after burning 130 houses. This was not the end of Dayr al-Qamar's suffering, however, as the Druze returned on June 20th and the city was decimated. Meanwhile, on June 1, 1860 the district of Jazzin was attacked by 2000 Druze, despite assurances by the Druze leadership of Christian safety.

Unable to defend themselves, the people of Jazzin fled as the Druze killed 1500, many of them while in flight to Sidon. The fugitives of Jazzin were subsequently refused entrance into Sidon and were attacked and robbed by Muslim sects. This violence was extended into the region of Damascus. In Wadi al-Taym (in the vilayet of Damascus), inhabited by Druze and Greek Orthodox Christians, Salim Shams (a Druze) supported by Said Janbalat (the supreme leader of the Druze) began to challenge the Sunni Shihabs.

As this uprising began, Turkish troops, led by Ahmad Bey, arrived to quell the Druze activity by punishing

and imprisoning Druze rebels. The revolt, thus, ultimately failed. Soon after, however, Ahmad Bey was replaced by Uthman Bey who was quickly won over by the Druze. Deteriorating relations between the Druze and Christians was due to the refusal of the Christians to rise against the Shihabs or aid the Druze in the removal of Ahmad Bey (Salibi,97). In the meantime the Shihab Amir began to build a Christian coalition to ensure his control.

In the early spring of 1860 the Druze began to prepare for a "war of religion" against the Christians in Wadi al-Taym (98). The Christians, thus, began to make preparations and fled to Hasbayya where the Turkish garrison made them feel more secure. On June 3rd Hasbayya was surrounded and conquered as the Christians surrendered their arms at the request of Uthman Bey on June 4th. The Greek Orthodox and European consuls in Damascus pleaded with Ahmad Pasha to intervene to restore order, but instead he ordered the Christians to be released from the district and sent to Damascus.

Meanwhile, the Druze surrounded the fortresses of Hasbayya and Rashayya, refusing to let the Christians leave alive. Uthman Bey then ordered the Christians to guard the walls and "released" them by opening the gates (Salibi,100). Nine hundred and seventy Christians were subsequently slaughtered. On June 11th the Hawran chieftan, Ismail al-Atrash, joined the Druze forces and negotiated with the Turks to open the gates. They did and not one Shihabs or Christian was left alive. Five thousand troops proceeded to plunder all of the Biqa' valley's Christian settlements.

Gharb and Jurd accepted the protection of the Druze by paying them a homage tax. Of all

the Christian strongholds in Kisrawan, only Zahleh remained unconquered. Zahleh, fearing the worse, thus called upon Christian allies to support the town. Little support was garnered, however, as Yusuf Karam, with his large force, only came to Zahleh when it was too late. Expecting Karam's arrival, the Zahleh people had set out to meet the enemy in the Biqa' and on June 14th were badly beaten. As such, they retreated to Zahleh where there were 4000 armed men.

The Druze attacked on June 18th with 8000 troops and Zahleh wad defeated, yet saved from massacre. In order to better understand the internal situation of the towns incurring these attacks it is important to pause here and take case studies of Zahleh and Dayr al-Qamar. As Leila Fawaz asserts, forces other than sectarian divisions were at work during the civil war. Towns had become homogenous in sectarian terms so that sect and town became indistinguishable(Shehadi,49). Unbeknownst to many, Christians were often the instigators and provokers of conflict.

In Zahleh, residents were very proud of their prosperity and achievements as the regional center of trade. Zahleh was the largest commercial center in Mount Lebanon by the mid 1800s in grain production and livestock. The population in Zahleh was somewhere between ten and twelve thousand persons, primarily Greek Catholics. The society of Zahleh was composed of merchants, entrepreneurs, tax farmers, and advisers to the Sheikhs. It was essentially an agricultural economy with many peasants. A frontier mentality prevailed in the town as the people were exposed to political influences from Mount Lebanon and Damascus (Shehadi,52).

People came to Zahleh for protection and the location led to the need for a self-sufficient

aggressive attitude. Three thousand men bore arms. Zahleh fostered a sense of provincial "isolation, strategic vulnerability, and a superior attitude. " (Shehadi,53) They were a bigoted people and the enemy was defined in terms of religion of all against Greek Catholics. During the war, Zahleh fought aggressively, though they were often internally divided. They threw themselves into alliances and quarrels and ultimately "increased their reputation for courage, bellicosity, and foolhardiness. (Fawaz,141)

In fact, they often provoked the Druze and exemplified one of the few bravely fought battles and as a result, were spared from heavy losses of life. Only 100 to 700 people are said to have been killed. They had better morale because they put up a fight and this made reconstruction easier (Shehadi,57). They aggressively undertook lumbering in the region to rebuild. By the spring of 1861 the population had largely been recuperated with 6174 inhabitants and 2207 houses rebuilt. Dayr al-Qamar can be seen in direct contrast to the situation of Zahleh.

Both towns were dominated by a Christian population and subject to the same patterns of growth and social change during Western economic penetration. Their differences in their reactions during the civil war were resultant from the different local traditions and economic foundations (Shehadi,49). In Dayr al-Qamar there were approximately seven to ten thousand persons and the residents were more reserved. Under the Shihabs, especially Bashir II, Dayr al-Qamar grew and prospered. Raw silk production improved and the town served as a collection center and relay point between export towns and local producers.

Grain, livestock, textiles and cotton weaving were also important industries in Dayr al-Qamar. It was the richest town of Mount Lebanon,

served as the administrative center, was exempted from taxes and provided services to local sheikhs and amirs. The society of Dayr al-Qamar was much different than that of Zahleh. The people of the town were sophisticated, skilled artisans and craftsmen, apt in finance and small industry, open-minded, and thrived on compromise and conciliation due to their locale as a Christian enclave in the Druze heartland (Shehadi,53).

As prosperity increased the sectarian balance came increasingly in favor of the Greek Catholic community and they began to flaunt their wealth. They became anti-outsider and maintained an army of 800 to 900, though they mainly clung to compromise and tolerance. During the war, Dayr al-Qamar reacted with ambivalence and relied on the Turks, European consuls, and co-religionists in Beirut for protection. They, therefore, failed to adequately prepare and did not provoke the aggression that was imposed upon them.

Between 900 and 2000 were killed by the end of June of 1860 and only 400 people remained in the town. Morale suffered severely and made recovery much slower than it had been in Zahleh (Fawaz,143). Few leaders and wealthy elite returned to the town and it was not until French enforcements arrived that repopulation could commence. By April 1861, only 1343 people lived in Day al-Qamar, shops were slowly reopened and industry was gradually revived. In less than four weeks nearly 12,000 Christians were killed, 4000 more died from destitution, and 100,000 were left as homeless fugitives.

The Druze spoke of invading the Maronite district of Kisrawan and spoke of crossing to the northern kaymakamate. In Beirut, the Muslims threatened Christians and many fled to Maronite districts in the North or to

Greece and Egypt. On July 6,1860 Khurshid Pasha summoned the opposing leaders and presented them with a peace proposal that they both accepted. In this peace proposal, blame fell on the ineffectiveness of the double kaymakamate administration. Khurshid Pasha was charged with the control affairs of the region and reestablishing order and justice.

The peace ultimately favored the Druze and gave the Turks increasing control over Lebanon. This followed the arrival of three British warships (the Gannet, Mohawk, and Firefly), which began relief operations in the Christians regions. The British supported "collective intervention" in this conflict. Though the British had abandoned the Christians in Lebanon during the conflicts in 1845, in 1860 they sided with the Christians in order to pressure the Ottomans to control the situation in a just manner (Abraham,108).

The French encouraged the re-establishment of a Shihabi Christian hakim to rule Lebanon, thought his was never achieved. Despite truce in the Mountain, conflict continued in Damascus. On July 9th 5,500 Damascene Christians were slaughtered by the Muslims with the Ottoman governor, Ahmad Pasha doing nothing to stop it and, in fact, he abetted the massacre. Popular sentiment struck out because the Muslims believed the Sultan had issued orders to exterminate the infidels. Whole villages converted to Islam to escape persecution.

On July 16th the French ordered 7,000 troops to Beirut to help reestablish order and the Foreign Minister, Fuad Pasha, was sent to settle the affairs in Damascus and Mount Lebanon. In Damascus, swift action was taken to thwart the need for French intervention. One hundred and eleven Turks were executed for participating in the massacre, including Ahmad Pasha. On September 11th Fuad Pasha returned

to Lebanon to settle the affairs with the French General d'Hautpoul. Khurshid Pasha along with leading officers were subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

Twelve Druze leaders including Said Janbalat were sentenced to death but later regained their freedom. As a further measure, Fuad Pasha requested a list of Druze offenders from the Christians and 1200 were then arrested. No Christians would testify against them, however, and they were released. Judicially, the case was then closed as Fuad Pasha declared that no other complaints would be considered. An international commission was established in Beirut with representatives from Great Britain, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia) under Fuad Pasha to reorganize Lebanon.

After eight months, on June 9, 1861 an agreement was reached and signed in Istanbul known as the Reglement Organique. Lebanon was declared an autonomous Ottoman province under the guarantee of all members of the commission. This, only four days after General d'Hautpoul and his troops had left Lebanon. The terms of the Reglement Organique stipulated that the country would be stripped of Beirut, Biqa', Tripoli, and Sidon and these regions were to be governed by a Catholic Christian mutasarrif appointed by the Sublime Porte and responsible to the Sultan.

There was to be a local administrative council composed of twelve elected members: four Maronites, three Druzes, two Greek Orthodox, one Greek Catholic, one Sunni, and one Shi'i. The territory was divided into seven administrative districts with an appointed kaymakam of the prevalent religious group. Taxes that were collected were to be used as the Lebanese budget and only the surplus was sent to Istanbul. Feudalism was abolished and all Lebanese people were declared equal under the law.

The first mutasarrif was Dawud Efendi, an Armenian Catholic of Istanbul (Salibi,111).

He was capable, enlightened, and established an efficient and honest administration. He was able to reconcile the Lebanese communities and gradually absorbed the feudal sheikhs into the new administration to prevent any rebellion against it. He also improved the road system, agriculture, and trade which greatly aided the rebuilding of the social and economic prosperity of Lebanon. Dawud Efendi was most successful in implementing these reforms and improvements in the South where the civil war had inflicted the most harm and the people were anxious to cooperate (Salibi,112).

He was strongly opposed in the North by Yusuf Karam and, despite attempts to include him in the new administration; he eventually incited rebellion and was exiled to Egypt and subsequently to Europe. His failure allowed for the Mutasarrifate to achieve firmly established power, though an undercurrent of dissatisfaction in the North pursued throughout the Mutasarrifate period. The Maronites continued to complain throughout this period of "static politics. (Salibi,114) They were encouraged by the French for greater political independence and it is among the Maronites (led by Yusuf Karam) that a Lebanese Christian nationalism developed. The problems of reconstruction were that money was short, morale was low, streets needed clearing and rebuilding infrastructure took time. Powerful positive factors were needed for the assurance of peace (Shehadi,58). Restoration of central authority was the first order of business in the rehabilitation of the economy. The development of institutions to limit sectarian divisions was also important.

The causes for this conflict were numerous. Some of the most widely espoused of these causes are: the Druze resentment of Bashir III's efforts to

undermine the feudal sheikhs, the Maronite crushing of the Druze rebellion in Hawran, the increase in the prestige of the Christians, Great Britain seeking a sphere of influence in the region and played both sides off each other to attain this goal, the new Ottoman policy of direct rule and centralization initiated by Mahmud II similarly led the administration to play both sides (Hitti,433).

The European intervention was especially important at this time in Ottoman history. There had been a developing rivalry between the British and French for access and control of important trading ports, such as Beirut. The European powers, thus, got involved when the conflict appeared to endanger the balance of power in the Middle East. They wanted to uphold a "lifeline" of the Ottoman Empire and create a bulwark against Russian penetration in the Middle East (Abraham,18).

Furthermore, they worried that continued local insurrections would undermine the power of the Ottomans. Despite espousals that the civil war in 1860 was fought based on purely sectarian lines, there is strong evidence that the situation was more complex. Antoine Abraham argues that "the Maronite Druze conflict was not based on religious grounds. "(Abraham, 18) Instead, outside forces utilized religious misunderstandings to create and heighten religious tensions, while the Maronite clergy used religion to support their own political and communal ambitions.

The Maronite cry for independence was very different from Christian Reformation movements in Europe. The Lebanese independence movement was not generated due to political or literary enlightenment propagated by missionaries, as occurred in Europe. Rather, this movement arose from indigenous Maronite sentiment (Abraham,17). After 1860, the Maronites continued to work for independence with changes in strategy, tactics,

and leadership. After this time, Lebanon receded into the folds of Middle East diplomacy until the 20th century.

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