Wars have been a form of knighthood throughout the history we’re familiar with. They were about bravery, sacrifice and respect. All these characteristics require direct contact between humans. Weapons such as swords, spears and shields imposed decreasing distance between fighters.
These wars did not resort to mercenaries or proxy wars. They were an industry that native citizens of a country mastered. They were an imposed duty or requirement from a certain feared category that was widely respected and appreciated as it’s always ready to defend its homeland to confront the threats of foreign invasions or to go beyond its borders to secure its territories and gain strategic depth within its deployed armies.
Fighters underwent brutal training during wars in the past. They were taught how to move quickly and mastered attack and withdrawal tactics. They were also taught disciplined coordination with their battalion. Fighters also mastered the use of non-firearm type weapons. A state or empire whose army possessed more of these traits, characteristics and weapons has been more capable to confront others and maneuver.
Balance of terror
The state’s or empire’s readiness has been enough to prevent wars from erupting as enemies knew how to estimate the power they have to fight. This is how the “balance of terror” principle emerged. This principle is taken into consideration when preventing wars in our modern history. When this principle is disrupted, Sparta “the city of sports” would be capable of invading and subjugating Athena “the intellectual city” which is more beneficial to culture and civilization.
Despite that, ancient history witnessed some form of mercenarism as the strongest “hired” the weakest. Arab Lakhmids who were stationed around the Iraqi desert accepted the Persian state’s protection in exchange of protecting its desert borders. Arab Ghassanids accepted the Roman Empire’s protection in exchange of warning it of any possible threats in the Arabian Desert.
There is an international and regional war in the Syrian Desert. America, Europe, Turkey and Gulf countries are participating in this war via armies made of mercenaries that consist of Kurds, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Chechens, Afghans and citizens from Gulf countries.Ghassan Imam
In all cases, the Lakhmids and Ghassanids did not view themselves as mercenaries. The Ghassanids who were supported by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire fought with their Arab Muslim brothers who liberated Sham from the Romans. The Lakhmids eventually integrated in Arabism and Islam and left Khosrow fighting battles in the Gulf Sea which did not drown Arabs who conquered Iraq and Iran.
Destroying a noble Arab legacy
The Arab state which refused to act as a mercenary was the Nabataean kingdom of Palmyra. It reached the peak of its prosperity and strength during the era of its queen, or rather regent, Zenobia. Roman Emperor Aurelian defeated her in a fierce war. He destroyed the capital and its impressive ruins serve as evidence to its culture.
The tyrannical ISIS organization has most recently destroyed parts of this noble Arab legacy.
When “politics” in the modern era turned into “a war fought via other tools,” superpowers and regional countries began to recruit and hire mercenaries to fight on their behalf. This phenomenon became a pillar of peace and war in the current century.
Africa in particular has been an arena for deadly wars where millions in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eretria died. These wars were fought from afar by major European countries. Cuban leader Fidel Castro sent an army to Africa to help leftist countries end colonization.
Israel was used twice as a mercenary state to set up Arabs. During the Suez crisis in 1956, Israel was part of the tripartite conspiracy along with France and Britain. Their aim was to harm Gamal Abdel Nasser’s regime and seize control of the Suez Canal.
Eisenhower to the rescue
America, which at the time was led by Dwight Eisenhower, saved him by forcing the three countries to retreat.
Later on, America led by Lyndon Johnson used Israel in the Six-Day War to defeat Abdel Nasser and the Arab nationalist project. The role which the Syrian sectarian regime may have played in involving Abdel Nasser in a war he was not ready for remains unclear until today.
What’s stranger and funnier is that America under George W. Bush’s rule seemed like it was hired to serve Iraqi sectarian groups to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime. Yes, Saddam was a heavy burden on Arabs and on the international community and it was a must to replace him.
However, America handed Iraq to Iran’s aides during the presidential terms of Bush and Barack Obama. This was a grave strategic mistake that led to the increase of ISIS’ terrorism that sought vengeance against the Shiites and the US. Arabs lost Iraq and it was no longer an eastern wall that protected the Arab nation. Iran was thus enabled to dominate Syria and Lebanon and it controlled Hamas and infiltrated Yemen.
There is a predator system in Iran that recruited multinational organizations and militias as mercenaries to fight on its behalf so it can avoid accusations that it’s directly involved in wars that destabilize the Arab region.
Mercenaries under Soleimani
Few weeks ago, I said there is a real Iranian army made of mercenaries fighting in a Syrian desert where temperatures approach 50 degrees. It’s fighting under the command of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Al-Quds Brigades, but not to reach Quds (Jerusalem) but to reach Raqqa and Deir al-Zour and prevent the US and its Kurdish mercenaries from replacing ISIS in East Syria.
There is an international and regional war in the Syrian Desert. America, Europe, Turkey and Gulf countries are participating in this war via armies made of mercenaries that consist of Kurds, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Chechens, Afghans and citizens from Gulf countries.
Soleimani brought with him to the desert the “Fatimid” militia that consists of Kazkh Ismaili mercenaries in North Afghanistan.
Iran made two million Shiite Afghans who reside in Iran choose between returning to Afghanistan or fighting as mercenaries in Syria and settling in it. The Iranian missiles did not kill ISIS members in Raqqa as Iran claimed but it hit Kurdish mercenaries who were fighting on behalf of America in the stricken city. In order to protect them, America downed two Syrian regime jets. The regime only has its air force to fight as it lost around 400,000 army recruits as they were either killed or wounded or they escaped.
The mercenaries’ armies will reach Raqqa and Deir al-Zour. A new war of mercenaries will erupt there and it may go as far as reaching a confrontation between Russia which Iran hired and America which the separatist Kurds hired to resume establishing their state on Syria’s ruins.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Ghassan Imam is a Syrian journalist and writer.