|Subject:||NERPS: Middle East|
|Date:||Sat, 24 Jan 1998 18:34:54 EST|
There are six main powers in the Middle East in 2057; the Saud Caliphate,
Israel, Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iran (also known in some circles as the
Persian Empire). There is also the small nation of Palestine but they are a
small, minor power. The most prominent of these powers is Syria and the Saud
During the 1990s, it appeared that Syria was becoming a more mature, mellow
nation, slowing backing down from its' rabidly anti-Israeli stance. Then, in
2010, President Baybar took power, and imposed his extreme militant Islamic
beliefs upon his nation, forging it into the outlaw nation it is today.
Syria consists of the nations of twentieth century Syria and bits and pieces
of other neighboring nations, territory gained in conquest from 2012 to 2018.
Their avowed policy of Jihad (loosely meaning "religious war") and relentless
support of terrorist groups worldwide makes Syria extremely unpopular. They
have many internal problems, like Kurdish and Turkish Separatists (both
supported by the Caliphate and Israel). There is a very strong social
dynamism here and contrary to popular Western belief, the average citizen
isn't a fanatic. But the fanatics have been in control since 2010, with an
elderly and infirm President Baybar still in power. Perhaps most disturbing
to leaders of foreign powers, Syria is the home of the revived Hashishin, the
Assassins League. Between terror for hire and the rental fees for Desert
Wars, Syria has plenty of financing for the Jihad, much to the consternation
of most of the rest of the world.
(>) Stay tuned for intel on the Hashishin. I'm in the middle of digging up
what I can on them. If I can stay alive long enough, I'll be posting it here
hopefully in the near future.
(>) I seem to remember my Grandpa (may he rest in peace) telling me "All those
damn towel heads are fanatics ready to die for their Allah! F**kin'
infidels!" or something like that. I guess it's true, eh?
(>) Space Cadet
(>) Time for a brief lesson in religion. First of all, Allah is only the
Arabic word for god. The Muslims worships the same god as the Jews and the
Christians. Just a different name. Because of this, many religious teachers
for many years have been teaching that the Jews and Christians are "people of
the Book," because they are. There is nothing in any of the teachings of
Muhammed, including the Quran, that says there should be some kind of Jihad.
Islam is actually a very peaceful religion. It's just there are fanatical
humans with strange ideas involved...and most people think it's the Shi'as (or
as they are commonly called in the West, Shi'ites) because of what Iran did
back in the 1980's. But the fact is that the majority of radicals
historically have been Sunni, with the Shi'as being normally very laid back
and open to progress. Part of that is philosophy, part of that is that the
Shi'as have never been more than about 8 or 9% of the Muslim population,
despite the fact they control Syria.
Did you know that the whole Palestinian/Israeli conflict had almost nothing to
do with religion? Did you know that the large majority of Palestinians were
at least originally Christians? And that much of their support came from
various Christian factions, even today? That some of the most feared
terrorist groups, even back in the 20th Century, were run by either Christians
or Atheists? Even today, you'll get a bigger reaction out of Middle Eastern
governments if you mention water rights than if you run off at the mouth about
religion. Frag, the Israelis and the Palestinians still fight about water;
it's still their major stumbling block, 70 plus years later. In other words,
don't assume anything about the Middle East. It's very confusing, even to
experts (and I sure can't claim that title).
(>) St. Stan
The People's Republic of Turkei is in trouble. Once a member of NATO and a
candidate for admission into the European Union, it has fallen into uncertain
times. To the south is the island of Cyprus, where Turkey and the Greeks have
been fighting for control for something like a century or more. To the
southeast is the terrorist nation of Syria, a country that hates Turkey for
its suppression of Islam. To the east are the Kurdish separatists, fighting
Syria, Turkey, Iran and just about everyone else. And to the north and west
are unstable nations. Combine these external pressures with internal problems
of high unemployment, low literacy and general dissatisfaction with the
government that has ruled Turkey since the early twentieth century and there
is a giant powder keg. The only thing holding the nation founded by Kamal
Attaturk together is the army, which has been the glue keeping Turkey together
for over a century.
(>) The biggest sign of trouble for Turkey? There are rumblings within the
army. You have to understand that the army views itself as the protectors of
Turkey and the vision of Attaturk. Though they have deposed a number of
rulers, they have never installed one of their own generals as president.
With the chaos and uncertainty swirling around right now, that may change.
Egypt is one of the most ancient nations in the world and has an ancient magic
tradition. Rumors abound on the streets of UCAS about what has been going on
here since the Awakening, even to the point it has been claimed that Ramses II
has returned, or that Cleopatra is in power. But the fact is that the
pharaohs have not returned, despite the actions of a small, yet vocal, group
dedicated to that cause.
Egypt is in fact very similar to the nation it was before the Awakening, with
an elected (at least that is what is claimed) president and legislature. The
power of Islamic fundamentalists, on the rise before the Awakening, has seen a
drastic drop. So much so that not a single person in the elected legislature
describes themselves as proponents of an Islamic state. This despite, or
perhaps because of, the rise of the Syrian and Algerian fundamentalists.
Part of this can also be attributed to the dramatic rise in magic. As a
result, the Nile has become vastly more bountiful and strange paranimals, not
yet seen anywhere else, roam the shifting deserts. In addition, the Great
Pyramids, the Sphinx and many other ancient Egyptian monuments have slowly,
inexplicably, been restored by some unknown magical process.
Geographically, Egypt includes much of what was Sudan, extending along the
Nile all the way to the Sabat River. Borders in the desert aren't very fixed,
but the Algerian Theocracy isn't trying to expand at the Egyptian's expense
anymore. In fact, no one is, a fact that can be attributed to the highly
trained and well equipped Egyptian military. And perhaps the strange
paranimals that roam the deserts.
(>) The rise of magic and all the weird occurrences has generated an interest
in "Egyptian" religion, meaning the worship of Bast and Thoth Amon and Ra and
so on. Mummification, among other things, is extremely popular among the
wealthy adherents. They are still a small segment of the population, but as
things get weirder and more people get used to magic, the more people join the
(>) Orange Cat
(>) Here is some detailed info on Israel written by a couple of locals. We
had our usual summary in here previously, as some of you may recall, but it's
Shadowland policy to let the locals talk about their own backyards when
possible. So take a look.
(>) St. Stan
(insert Tomer Brisker's (sp?) article here)
The nation of Palestine is truly the odd man out in the Middle East. During
the late Twentieth Century, the fight for a Palestinian homeland had a fair
amount of global support, which eventually culminated in the Oslo Accords,
with Israel bowing to pressure and granting the Palestinian Liberation
Organization (PLO), then headed by Yassir Arafat, much of the West Bank. This
should have been the end of the conflict. But several factors still remained.
First, Israel didn't give the PLO very good land at all. Almost no water and
the land itself was largely barren. Second, the funds needed to start up a
government nearly from scratch were simply not forthcoming from anyone.
Third, very little of the land was contiguous; scattered enclaves all over the
area make it difficult to form a strong government. And fourth, many
Palestinians simply wanted more. The Intifada (Arabic for "getting rid of,"
as in Israel) slowly began to escalate it's activities, from simple rock
throwing to genuine terrorist actions and in fact became by the turn of the
century the primary terrorist organization in the Middle East. The Intifada
didn't learn from it's more reasonable forefathers however. Some of their
actions seemed simply to be cold-blooded terror, with little reason, even to
other Palestinians. By the time of the Awakening, the Intifada had lost
almost all popular support, and in doing so, Palestine did also. VITAS,
Goblinization, and the Awakening hit Palestine hard, so much so that it almost
ceased to exist in the late 2030's. Palestine has been making a comeback, but
it is painfully slow, especially since it receives almost no foreign aid. And
so, Palestine views itself (perhaps correctly) as an island in an ocean of
It should be added that Palestine now occupies what was once Northern Lebanon
as part of the Oslo 4 accords, where it has been for 10 years. Given the
superior resources of the region (adequate water and fertile soil), one would
expect a comeback of Palestine, but all economic growth has been painfully
(>) Wait a minute. Why doesn't Syria, or maybe the Saud Caliphate help them
out? They all hate Israel don't they?
(>) Geez, maybe I should have written this whole section...it's actually
pretty simple. The Saud Caliphate doesn't really hate Israel that much
anymore. They actually get along pretty well, political posturing aside.
Syria thinks that Palestine gave up (which is probably true) and just isn't
fanatical enough (but then again, it never really was about religion for the
Palestinians, many of whom were actually Christian). They do give Palestine a
small amount of aid, but it's nowhere near what Palestine needs to become a
viable nation. And on top of it all is good-old fashioned tribalism, a factor
in Middle Eastern politics from day one.
(>) St. Stan
Iran (The Persian Empire)
The Persian Empire (still officially named Iran) consists of 20th century
Iran, Armenia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Balichistan,
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzistan. Their primary external foe is Kazakhstan, a nation
that loves to antagonize the "far-too stuffy" Iran. The one major sore point
is Afghanistan, whose rebels refuse to acknowledge the Persian Empire as their
ruler. This wasn't a major problem until 2054, when the unrest began to
spread outward from Afghanistan, infecting other areas of Persia with it's
revolutionary demands and hard-core Sunni Muslim fervor. What was once a low-
level, tribal conflict has exploded, sometimes literally, into a civil war
that threatens to shred the entire empire from within.
Part of the problem, at least from the rebels point of view, is that the Shah
of Iran is widely believed to be a Sirrush, or dragon. This has never been
confirmed, but neither has is been strongly denied by the Shah. If true, it
is thought that Aden is that dragon. Aden is the same dragon that destroyed
Teheran in 2020, when the then Ayatollah of Iran declared a jihad against the
Awakened. That action led to the destruction of old Iran and was the
effective birth of what is increasingly called the Persian Empire. Most of
the officers (the Persian military is generally considered to be excellent,
although recent actions with the Afghan rebels have badly tarnished their
reputation.) are humans or orks. Persian magic is quite effective but their
tech is sub-standard. Iran is quite well administrated, corruption is
manageable, the standard of living, while not up to the standards of Europe or
North America, is better than most places in the region and there are no major
external enemies that are considered a major threat. Which if it weren't for
the civil war/jihad, might make the Persian Empire the major power of the
(>) No external enemies? Wait a minute. Syria and the Afghan rebels are best
friends! Syria trains and supplies the rebels. Frag, Syria probably is more
involved with the Afghan terrorist/rebels (remember, it's how you look at it)
than any other terrorist group. The two sides hate each other. The rabid
Islamic fervor of Syria versus the nearly atheistic Iranian government.
(>) Okay, is it Iran or the Persian Empire? Lay it out straight.
(>) Two-Minute Man
(>) Officially is it still Iran. That is how they are referred to in the
United Nations and what appears on their official external documents.
However, the Shah (Whatever he is. Everything indicates he is human, but the
rumors refuse to die.) has not said "Iran" since 2049. It has always been
"the Persian Empire." Slowly but surely the average citizen has stopped
thinking of themselves as Iranian (or whatever else), but as Persian. Given
the fact that they annexed numerous territories that never were a part of
Iran, it gives a certain amount of unity of thought in the nation. Unless you
are Afghani that is.
(>) St. Stan
The Saud Caliphate
The Saud Caliphate is led by the scion of the House of S'aud, King Jamal al-
Fakhir Muhammed. The royal house of Jordan still exists, as a sort of cadet
branch which, while royalty, is not in line for the throne. The Saud
Caliphate consists of the 20th century nations of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,
Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. All these
nations were absorbed by what was once called Saudi Arabia. During the chaos
of the teens and twenties, most of those small nations looked to Saudi Arabia
for help, for protection from the chaos and from the desires of Syria and
Iran. What started out as protection treaties in the teens became treaties
for annexation by the 30s.
The Caliphate holds enormous power in the Muslim world because it possesses
both Mecca and Medina, the two most holy places to their faith. Mecca, now
encompassing the port of Jiddah as well, is the capitol of the Caliphate. The
tremendous amounts of money made off of the Arabian and Gulf oil reserves from
the last century to the present have translated well into power as have the
occult researches of Islamic scholars. Caliphate spellcasters are almost all
hermetic, Islam forbidding totemic magic as idolatry.
Subtlety is a byword for the Caliphate, from their diplomacy to their armed
forces. The Caliphate inherited the nucleus of a fine army from the former
kingdom of Jordan and from Saudi Arabia and have a competent military, with
specialist "advisors" from Israel and the UCAS. Their tech is the best that
money can buy, from Japan, UCAS and Europe. While Islam does not approve of
cyberware, it is still deemed necessary in the military of the Caliphate. In
a concession to their faith, virtually all cyber found in the Caliphate is
extremely subtle, with a premium being placed on realistic skin coverings.
(>) A lot of alpha and beta grade 'ware is used. Even some delta ware for
those few members of the royal family that feel the need to cyber up. Frag,
they're about the only non-corp people that could afford it.
The legal system is surprisingly modern, a curious blend of Western
jurisprudence, "temporal" laws handed down by Muhammed and the teachings of
the Quran (Koran). Most judges are either Sheiks (a title of minor
"nobility") or holy men, educated in the Quran and other teachings of
Muhammed. All citizens are expected to be versed in the Quran; however, many
practices such as the Chador (the wearing of veils and covering women from
head to toe) haven't been rigidly followed for several decades. Of all the
Islamic nations, the Caliphate is probably the most "Western," with western
business practices and western style schools and even several shopping malls.
(>) Just because some of the more restrictive practices have been
relaxed, doesn't mean that you won't see plenty of Chador-clad wives and the
like throughout the country. Women, especially, aren't really granted equal
status; much the same as women were in the United States in the 50's (1950's
that is). This is particularly true of the older, more traditional
individuals most likely to be in positions of judicial and bureaucratic power.
Because of the traditional Arabic emphasis on education, if you find that
you're likely to need to talk to such a person, plan on having a
conservatively-dressed, educated, articulate male do it for you - a human if
possible. Unsurprisingly, there is a ready market of such individuals
available for hire as "translators" and "guides" for the visitor in
Warning: In many cases, but especially legal matters, the speaker should be
able to demonstrate that his knowledge of the Quran is innate - not chip-
based. Many judges and bureaucrats feel that resorting to artificial memory
aids such as chips for such an important thing is a sign that they are dealing
with an unbeliever, or infidel, and prejudice their case and actions against
(>) Only partially true Asmodeus. Because things like the Chador have been
officially relaxed, you will find plenty of people, men included, that are
quite happy with the progress. Because it's religious laws we are dealing
with, there are plenty of people on both sides of the argument. Try to find
out what the beliefs are of those people you're dealing with. It could be
(>) The whole "veil and robe" thing is actually a pretty good deal if you're
looking to be invisible over here - and happen to be a woman - since those
outfits can conceal a manpack SAM if you don't try and run with it. Of course
you need a traditional-minded man to act as a front-man for the cover to work,
but anybody worth a damn can get around that obstacle without too much
trouble. Just be sure to act submissive, keep your eyes down when around men,
and pay attention to the other requirements of the faith.
Both Syria and Algeria support several groups of "freedom fighters" in
Caliphate territory, including radical fundamentalists and such ethnic
minorities as Pakistanis and Bangladeshis (imported in the previous century to
work in the oil fields and as household menials).
(>) Those freedom fighters aren't much more than a thorn in the side of the
Caliphate. They don't have enough power, gear, or will to do anything really
nasty. At least not yet.