Battle of Ain Dara

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Battle of Ain Dara
Date 20 March 1711
Location Ain Dara, Sidon Eyalet, Ottoman Empire
Result Qaysi victory
Belligerents

Qaysi faction

  • Shihab dynasty
  • Jumblatt clan of Chouf
  • Talhuq clan of Gharb
  • Nakad clan of Manasif
  • Imad clan of Arqub
  • Abd al-Malik clan of Jurd
  • Abu'l Lama clan of Matn
  • Khazen clan of Keserwan

Yamani faction

  • Alam ad-Din clan of Chouf
  • Arslan clan of Gharb
  • Al-Sawaf clan

Supported by:

Commanders and leaders
Emir Haydar Shihab
Sheikh Ali Jumblatt
Muhammad Talhuq
Ali Abi Nakad
Sayyid Ahmad Imad
Janbulat Abd al-Malik
Khazen al-Khazen
Qabalan al-Qadi al-Tanukhi
Mahmoud Abi Harmush (POW)
Alam ad-Din sheikhs 
Bashir Pasha al-Matarji
Nasuh Pasha Aydinli
Casualties and losses
N/A Heavy

The Battle of Ain Dara took place in the town of Ain Dara in 1711 between the Qaysi and Yamani tribo-political factions. The Qays were led by Emir Haydar of the Shihab dynasty and consisted of the Druze clans of Jumblatt, Talhuq, Imad and Abd al-Malik and the Maronite clan of Khazen. The Yamani faction was led by Mahmoud Abi Harmush and consisted of the Druze Alam ad-Din, Arslan and al-Sawaf clans. The Yamani faction also had backing from the Ottoman provincial authorities of Sidon and Damascus. The battle ended in a rout for the Yamani faction and resulted in the consolidation of Qaysi political and fiscal domination over Mount Lebanon. The battle's outcome also precipitated a mass migration of pro-Yamani Druze nobility and peasants from Mount Lebanon to the eastern Hauran, in a mountainous area today known as Jabal al-Druze.

Background[edit]

In 17th-century Mount Lebanon, the Druze were the major demographic group of the region. The Druze had been divided into political factions based on the pre-Islamic Arab tribal divisions of the Qays and Yaman. The Ma'ans, whose emirs (princes) consistently held the tax farms of Mount Lebanon's districts (Chouf, Matn, Keserwan, Gharb and Jurd),[1] represented the Qaysi faction,[2] along with their allies, the Druze clans of Jumblatt, Imad, Talhuq and Abu'l Lama, the Maronite Khazen clan of Keserwan,[3] and the Sunni Muslim Shihab clan of Wadi al-Taym.[4] Leading the Yamani faction was the Alam ad-Din clan, whose members occasionally gained the tax farms of Mount Lebanon during times of conflict between the Ma'ans and the Ottoman authorities.[5] Other families belonging to the Yamani faction were the Druze clans of Arslan and al-Sawaf.[2]

In 1697, Emir Ahmad Ma'an died without a male heir, and as a result, the Druze sheiks of the Qaysi faction decided to appoint a strong and unifying family to head the faction to prevent a potential Yamani rise to power. The Qaysi sheikhs ultimately chose Bashir Shihab I to succeed Emir Ahmad due to the military strength of the Shihab clan, their distance from the intra-Qaysi disputes, and their marital kinship with Emir Ahmad (Bashir was Ahmad's maternal nephew).[4] The Ottoman authorities confirmed the Ma'an-Shihab transition, but decided to invest Emir Ahmad's tax farms to Emir Haydar Shihab (Emir Ahmad's grandson). Due to Emir Haydar's youth, Emir Bashir served as regent.[6] Emir Bashir strengthened Qaysi dominance in Mount Lebanon and installed the Qaysi sheikh Umar al-Zaydani of the Sunni Muslim Zaydani clan as the tax farmer of Safad and its region, while securing the allegiance of the Shia Muslim Sa'ab and Munkir clans of Jabal Amil (the Wa'il clan of Jabal Amil was pro-Yamani).[5]

After Emir Bashir died from poisoning, allegedly on Emir Haydar's orders, the Ottomans rescinded the power of the Shihabs in Jabal Amil (the Munkirs and Sa'abs then defected to the pro-Yamani coalition) and the Galilee. Moreover, in 1709, the Ottoman governor of Sidon Eyalet, which included Mount Lebanon, Beirut Galilee and Jabal Amil, deposed Emir Haydar from the tax farm of Chouf and transferred to it Emir Haydar's erstwhile associate-turned-enemy, Mahmoud Abi Harmush. Abi Harmush joined forces with the Alam ad-Din-led Yamani faction and the latter soon after gained dominance in Mount Lebanon. However, the popular support for the Yamani faction in Chouf was not deep. Abi Harmush, with the backing of Sidon's governor, pursued Emir Haydar, who had since fled to Ghazir where he found protection from the Maronite Hubaysh clan. Ghazir was plundered and Emir Haydar fled northeast to Hermel in the northern Beqaa Valley.[3]

Prelude[edit]

The Qaysi clans of Mount Lebanon sent appeals to Emir Haydar to return and restore their control over the region. Buoyed by the Qaysi rallying of support, Emir Haydar relocated to Matn in 1711 where he sought safe haven with the Abu'l Lama, who controlled the subdistrict. Emir Haydar and the Abu'l Lama mobilized their forces at the village of Ras al-Matn, where they were soon joined by the heads of the various Qaysi clans of Mount Lebanon and their forces. They included Sheikh Ali Jumblatt, Qabalan al-Qadi al-Tanukhi, Sayyid Ahmad Imad, Ali Abi Nakad, Janbulat Abd al-Malik and Muhammad Talhuq. Hearing of the Qaysi mobilization, Abi Harmush called on the Yamani emirs of the Alam ad-Din and Arslan clans to mobilize at the Jurd village of Ain Dara, and they were also joined by the Shia Muslim Harfush clan of the Beqaa Valley.[3]

Battle[edit]

The Ottoman governor of Sidon sent troops through Beirut to aid the Yamani coalition, while the governor of Damascus did the same, but his troops were led through the Beqaa Valley. Through these maneuvers, the Ottoman provincial authorities and the Yamani faction intended to launch a pincer assault against the Qaysi camp at Ras al-Matn. However, on 20 March, Emir Haydar launched an all-out assault against the Yamani camp at Ain Dara to preempt the arrival of Ottoman reinforcements and being subsequently attacked from different directions.[3][6] In the ensuing battle, the Qaysi coalition dealt a blow to the Yamani camp,[3] which suffered heavy casualties.[6] Seven sheikhs of the Alam ad-Din clan were killed, while Abi Harmush was captured. Emir Haydar subsequently sent kind-worded notices to the governors of Sidon and Damascus, who ultimately accepted the Qaysi victory and withdrew their forces.[3]

Role of Harfush clan[edit]

The Harfushes appear to have been back in control of Baalbek by 1702, when local accounts indicate that a Christian shaykh of ‘Aqura in Mt Lebanon entered emir Husayn’s (Harfush) service as yazıcı, or secretary, on account of his Turkish skills. In 1711, French consular reports suggest, Husayn Harfush gave shelter to Haydar Shihabi and then supplied 2,500 troops to help him wipe out his Druze rivals at ‘Ayn Dara and establish himself as sole emir of the Shuf. This is curiously not addressed by H. A. al-Shihabi or any other chronicles of the period.[7]

And professor Winter said in his Doctoral thesis:[8]

"The Harfushes do not seem to have joined the Hamadas who had already been at war with the vali of Tripoli for nearly a year. Instead, they gave the emir Haydar al-Shihabi refuge when it became clear that the state intended to replace him with a rival Druze household, and provided 2500 troops to enable him to crush his enemies and establish the Shihabi as the sole tribal ruler ship of Sidon."

Aftermath[edit]

The Qaysi victory at Ain Dara led to major political, social and demographic changes in Mount Lebanon.[3][6] The Yamani faction was removed as a political force in Mount Lebanon,[9] and Emir Haydar proceeded to reorganize the local leadership of the region, distributing muqata'at (tax collection districts, sing. muqata'a) to his Qaysi partisans in the various subdistricts of Mount Lebanon.[3] He confirmed his allies as the leaders of their home districts and promoted them to higher social ranks.[10] Thus, the Abu'l Lama sheikhs of Matn became emirs, joining the ranks of the Shihabs and Arslans.[3] Jumblatt authority, normally centered in the Chouf, was extended to Jezzin and southern Mount Lebanon.[10] The Nakad, Imad, and Abd al-Malik leaders were promoted to the rank of sheikhs,[3] and were confirmed as the muqata'jis (tax farm holders) of the Manasif, Arqub and Jurd muqata'at, respectively.[10] The Talhuq clan leaders were also promoted to the rank of sheikhs,[3] and were given upper part of the Arslan's muqata'a of Gharb, while the Arslans were kept in the lower Gharb.[10] The Arslans had their muqata'a reduced because of their allegiance with the Yamani faction. However, they were permitted by Emir Haydar to remain in Mount Lebanon.[3][10] Emir Haydar did not sublease his holdings at Deir al-Qamar, Ain Dara, Batloun, Niha and Ammatour, preferring to keep these key villages under his direct fiscal authority.[10] In the northern Keserwan district of Mount Lebanon, Emir Haydar confirmed the Maronite Khazen and Hubaysh sheikhs as muqata'jis.[9]

The defeat of the Alam ad-Din clan at Ain Dara consolidated the power of the Shihab dynasty in Mount Lebanon, to the point that it became an "established custom in the land of the Druze that no one would raise a weapon against a Shihabi emir unless he had another [Shihabi] emir with him", according to Mishaqa. Nonetheless, Shihabi power was dependent on their alliances and patronage networks with various Druze clans.[11] The Qaysi victory also strengthened the hand of the Shihabs' allies, the Shia Hamade of the Tripoli hinterland. The Hamade sheikhs were the landlords of the Maronite-dominant areas of Jubail, Batroun and Bsharri. Like the Shihab emirs, the Hamade muqaddams (a social rank higher than sheikh, but lower than emir) were virtually left to their own devices by the governors of Tripoli as long as the latter were paid the annual taxes of the region.[9] While the Yamani faction was eliminated, a new rivalry gradually developed among the Druze clans, which developed as the two new factions took sides with different Shihab emirs that contested control of the emirate in the years following Emir Haydar's death in 1732, and more so after the resignation of his eldest son and successor, Emir Mulhim Shihab. The developing factionalism consisted of the Jumblatti and Yazbaki parties, with the former being led by its namesake, Sheikh Ali Jumblatt, and the latter was led Sheikh Abd al-Salam Yazbak Imad.[10]

Other than the Arslans, Emir Haydar forced the Yamani Druze to leave Mount Lebanon, leading to a mass exodus to the Hauran plain south of Damascus,[6] where a previous wave of Druze from Mount Lebanon had began settling in 1685.[3] In the Druze emigrants' place came Maronite peasants from the region of Tripoli, to the north of Mount Lebanon.[6] While Christian growth in the region was a long-term trend,[3] the Yamani Druze exodus led to a demographic shift in Mount Lebanon, with Maronites and other Christians, namely from the Greek Orthodox and Melkite sects, making up a large share of the population at the expense of the Druze.[3][6] The Druze muqata'jis remained the major political power, however, and Maronites, Melkites and Greek Orthodox Christians increasingly became the tenants of the mostly Druze landlords of Mount Lebanon.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Harris 2012, pp. 107–108.
  2. ^ a b Harris 2012, p. 110.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Harris, p. 115.
  4. ^ a b Harris 2012, p. 113.
  5. ^ a b Harris 2012, p. 114.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Abu Izzeddin 1998, p. 202.
  7. ^ • Stefan Winter (11 March 2010). The Shiites of Lebanon under Ottoman Rule, 1516–1788. Cambridge University Press, Page 148.
  8. ^ THE SHIITE EMIRATES OF OTTOMAN SYRIA (MID-17m -MID-18m CENTURY), Stefan Helmut Winter, THE UNlVERSIlY OF CHICAGO, CHICAGO, ILUNOIS AUGUST 2002,pages 225:226.
  9. ^ a b c Harris, p. 116.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Abu Izzeddin 1998, p. 203.
  11. ^ Makdisi, pp. 34–35.

Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Almaqhafi, Awwad: Qabayl Wa Biton Al-Arab
  • Almsaodi, Abdulaziz: Tarikh Qabayl Al-Arab