Arabs and Saracens may refer to any of the following:
- Bedouin tribes, a faction in both Rise of the Moderns and Time of War: Rise of the Moderns 2; or
While not fully ethnically Arab, the following factions are considered as Arabic factions for the purposes of this game:
Although in the midst of geopolitical decline since the mid-16th century, the Arabs would still continue to influence world events from their homes in the sands of Africa and Arabia. This role gained even more ominous significance with the discovery of oil and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after the Great War.
The Arabs in the Early Modern EraEdit
The Ottoman Empire was the largest Muslim nation on earth, spanning three continents. Yet, despite having usurped the title "Amirul-e-Mukminin", or the "Commander/Emir of the Faithful", the Ottoman Sultan however always maintained extremely vague and tenuous control over the Middle East with Africa and southern Arabia which remained divided into different kingdoms, clans and tribes by the opening decades of the Early Modern era, with some rulers professing allegiance to the Turks and others distancing themselves wholly from them. Chief among the great Arab kingdoms, however, was Morocco.
Although the Maghrebis (as the people of Morocco call themselves) were mostly of Berber stock, they had been Arabicised to the extent that most of them were now part of mainstream Arab culture in the middle of the 2nd millenium CE.
The first of the modern dynasties of Morocco was the Saadi dynasty. Originally hailing from the interior, by 1600 the Saadiyin were dominant throughout present-day Morocco, and despite the short-livedness of their reign, the Saadiyin were sufficiently strong to keep the Portuguese and the Ottomans out, the two new powers that were arising in Africa. The Saadi however never truly worked towards creating a unified state in North Africa. That task fell to the Alawi rulers who, by relying on foreign mercenaries to centralise power under the sultan, eventually created a nation that would even survive to this day despite occupation and partition by France and Spain.
The first man to establish that dynasty as a practical power was Ismail Ibn Sharif, also known as Moulay Ismail. A gifted ruler, Moulay Ismail managed to resist attempts to colonise Morocco by the French, the English and the Spanish, and also began building schemes, which culminated in the architecturally refined city of Meknes, his capital. Yet he was also said to be bloodthirsty and developed a reputation for ruthlessness (which he doubtlessly encouraged to intimidate his opponents).
The Slave TradeEdit
The success of the Alawites was often said not to rest merely on military might or otherwise, but because of their use of slaves. The Sultans of Morocco had a so-called "Black Guard", named so because its members were all ethnic blacks and functioned as a bodyguard to their master. Although they were often subject to the caprices of their owners — one sultan even tested a new sword by striking down a member of the Black Guard with it — the Black Guard was mostly highly dedicated and professional.
Outside of this, however, slavery itself was a more sordid affair. Until the 19th century, sultans and beys of the North African coast trafficked heavily in slavery, and the rulers of Algiers even had their own fleets for the purpose of slave raiding, under the guise of conducting a jihad against heathens. Additionally, the Arab aristocracies of these nations would also traffick in black slaves, captured either via slave raiding or by buying hostages taken by the feuding states in Sub-Saharan Africa.
No ship or coastal town without cannon or citadel in the North Atlantic or the Mediterranean was safe from the crews of these fleets, who were later known as the Barbary pirates or corsairs, and soon the Barbary pirates had become a major nuisance to the European powers who were increasingly relying on sea trade for the proper functioning of their economies. A similar state was also developing in the Persian Gulf, where the poorer communities along the coast were involved in piracy where fishing and trading failed. The problem became so severe that the navies of France, Spain, England and eventually America were involved in bombarding various cities upon the North African coast to stop the pirate menace. In 1830, one step was taken further by France, whose marines stormed Algiers, establishing French influence in North Africa. This would precipitate the scramble for Africa between the French, Spanish, British, Germans and Belgians in later decades to come.
The Rest of the ArabsEdit
Of course, the Moroccans were not the only Arabs in the world. Egypt was dominated by Ottoman-aligned Mamluks (the last Abbasid ruler of Egypt having been taken into house arrest in 1517), the Hejaz was under the sway of several tribes amongst which the As-Sa'ud dynasts were dominant, the Red Sea coast and the holy city of Makkah were under the influence of the Hashemites, a clan who claimed descent from the Prophet, while the southern shore of the Persian Gulf was under various clans, such as As-Said and As-Sabah.
Of these, however, the Said and the Sa'ud clans could be said to be the greatest in political power and influence. By the end of the 18th century, As-Sa'ud had formed an emirate centred around Ad-Dariyah (now Riyadh), while As-Said took advantage of the turmoil in Persia to set itself up as the rulers of Muscat. A clan of piratical chieftains, As-Sabah, were expelled by the Ottomans but soon founded a fort in Kuwait, where their line rules to this day.
There too were other smaller emirates, located throughout the Middle East and the East African coast, such as the Sultanate of Zanzibar, which was a cadet branch of the Said dynasty who were by now ensconced in Muscat (today known as Oman), as well as other Arab-speaking pastoral tribes who wandered throughout the arid northern half of the African continent.
Riddles in the SandsEdit
As early as the Napoleonic era (the first two decades of the 19th century), the strategic significance of the Middle East in the scheme of things was increasingly being appreciated by the naval powers of the world, most notably Great Britain and Turkey.
There were two primary reasons for this. The first was that the Middle East lay at a very strategic juncture between Europe and Asia; with the completion of the Suez canal in Egypt, traffic between east and west was ever so more intensified than it was in the days of overland caravans along the Sinai Desert. Early on, Napoleon had tried to take Egypt and Syria to stymie British Asian trade, but failed. The second was that some Arab tribes like the early generations of As-Sabah potentates in Kuwait were involved in piracy which was unacceptable to both Briton and Turk alike, so as a result it was crucial that some way of keeping the Arabs from commerce raiding was most desired.
Generally, the Arab peninsula was split in half with the more fertile northern lands acknowledging Ottoman suzerainty, and the British seeking to influence the locals as long as it did not antagonise the Ottomans. British interests of the 19th century generally involved maintaining the Ottoman polity as a potential buffer against the Russians whose increased interests in Central Asia threatened both Ottoman and British holdings in Asia. Following a Sa'udi raid on Karbala in Iraq, Ottoman and Egyptian forces assailed the Emirate of Dariyah n 1818 and executed its ruler, Abdullah, while the British sent ambassadors to the many smaller tribes around the Persian Gulf and annexed the port of Aden in 1839.