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ّموقع أفكار اغترابيّة- الأديب اللبنانيّ المهجري الدكتور جميل الدويهي

لأدب مهجريّ راق

 

Jamil Doaihi (PhD), Afkar Ightirabiah, 2015

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Table of Contents

Foreword and Dedication

Ehdenians: People of Faith and Courage

The Earliest Ehdenian Battles:

1-The Battle of  Palestine

2-Sennecherib’s Invasion

3- Ehden under Alexander’s Reign

4-Destruction of Ehden by Pompeii

5-The Battle against Maurikios and  Marikianos                                                                                                                     

6-Invasion of the Arabs

Al Marada of Ehden and the Europeans (between 669 and 1266)

The Ehdenian Battles between 13th and  17th Centuries:

1- The Battle of 1282

2-The Battle against the  Jacobites (1489)                             

3- The Blaze of 1586

4- The Battle of  Zagharta (1676)                                                                                                                                                                                Between 1692 -1800:

1-Sheikh Michael Nahlous Al Ehdini (1692-1704)

2-The Battle of Sheikh’s Mill (1757)

3-The Uprising against the Hamadis 1759

4-Sheikh Bechara Karam and the Hamadis

5-Sheikh Youssef Francis Karam and Battles of 1771

6-Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi’s Support for Prince Youssef Shehab

Battles of Sheikh Bechara Karam and Sheikh Boutros Karam:

1-The Battle against Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian (1838)

2-The Battle of Baabda and Kfarshima (1841)

3- The Battle against Omar Pasha (1842)

4- Confronting the Druze again (1845)

5- Boutros Karam Opposes the Ottoman Army(1845)

The Most Famous Battle of Youssef Bey Karam:

1- Against Tanios Chahine

2- The Road to Zahle (1860)

3- Boutros Houbaish’s Incident (1862)

4- Tabarja - Maamiltain Battle (January 6, 1866)

5-The Battle of Ain Seb’el (March 1, 1866)

6- The Battle of Inata (March 22, 1866)

7- The Battle of Bnas’i (January 28, 1866)

8- The Battle of Miziara’s Valley (August 20, 1866)

9- A confrontation in Ehden (December 18, 1866)

The Battles of 20th Century:

1-The Battle of Al Hussein’s Bridge in Syria (1922)

2-The Ehdenians and the Revolution of the Druze (1925)

3-Sheikh Wadih Asaad Douaihi -The Battle of Baazaran (1926)

4-Revolution of Dannieh (1926)

5-The Battles of 1975-1976

 

 

Between 1692 -1800

1-Sheikh Michael Nahlous

Al Ehdini (1692-1704)

In 1692, the governor of Tripoli, Ali Pasha, appointed Sheikh Michael Nahlous Al Ehdini as the ruler of Jebbeh.

Sheikh Nahlous was born in Ehden. He was the nephew of Sheikh Abou Karam son of Bechara, who was the ruler of Jebbeh between 1674-1677. Sheikh Nahlous was involved in a long struggle against the Hamadis.

In 1750, the Hamadis’ ruling of Jebbeh became unbearable. The Hamadis considered the Maronite people as servants who worked for their masters, and begged for food and clothes. The Hamadis labeled the Maronite Church with bitter descriptions and they abused the Maronite clergy. In fact, they decided,  with the Harfouche family,  to

destroy the Maronite sect.

The Hamadis demolished the churches and built mosques instead. They prohibited Zagharta’s citizens from ringing their churches’ bells. They allowed them to use only wooden bells. Before the Sunday mass, one Ehdenian man used to walk in the streets of Zagharta, carrying a wooden bell and a stick to call people to the mass. Furthermore, Ehdenians were banned from building domes over their churches.

In 1691, the governor of Tripoli, Mohammad Pasha supported the Hamadis, but in a few months another ruler, Ali Pasha, was appointed. He tried to weaken the Hamadis and appointed Sheikh Michael Nahlous as the ruler of Ehden and Jebbeh. Meanwhile, an order was sent from Istanbul to Tripoli’s governor, urging him to capture the Hamadi leaders and prevent them from assaulting the poor people.

The order read: “The people of Koura and Dannieh in Tripoli’s province came to us and complained against the villains who live near their boundaries and who have been kept assaulting them during the several previous years. The civilians of those two areas don’t receive any kind of protection. Day after day, the Hamadis will expand their control on the whole province. Moreover, the villains attacked Koura, killed 10 people, robbed money and seized crops. Hence, the citizens and their families are living with famine and disrespect. Capture the tyrants and stop their assaults on the poor people.”

(حمادة، سعدون، مج 2، 2008، ص 169)

During that period of time, Zagharta was not fully owned by the Ehdenians. The Hamadis used to own some part of the town, but Sheikh Nahlous declared full control of Zagharta and ordered the citizens of Zagharta to freely practice their religion without any fear.

The villagers in Lebanon recalled two poetry verses honoring the courage of Sheikh Nahlous:

يحرز دينَك يا نحلوس               حميت الجبّه بالدبّــــوس

جامــــع رشعين هدّيتو              وبزغرتا دقّ الناقــــوس

(God bless you Nahlous,

You protected Jebbeh with your stick,

You demolished Rash’in’s Mosque,

Hence, the church’s bell rang in Zagharta.)

Rash’in is a little village near Zagharta. Mohammad Pasha Al Arna’out had built a palace and a mosque in that village in 1642, but Sheikh Nahlous demolished the mosque and repelled the Hamadis from all the villages that surround Zagharta. Sheikh Nahlous demolished all the mosques that were built by the Hamadis and he used their stones to rebuild the old churches that were destroyed by the Hamadi leaders. Many ancient churches in Zagharta and nearby villages were built in Sheikh Nahlous’ era.

Unfortunately, Sheikh Nahlous was assassinated while he was sleeping in a house in Dannieh, by a Shiite man called Son of Al Shakrani (1704).

The killing of Sheikh Michael Nahlous happened after he was appointed by the governor of Tripoli to receive the tax money from Dannieh. Some villagers invited him to sleep in one of their houses. Son of Alshakrani was a farmer. He woke up at night and lit a lamp to see Sheikh Michael Nahlous. He fired on him with a primitive rifle and fled the house. It was clear that Son of Shakrani conspired to kill Sheikh Nahlous with the house’s owners. No one from Dannieh vowed to pursue the Son of Shakrani.

2-The Battle of Sheikh’s Mill (1757)

Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi was a well known leader of Jebbeh and Ehden.

Boutros Wehbe Douaihi described Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi as “the Liberater of Ehden”. He wrote: Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi was a dignitary and brave man in Jebbeh.  He  was  also  a  great  leader  in his hometown (الدويهي، بطرس، 2002، ص 339).

It was well known that Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi was the libarator of Ehden from the harsh ruling of Hamadi family. The Hamadis were controlling the eastern parts of Ehden, between Al Midan and Saint Sarkis’ spring. Without Sheikh Georges’ bravery  and   heroism,  Ehden  would   have been a different town.

Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi received a petition from the governor of Tripoli, Osman Pasha,  who was a bitter enemy of the Hamadis to confront the sons of Ahmad Hamadi and drive them away from Ehden. In return, the governor promised that he will grant Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi to be the ruler of Ehden.

Sheikh  Georges  called some of his relatives and other men from Ehden. A secret meeting was held in Ju’it valley, behind Our Lady of Fortress Church in Ehden, where a call for revolution against the Hamadis had been raised. The meeting coincided with the arrival of two Hamadi leaders with their men to Jebbeh. Their mission was to capture the Maronite Archbishop, Joakim, and exile him to Baalbak. The Maronite fighters jumped to their arm to defend their archbishop and killed all the attackers. The Maronite men returned to Saint Georges' in Ehden and took an oath before the Holy Bread not to lay their arms before the liberation of their land. The Hamadis and the Harfouche family were surprised by this fierce revolution.

The Ehdenians, led by Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi attacked the Hamadis in Ehden. A great battle erupted near Sheikh’s Mill, and the Ehdenians managed to free their town from the Hamadis and took control over their lands.

The area today known as ‘Harat Mar Boutros’ was controlled by the Hamadis. Sheikh Georges built his house in that area and called his relatives to build their houses nearby. There was no church in that part of Ehden.  He  constructed  the  church of Saint Peter and Paul to honor his father, Boulos.

The governor of Tripoli awarded Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi and appointed him as the Ehden’s first ruler. Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi died in 1779. His body rests in peace under the Church of Saint Peter and Paul. 

3-The Uprising against The Hamadis (1759)

Due to the Hamadi’s oppression, the Ehdenians declared war against them again in 1759.

The history of Zagharta is sadly labeled with many crimes that the Hamadis committed against the Ehdenians. The Hamadis sent Mohammad Al Arak to kill the Ehdenian ruler of Jebbeh, Sheikh Hanna Bou Dib (1641-1643). During the ruling of Sheikh Abou Karam, son of Bechara, on Jebbeh (1674-1677), Sheikh Housain Ahmad Hamadi assasinated, in Hairouna Valley, Deacon Antoine Douaihi, who was on his way to Ehden during one night. Deacon Antoine was the brother of Ehden’s Archbishop Sarkis Douaihi.

In 1704, Issa Hamadi slapped the greatest Patriarch, Estephan Douaihi, on his face. The Patriarch was then an old man. He was forced, on   several   occasions, to   leave  his patriarchal Chair and flee to Kesrawan.

Patriarch Douaihi sent in 1700 a letter to the French King, Louis the Fourteenth, to inform him about the Maronites’ suffering.

Douaihi quoted that the Hamadis imposed taxes on priests, monks, Women, orphans, widows and children... The Hamadis captured men and kids, and they hanged women from their breasts on trees. Then, Patriarch Douaihi described how the Maronite people were shattered and obliged to move to some foreign countries and how the Hamadis intimidated the Patriarch himself. He was forced to camouflage himself in normal clothes and hide in valleys  to protect himself from their hands.

(Douaihi, J, and Douaihi, R., 2007, p.p. 157-158)

In 1755, he Hamadis took control over Jebbeh and Ehden. There were two groups of Hamadis: The first group consisted of Hussein Al Issa Hamadi, Asaad Moussa Hamadi, Abd Al Malik Hamadi and his son Jahjah. They governed   Ehden. The   second   group consisted of Abi Hussein Saleh Hamadi, Soulayman Abi Kassem Hamadi, Hassan Abi Nassif Hamadi and the son of Nassr Hamadi. They took control over Becharre and Hasroun.

Father Francis Rahme wrote that the Hamadis divided Ehden and Jebbeh areas as the following:

- Hussein Hamadi: Becharre, Kannoubine, Aitou and Baz’oun.

- Asaad Abou Moussa Hamadi: Hasroun, Blaouza, Kfarsghab, Toula, Karmsaddeh and Raskifa.

- Abou Nassif Hamadi: Ehden.

- Abou Hussein Saleh Hamadi: Aintourine, Mazra’et Al Teffah, Bnash’i, Knat, Barhalioun, Hamatoura, Kfarsaroun, and Bait Z’aiter.

- Abou Kassem Hamadi: Kozhaya’s Monastery, Hadchit and Bkaa – Kafra.

(رحمه، فرنسيس، 1956، ص 350)

The citizens of Ehden, Becharre and Hasroun signed an agreement with the Hamadis. The Hamadis promised not to interfere in the religious issues and matters of honor, but the Hamadis disrespected the agreement. One day, a Hamadi man admired a girl from Becharre and tried to convince her to go with him. She refused and abused him. He attempted to kidnap her. The citizens of Becharre were attended the mass at Saint Saba's church. They heard the girl screaming and they rushed to save her. They apprehended the man, and the brothers of the girl beheaded him. After 10 days, the Hamadis attacked Becharre to avenge the killing of their relative, but Becharre’s fighters repelled them.

The  Hamadis also wanted to kill the leaders

of Ehden and Jebbeh: Sheikh Hanna Daher Keirouz and Sheikh Issa Al Khoury Rahme from Becharre, Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi from Ehden and Sheikh Abou Solayman Awwad from Hasroun. The Hamadis ambushed the leaders while they were leaving a meeting. The Hamadis’ ambush failed, but they managed to kill Sheikh Abi Daher of Hadchit. Then, they attacked Blaouza and killed a man and a woman along with their son while they were sleeping on the top of their houses. From Blaouza, the Hamadis moved to Aintourine where they killed a farmer in his field and burnt his body. They also killed another blind man from Hadchit.

But the main reason behind the uprising of the Ehdenians against the Hamadis in 1759 was a plot prepared by the Hamadis to kill the Archbishop of Ehden, Joachim Yammine. They sent Ahmad Abd Al Malik Hamadi and Hassan Abi Nassif Hamadi to capture the Archbishop or assassinate him.

The  Archbishop  wrote  to  the  governor  of Damascus, complaining against the harshness of the Hamadis. The governor sent a letter to the Archbishop. He permitted the Ehdenians to confront the Hamadis and put an end to their ruling on Jebbeh.

On October 7, 1759, Archbishop Yammine presided a mass in Ehden and urged his followers to get ready for the battle against Ahmad Hamadi and his followers.

The Hamadis attempted to attack Ehden during the mass. Some brave Ehdenian  men, Bamin Yammine, Issa Yammine, Jbeir Karam, Antonios Ke’dou, Youssef Basim, Zakhia Chalhoub and Jabbour Azizi were guarded the church. They saw the Hamadis attacking from the eastern district, the higher district near Al Midan, and Al Akaibeh.

The Ehdenians rushed heartily to tackle their enemies. Jbeir Karam, Youssef Basim and Zakhia Chalhoub confronted the armed Hamadis who attacked from the east. Bamin Yammine and Issa Yammine tackled another group near Al Midan.

Issa Yammine punched, with a stick, the leader of the Hamadis, Hassan Abou Nassif. Abou Nassif’s blood splashed onto the wall of Zakhia Chalhoub’s house, while Issa Yammine killed another leader, Son of Abd Al Malik, near Saint Mamas. Antonios Ke’do and Youssef Basim ambushed the third group of men near Akaibeh.

The Ehdenian fighters, who were attending the mass, joined their colleagues. They pushed the Hamadis out of Ehden and chased them to Kannoubine. There, they captured one Hamadi leader. They escorted him to Ehden, where they killed him in front of Archbishop Yammine’s house.

The next day, Ehden became packed with local fighters and volunteers from neighboring villages, while the leaders, Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi, Sheikh Hanna Daher Keirouz, Sheikh Issa Al Khoury Rahme, Sheikh Abou Solayman Awwad, Sheikh Abou Youssef Elias from Kfersghab and Sheikh Abou Khattar Chidiac from Aintourine had a brief meeting and determined to appoint themselves as rulers of Jebbeh and Ehden instead of the Hamadis.

The Maronite leaders moved quickly to Tripoli to inform the governor, Ismail Al Kargi, about their decision to rule their territories and they agreed to pay a huge amount of money in return. They appointed three military leaders: Sheikh Bechara Karam from Ehden, Sheikh Abou Daher Al Farz from Becharre and Abou Elias Al Afreet from Hasroun. The mission of the three military leaders was to protect the order and oppose any attempt by the Hamadis to return to Jebbeh or Ehden.

4-Sheikh Bechara Karam (1757-1763) and the Hamadis

Bechara Karam was one of three military leaders who was appointed by the leaders of Jebbeh in 1757.

Youssef Debs, who wrote about that period of time, argues that the Sheikhs of the Hamadis took control over Jbeil, Batroun and Jebbeh… They practiced some sort of justice and righteousness, but their sons practiced robbery, injustice and killing. Between 1750 and 1759, they disrupted the villagers’ life and killed many innocent people.

The ruler of Tripoli, Osman Pasha Al Karaji, supported the Maronite leaders in Ehden and Jebbeh and helped them confront the Hamadis who used to wreak havoc in Zagharta neighborhoods and some areas of Tripoli (الدبس، يوسف، 1982،  ص 274). 

In 1761, the Hamadis attacked Becharre. They killed many civilians and destroyed homes.

The citizens of Becharre and Hasroun called their Ehdenian neighbors for help. Sheikh Bechara Karam rushed with his men from Ehden and ambushed the Hamadi attackers.

The battle of Becharre lasted eight hours. The Ehdenians forced the Hamadis again to leave Jebbeh. They killed twelve attackers and  chased  the  others to the highest mountains of Hasroun.

Sheikh Bechara Karam killed two Hamadi leaders. One of them was Sheikh Mokdad, while the Ehdenians lost only one man: Youssef Jbeir Karam.

Issam Karam describes the Battle of 1761 as the following: Becharre had been attacked by a thousand heavy armed Shiite fighters. The Maronites were surprised by this huge assault, but their religious leaders, particularly Patriarch Toubia Al Khazen, (1756-1766) gathered the Maronite people in the churches and encouraged them to resist with the protection of the Virgin Mary and the support of the Dannieh Governor, Sheikh Nassif Raad. The Maronite people claimed victory under the leadership of Sheikh Bechara Karam. That battle lasted eight hours. Father Goddard recounts that, according to elders, in the sunset of that day, the sky was full of clouds and a rainbow emerged over the battlefield, from which a bright white light appeared, with a lady holding a sword and hitting the ground with it. The Maronite fighters screamed: “This is the Virgin Mary, This is the Virgin Mary… She is here to protect us”. The Hamadi fighters were stunned by this view. They were frightened by the Virgin Mary. They fled the battlefield, and Jebbeh had been liberated (كرم، عصام، 2006، ص  41- 43).

Following this battle, Sheikh Bechara Karam became the political and military leader of Jebbeh.

In 1763, the Hamadis tried  to attack Jebbeh again, but Sheikh Bechara Karam and his men resisted them.

One day, Sheikh Bechara was heading back to Ehden with a few of his men. The Hamadis surprised them from behind near Al Maghaira. Sheikh Bechara was killed along with six of his men, namely Rizkallah Frangie, Jibrin Mouawad, Ibrahim Al Khoury Abboud, Daoud Bou Moussa and his cousin Issa Bou Moussa. The sixth victim was an unknown man from Dannieh.

5- Sheikh Youssef Francis Karam and Battles of 1771

Sheikh Youssef Francis Karam was born in Tripoli. When he moved to Ehden in 1771, the leadership of Ehden was held by Youssef Boulos Douaihi, but Sheikh Youssef Francis Karam was considered a local leader until he inherited the leadership of Ehden, following the death of Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi in 1788.

There is only a sketchy description of the battle of 1771 battles. Some clashes erupted in Akoura, Dar B’eshtar and Kalmoun between Prince Bashir Haidar Al Shehabi (aka the Fat) and the Hamadis.

 ( بو زيد، سركيس، 2006، ص 23)

Issa Iskandar Al Maalouf describes the battles of 1771 as the following:

The Hamadis' Sheikhs unified their forces against  Prince  Bashir  Haidar Al Shehabi in

Akoura. The war erupted and lasted from sunrise to sunset. Jebbet Becharre’s men supported Prince Bashir and defeated the Hamadis who lost eight men while Bashir lost three fighters. The next day, another group of fighters arrived from Jebbeh to support Prince Bashir. The Hamadis fled with their families from Jebbet Al Mounaitara and Almat Valley to Dar B’eshtar in Koura. The Jebbeh's fighters waited for them in Hamatoura, near Kosba… Sheikh Asaad Al Khoury, who was a brilliant leader of Prince Bashir's army in Beirut, rushed to Dar B’eshtar with his Moroccan soldiers and attacked the Hamadis. The Hamadis lost two men while fifteen Moroccans were killed. Sheikh Asaad Al Khoury returned to Bziza and contacted Jebbeh’s fighters in Hamatoura. They met him in Bziza with other fighters from Akoura. The Hamadis fled again to the coast. Sheikh Asaad Al Khoury chased them to Enfeh, then to Kalamoun. About a hundred Hamadis were killed. Kalamoun’s citizens urged Sheikh Asaad to stop fighting. The Hamadis moved to Tripoli, then to Hermel (المعلوف، عيسى، 2003، ص 254 – 255).

The leaders of Ehden, Jebbeh, Jbeil and Batroun supported Prince Bashir’s army. Sheikh Youssef Francis Karam and the Ehdenians were the first fighters from North Lebanon who arrived in Akoura to fight with Prince Bashir.

The Battle of 1771 was the last battle against the Hamadis, who resided in Eastern Lebanon and kept ambushing the Maronite villages. Before that year, the large area between Ehden and Zagharta was dominated by Shiite villages or Maronite - Shiite villages. Issam Khalifeh, who studied the Ottoman Archive quoted that many pure Shiite villages and mixed villages had existed. (خليفة، 1996، ص 80)  This means that the demographic shape of Zawyeh changed after 1771.

6-Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi (1779-1788) Supports Prince Youssef Shehab

Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi was the son of Sheikh Georges Boulos Douaihi. He inherited the leadership after the death of his father in 1779. Sheikh Youssef was a well known hero.

In 1788, the war erupted between Prince Youssef Melhem Shehab and Ahmad Pasha Al Jazzar (the Butcher), who was then the governor of Akko.

Al Jazzar endorsed Bashir (the Great) as the ruler of Shouf and Kesrawan, and offered him a thousand men and arms to fight against Prince Youssef Melhem Shehab who fled to Aley, Hammana, Mtein, Akoura then Lehfed (Jbeil), where he gathered some Maronite fighters and demanded the help of Jebbeh and Ehden’s leaders.

Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi vowed to help Prince Youssef. He moved with his Ehdenian men to the Mihal Valley, between Ehmej and Laklouk, and joined the men of Prince Youssef Shehab.

The resistance against Prince Bashir’s army was excellent, but Bashir had the largest number of men and the unlimited support of Ahmad Pasha Al Jazzar.

The Ehdenians fought heroically. Yet their leader Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi was killed.

Prince Youssef Shehab fled to Ehden with the remaining Ehdenian men, but the governor of Tripoli ordered him to head to the Bekaa Valley. He fled to Tarayya and kept moving from village to village until he was killed by Al Jazzar himself.

(بو زيد، سركيس، 2006، ص 22- 23)

One of the Shehabi princes described the conflict between Prince Bashir and Prince Youssef Shehab as the following:

Prince  Youssef’s  sons  and their followers had fled to Tripoli. The governor of the city, Moussa Pasha, was away collecting taxes. His vice, the governor of Dannieh, Fadel Raad Agha, was a close friend of Prince Youssef, and still loyal to him. He offered the prince and his men all that they needed, and received them with respect. Then Prince Bashir sent his army, led by his brother Prince Hassan, to the village of Zagharta, near Tripoli, and they besieged the village. Prince Bashir led his army to the village of Ehden. His intentions were unclear. All the Shehabi princes and Lebanese dignitary accompanied Prince Bashir to Ehden.

(تاريخ الأمراء الشهابيّين، ج 2، 1984، ص 164)

The  Shehabi  prince  mentioned  that Prince Bashir   besieged   Zagharta. Prince Youssef Shehab might have taken refuge in Zagharta before fleeing to Ehden.

The sacrifice of Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi showed the Ehdenians’ pledge to defend Lebanon. Prince Bashir represented Al Jazzar’s interest, while Prince Youssef Shehab represented the Lebanese ideology.

The main reason behind the support of Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi to Prince Youssef was the prince’s tough policy against the Hamadis. He strived to control them and forced them to pay taxes. He confronted them in several battles in Amioun, Jbeil, Akoura and Kalamoun. They fled to Baalbek.

Following the death of Sheikh Youssef Boulos Douaihi, Ehden’s leadership moved to Karam’s family, for Sheikh Youssef had two daughters: Kattour and Adba. Sheikh Boutros Karam and Adba were married after the death of Sheikh Youssef.

 

Battles of Sheikh Bechara Karam and Sheikh Boutros Karam:

1-Sheikh Boutros Karam(1806-1846) and the Battle against Ibrahim Pasha the Egyptian (1838)

Ibrahim Pasha was the son of Mohammad Ali Pasha, the ruler of Egypt. He led military operations on behalf of his father in Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Greece, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon. His father led a coup against the Turks and attacked Turkey. He established the Egyptian state which stretched to Europe.

In 1832, the Ottoman leader of Aleppo, Saradar, sent six thousand fighters to recover Akko off the hands of Ibrahim Pasha, but the Lebanese fighters, who were loyal to Ibrahim Pasha, confronted the Ottoman troops near Al Bared River and defeated them.

Since 1833, the bonds between Ibrahim Pasha and the Maronite people in North Lebanon started to fade.

The Lebanese Prince Bashir Al Shehabi was a close ally of Ibrahim Pasha, since Bashir visited Egypt in 1834 and met Mohammad Ali Pasha. The relations between the Ehdenians and Prince Bashir were always unstable.

It is important to mention that the Ehdenians’ uprising against Ibrahim Pasha was not separate from the whole national movement in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria since 1834.

The Ehdenians’ movement against the Egyptian Army did not mean that they supported the Ottomans against Ibrahim Pasha. It only meant that they had opposed any invader, regardless of his nationality or origin.

In 1838, the Ehdenians and other Lebanese heard that Ibrahim Pasha had planned to recruit all Lebanese men in his army and he sent one of his military experts, Omar Pasha, to achieve this goal. Some Lebanese families moved to Cyprus and Greece to save their children from the recruitment plan. Ibrahim Pasha ordered his army to collect arms from the Lebanese villages.

 (أبو صالح، عباس، 1984، ص 273-276)

Furthermore, Ibrahim Pasha began to implement a terrible economic policy in the Lebanese mountain. He vowed to monopolize the essential merchandise, so he tried to buy all the silk products in Lebanon and Syria, and planned to unearth coal from Kernael, Slima, Falougha and Mairouba. He also imposed a new sort of tax called “Al Farda”. This tax was implemented on teenagers who were over twelve years old. It ranged between 10 and 250 piasters a year.

(رعد، مارون، 1993، ص 226)

Another hefty tax was imposed on poor people, deprived farmers and artisans.

(سعيد، عبد الله ابراهيم، 2008، ص 264)

The  clashes  between  Prince Bashir and the Ehdenians erupted when the prince sent some of his men to Ehden’s woodland to cut trees. They were confronted by two brave Ehdenian men, Elias Al Rahban and Roumanos Al Ashi. Soon after, the two men infiltrated with some of their friends to Tripoli and killed all the guards of a military warehouse, which belonged to the Egyptian Army.

Al Rahban and  Al Ashi returned to Zgharta carrying boxes of riffles and ammunition. Youssef Bey Karam was then a young man. He was disturbed by such behavior.

The Egyptians sent more than one thousand soldiers with cannons to Majdelia and Zagharta. The cannons were set on Dahr Al Nousairiah.

The citizens of Zagharta prepared themselves to resist the attack, which lasted about forty minutes.

Two local fighters, Ibrahim Akle and his son, Jabbour, killed  several  soldiers  before they were killed. The Egyptian Army entered Zagharta and wreacked havoc. They chased the Ehdenian fighters to Kfarhata. There, three Ehdenian men were captured and murdered in cold blood. 

Elias Al Rehban and Roumanos Al Ashi showed a great deal of valor. Their mission was to protect women and children from the Egyptian swords.

Ibrahim Pasha ordered his army in Tripoli and Iaal to join the attack on the Ehdenians. The local fighters divided their forces into two sections, one took positions in Hairouna under the leadership of Michael Karam. The other, commanded by Elias Al Rehban and Roumanos Al Ashi, took position in Bnash’i.

Two great battles erupted in Hairouna and Bnash'i. The Egyptians fled to Tripoli and the Ehdenians confiscated their rifles, swords and ammunition. Seven Hundred riffles and four hundred swords fell to the hands of the Ehdenians.

In   Aleppo,   Ozman  Pasha  Al   Masri  (the

Egyptian) received the news about the Egyptian Army’s defeat. He decided to move to Lebanon with eight thousand soldiers. They were confronted by a frail Kesrawani resistance. The Egyptian Army advanced to North Lebanon, while Ibrahim Pasha ordered his men to attack Ehden from Baalbek and Becharre.

The Turks and the British heard about the attack on Ehden. They sent to Lebanon a boat full of arms to Heri, near Chekka, in order to assist the Ehdenians. Elias Al Rehban and Roumanos Al Ashi were sent to Chekka with sixty men to receive the arms. On their way back to Ehden, the Egyptian troops ambushed them in Akbat Hairouna,  but the two men managed to escape.

On September 19, 1840 about two thousand local fighters gathered under the Lebanese Cedar, near Becharre, led by Sheikh Boutros Karam. They drew their plan to defend the Maronite mountains. Elias Al Rehban and Roumanos Al Ashi led three hundred fighters to guard the passages of Dahr Al Kadib. They were attacked by the Egyptian Army. Elias Al Rehban was killed by a bullet to his stomach. Two other defenders were killed with him, Moussa Michael Douaihi and Youssef Elias Akouri.

Roumanos Al Ashi was struck by a deadly fever and he died three weeks later.

During the confrontation between the Ehdenians and Ibrahim Pasha the Egyptian, the local fighters demonstrated a great sense of sacrifice. Among the victims were Youssef Glamidis and his son Jabbour, Shahin Karam, Antonios Kabalan, Antonios Al Ahl, Youssef Al Saifi, Sem’an Makary and Boutros Al Tetn.

Fortunately, Ibrahim Pasha’s era ended when the European countries opposed him, and forced him to go back to Egypt. 

2-The Battle of Baabda and Kfarshima (1841)

In 1841, during the great conflict between some Druze and Maronites, the Druze attacked Deir Al Kamar in the Shouf district. The leaders of Deir Al Kamar sought the aid of Sheikh Boutros Karam for help. He led about five hundred men to the Shouf region. The Druze fighters ambushed them between Baabda and Kfarshima (near Al Warwar Well). The Ehdenians resisted the attack and killed many offenders. Following this battle, the Druze fighters broke their siege around Deir Al Kamar.

3-The Battle against Omar Pasha (1842)

Omar Pasha (the Austrian) was the Ottoman ruler of Lebanon. In 1842, he ordered the Governor of Tripoli to chase and capture the leaders of the Al Dahdah family who opposed his instructions. They took refuge in Ehden. When the Governor’s army reached Ehden, Sheikh Boutros Karam and his men confronted them in Akbat Hairouna and confiscated their horses and arms. The attackers fled to Tripoli.

Youssef Bey Karam, the Lebanese hero, was then a young man. He fought the attackers along with his father, Sheikh Boutros, for the first time, and displayed an outstanding performance.

The Ehdenians still remember two verses that an unknown poet wrote about the bravery of Youssef Bey Karam, during the battle of Akbat Hairouna. They said:

يوسف بيك بالعقبه رابِـــــط      قتل باشا وأربعمية ضابِط

عُمَر باشا لا تخشى المرابِط      إجاك البيك قطّاع الرقــاب

(Yousef Bey is standing in Akbeh

He killed a Pasha and four hundred officers

Omar Pasha do not fear the mounds

The heads cutter Youssef Bey is coming after you.)

4-Confronting the Druze (1845)

In 1845, a group of Druze men besieged Zahle in Bekaa. Sheikh Boutros Karam moved swiftly to help the people of Zahle. He confronted the Druze fighters near Kahlounieh and Abadieh and prevailed. Francis Ke’do showed a great deal of courage while carrying the Christian flag on which was written: الله ينصر دين المسيح.

The Ehdenians returned to Ehden following a conflict between Kesrawan’s leaders about the headship and expanses of the war.

5-Boutros Karam Opposes the Ottoman Army (1845)

By the end of 1845, the Ottoman Army swept the Lebanese villages to collect the arms from all the Lebanese. The soldiers treated people harshly and broke into homes and churches. Their conduct provoked the villagers who organized themselves under the leadership of Sheikh Boutros Karam and his son, Youssef.

The Ottoman Army was led by Namek Pasha. Soon after they reached a place called Al Douair, between Tannourine and Hadath Al Jebbeh, they were surprised by the Maronite fighters, but the local fighters were disrupted by the turbulent weather, hence they retreated to Hadeth Al Jebbeh, then to Becharre. Sheikh Boutros Karam ordered his followers to stand firm in Becharre and to fight to the last man.

Namek Pasha offered the Ehdenians a cease- fire. He voweed not to enter Ehden if Sheikh Boutros Karam and his son, Youssef agreed to lay their arms down. The two Sheiks decided to continue their resistance from Ehden. Namek Pasha besieged Ehden, which was the last undefeated Maronite  town in Lebanon. Under the pressure of the offenders, many Ehdenians left their homes and took refuge in Mazra’et al Teffah.

Namek Pasha renewed his truce offer, but Sheikh Boutros Karam and his son, Youssef, refused to surrender.

Fortunately, the Ottoman government issued an order to Namek Pasha to stop his military action against the Lebanese, and to suspend his mission of collecting arms in the Lebanese mountain.

 

The Most Famous Battles of Youssef Bey Karam:

Youssef Bey Karam was the leader and the Lieutenant Colonel of the Lebanese Christian region since 1861. He was engaged in a long war with Dawood Pasha, the Ottoman ruler over Karam’s ambition towards a free and independent Lebanon. Karam engaged also in limited clashes with another Lebanese leader, Tanious Chahine, who led the “Peasants’ Revolution.”

1-Karam and Chahine:

The conflict between Youssef Bey Karam and Tanious Chahine erupted when Youssef Karam was visiting a school in the village of Aintouta. Tanios Chahine threatened to kill him, fired a bullet in the air and verbally abused him.

Karam  returned  to Jounieh and gathered his men. On March 13, 1861, Karam's fighters attacked Raifoun, the home village of Chahine. Karam captured several men and occupied Chahine’s house for one day. Chahine fled Rifoun. After several hours, Karam released some of the detainees before heading back to Jounieh.

Tanious Chahine did not learn from Raifoun’s lesson. He again provoked Youssef Karam in Ashkout.

Karam wrote about the incident: We moved to Ghosta, then to Ashkout. When we reached the Church, we found a few people. At the end of Ashkout, some members loyal to the tyrant Tanious Chahine fired at us. We retalieted and they ran away. We followed them to Raifoun, where we stayed at the school. Some citizens from Kesrawan villages like Ajaltoun, Raifoun, Ashkout, Klaiat and Zouk visited us, presided by their priests, and assured us their loyalty.

(عيد، رتيب، 1995،  ص 260)

The   relationship   between   the  two  Maronite  leaders, Youssef Karan and Tanios Chahine, improved during the confrontations of 1860 between the Druze and the Maronites. Philip   Hitti   quoted    that   two  symbolic armed  groups  arrived  from  Kesrawan  and North Lebanon to support their brothers in South Lebanon and Matn. One group was led by Youssef Bey Karam from Ehden and Tanios Chahine from Raifoun.

(حتّي، فيليب، 1972، ص 531)

The two leaders could not reach South Lebanon due to the massive pressure which was imposed on them by France and Turkey.

Tanious Chahine approached Karam in 1867 with a hundred of his men and offered him his help. Karam was then heading to attack Dawood Pasha at his headquarters in Bait Al Dine, but the French Consul at the time sent a letter to Karam urging him to stop his military action.

2-The Road to Zahle (1860):

In   the   brink   of   the   great  confrontation  between  the Druze  and  the Christians in Lebanon, hundreds of Druze fighters, led by Ali Bey Hourani and supported by Sa’id Bey Jumblat,  attacked Hasbaya (June 15, 1866).

Ismail Al Atrash brought many Druze fighters from Syria to join their brothers in the Shouf district and Taym Valley. They besieged Zahle, supported by Shiite fighters and Bedouins from Bekaa Valley.

The attackers entered Zahle, killed many citizens and burnt down houses.

Some historians argued that a few fighters from Zahle resisted more than fifteen thousand attackers, but during the collapse of their resistance, they called Youssef Bey Karam for help.

Karam rushed to Zahle with hundreds of northern fighters, but he was surprised by the shortage of the Kesrawani men. Only two hundred men from the whole of Kesrawan joined Karam’s fighters.

Youssef   Karam   contacted   the   European

Consuls and urged them to protect Zahle. He borrowed money to fund displaced people, who took refuge in the Lebanese Maronite monasteries in Jbeil and Batroun.

Karam’s men took positions in Bekfayya. They wanted to prevent the Druze and their supporters from reaching Kesrawan and Matn areas. Surprisingly, Karam was subjected to massive pressure from the Turks and the French, as well as the Maronite Patriarch Boulos Massad.

Karam wrote to the Patriarch, “there is no way to stop the tyrants but to attack them”, but Patriarch Massad vowed to limit the reaction of Karam.

Patriarch Massad was a spiritual leader and a peace advocate who preached for those  who were involved in conflicts to seek peace.

Masaad also heard from the governor of Beirut, Khorshid Pasha, that he will guarantee that Zahle would not fall into the hands of the attackers.

Despite the Patriarch’s stance, Karam continued his way to Zahle. He heard that the Druze had entered the city. He returned to Bekfayya and decided to resist any attack on Matn and Kesrawan.

Henry Jalabert wrote: When he (Youssef Karam) arrived in Kesrawan ahead of a Zghertawi brave - hearted army, he protected the northern region of Nahr Al Kalb from the disaster (Jalabert, Henry, 1978, P. 32).

The Druze fighters entered Zahle after they carried the Christian flags and divided their troops into four groups. In front of each group was a man carrying a cross. They were all singing about the bravery of Karam and his followers.

Zahle’s citizens thought that those fighters were Karam’s men, but they were in fact Druze. The Zahlian fighters left their barracks  and rushed to welcome their allies. The city fell easily into the hands of the offenders (مكاريوس، شاهين، 1983، ص 213).

3-Boutros Houbaish’s Incident (1862):

Boutros Houbaish was a leader of a local militia in Jebbeh. He was a close friend to the Ottomans. One day, Boutros, along with twenty men ambushed Youssef Karam’s sister and two of her servants, and kidnapped her brother - in - law.

Only five Ehdenians attacked the villains and managed to free the abducted man. They fired no more than two bullets. Boutros Houbaish and his men fled.

4-Karam’s Battles Against Dawood Pasha:

Youssef Karam confronted Dawood Pasha in numerous battles such as Bouar, Al Afss, Bnash’i, Seb’el, Ehmej, Nousour Valley, Kfarfou, Hadath, Ain Al Jaouz, Ehden, Ejbeh and Salib Valley. Some of those battles will be described in the following pages.

5-Tabarja-Maamiltain Battle (January 6, 1866):

The Ottoman ruler, Dawood Pasha, detained

three men loyal to Youssef Bey Karam. They were Joachim Bakhos from Ghazir, Youssef Mansour O’daimi and Gergi Boueiri. Joachim Bakhos was familiarly related to Youssef Karam: His brother Tannous was married to Karam’s sister, Therese.

The detention of the three men came after a conflict in Sarba, near Jounieh between some members of the Khadra family and others from Boueiz Family. The Boueizes were loyal to the Ottomans.

Dawood Pasha captured three men devoted to Karam in order to provoke Karam's reaction.

Karam marched to Ghazir with his men. One group of them was delivered to Saint Doumit’s in Bouar and the other was sent to Ibrahim’s River near Jbeil.

Dawood Pasha sent his soldiers to Ghazir. The majority of Ghazir’s citizens were faithful to Dawood Pasha, while other villages like Ghosta, Dar’oun, Shnan’ir, Dlebta, Aramoun and Ashkout, along with Harfoush’s family and Khadra’s family were loyal to Karam.

In Tabarja, north of Jounieh, Dawood Pasha's Bulgarian troops were seen by Karam’s watchers advancing towards the north. A huge battle broke out on Maameltain’s bridge.(عيد، رتيب، 1995، ص 233– 241)

During the battle, Sheikh Boulos Nehme Al Ashi, who was Karam's nephew, Sheikh Michael Tarabay from Tannourine and a Druze soldier who was fighting with Karam were killed. Sheikh Michael Tannouri, one of  Karam’s best fighters and friends, was injured. Karam ordered his men to hold their fire and retreat to North Lebanon.

6-The Battle of Bnash’i (January 28, 1866)

Following Tabarja’s Battle, Karam ordered Zagharta’s citizens to move to Ehden.

Soon after, the Ottoman leader, Amin Pasha,

entered Zagharta. Youssef Karam and his eight hundred   fighters   took   positions   in    Bnash’i and waited for five thousand Ottoman soldiers to approach.

Zagharta was a wealthy town. The Ottoman  soldiers invaded the empty town, and robbed the houses and even Our Lady of Zagharta.

Despite a peaceful meeting in Saint Yaacoub’s - Kfarsghab between Amin Pasha and Karam, the Ottoman military leaders ordered their troops to attack Karam’s fighters. The Turks burnt many houses in Bnash’i. They were opposed by Karam’s men. Youssef Karam was slightly injured in his leg. One thousand five hundred Ottoman soldiers were killed or injured in Bnash’i’s battle, while the others fled. The Lebanese fighters seized six hundred rifles, four cannons, thirty barrels of gunpowder and a big quantity of ammunition.

Following the glorious day in Bnash’i, Ehden and Lebanon paid tribute to some excellent fighters who were killed: Michael Jabbour Saade, Boutros Moussa Frangie, Michael Habib Dahdah, Youssef Al Halbi, Youssef Antonios Al Souss, Rizh Ishak Mouawad and Youssef Bakhos Douaihi.

Ratib Ammoun Eid described the battle of Bnash’i as the following:

“Karam and his men approached the altar and asked Saint Mary to protect them. At 10 o’clock they saw about two hundred Lebanese soldiers loyal to the Ottomans advancing towards them. Another two hundred Turkish soldiers were following their Lebanese counterparts. Bnash’i’s citizens prepared themselves for the confrontation, but Youssef Karam told them not to get worried… When the soldiers arrived in the lowest part of the village, the fear of the villagers was twice over and they decided to fire. Karam ordered them not to react and to withdraw to the highest part of the village. The Lebanese soldiers started to burn some houses in the lower part. Youssef Karam managed to calm down his fighters saying: “Let them burn the houses. This is not the government’s action, but the action of some hasty soldiers.”

Youssef Karam was then at his sister's  house, who lost her son, Sheikh Boulos Nehme Al Ashi, during Tabarja-Ma’miltain battle. It was obvious that the attackers did not spare the houses of the lower part and the higher part. Karam wanted to show his enemies that he does not want to fight. Hence, he ordered his men to move to the outskirts of Bnash’i, but the Lebanese soldier, followed by the Turks, came after them and begun shooting. Karam ordered his men to defend themselves. The Turks rushed to occupy a nearby hill, so they could fire from a higher place. Karam’s men tempted the Lebanese soldiers to a deep valley and they besieged them from all sides. The Lebanese soldiers bravely fought until they wasted their ammunition. Their leaders ordered them to keep firing, but they answered, “We no longer have gunpowder and bullets”. A group of Karam’s men, who were hiding in the bush, attacked the Lebanese soldiers. The majority of the soldiers were killed or detained. Only thirty five of them could flee behind the rocks and arrived in Tripoli fortress…

Karam’s fighters killed Prince Sa’id, who was the leader of the Lebanese soldiers, his cousin Prince Hassan Shehab, Salim Traboulsi and a Druze Sheikh called Soulaiman.

The Turks continued firing from the hill top. Karam divided his men and instructed them to encircle the hill from three sides. Suddenly, the Turks found themselves besieged. Many of them were killed without pity; the others laid their arm to add another number to the detainees.

Amin Pasha rushed to the scene with three thousand Turkish and two hundred Bulgarian soldiers, but the Ehdenians, who were thrilled with their two previous victories (against the Lebanese soldiers and the Turks) did not fear the great number of men. They engaged with them in a fierce battle which lasted several hours. All kinds of arms were used in the conflict.

The attackers lost many lives and were forced to return. Karam’s men chased them to Zagharta and Tripoli…

Amine Pasha was one of the fleeing personnel. He lost his shoes while running away. The Ottoman army lost about fifteen hundred Turkish soldiers and numerous Bulgarians  (عيد، رتيب،1995، ص 261-263).

7-The Battle of Ain Seb’el (March 1, 1866):

Soon after his army's defeat in Bnash’i, Dawood Pasha sent twelve thousand soldiers to North Lebanon under the command of Dervish Pasha. Dawood Pasha ordered his soldiers to kill or capture Youssef Karam.

The Ottoman soldiers invaded Seb’el and Aytou. From there, they moved to Ehden.

Karam  and  his men ambushed the attackers

near Ain Sab’el, between Zagharta and Ehden

and defeated them. The Lebanese defenders regained control on Seb’el and Aytou, after ten hours of heavy fighting.

The local victims of Ain Seb’el Battle were Boutros Touma Al Kousa, Youssef Al Ashi, Youssef Matta Frangie, Abboud Al Badwi Al Kousa, Boutros Ne’me Al Kousa,  Greige

Agnotios Al Masri, Al Badwi Miri, Youssef Elias Yammine, Michael Raffoul Dahdah, Ishak Mouawad and one of Roumanos Dahdah’s daughters.

8-The Battle of Inata (March 22, 1866):

Karam and his men were near Inata, between Becharre and Baalbek. Dawood Pasha ordered his military leader in Baalbek to lead eleven hundred men to the area in order to kill or capture Karam.

Seven Ehdenian men resisted the intruders: Estephan Yammine, Tannous Karam, Asaad Boulos, Elias Al Kortbani, Youssef Barakat, Abou tunn and Abou Hassoun.

Youssef Karam was sitting behind the  rocks

along with Antonios Jerr Douaihi, Antoine Ghazali, Dib Al Beiruti, Youssef Al M’errawi and Gebrael Fashkha. The six men heard the noise of the battle. They rushed to join their colleagues and forced the Ottoman soldiers to flee to Baalbek.

9-The Battle of Miziara’s Valley (August 20, 1866):

Dawood Pasha sent nine thousand soldiers to Miziara’s Valley to search for Youssef Karam and his men. Dervish Pasha himself commanded the Ottoman troops who besieged Miziara... Youssef Karam and his only sixty men managed to leave Miziara’s Valley to  Ehden's woodland in the dark. He said to his followers, “We should choose between two options: to die under our arms or to leave under occupation. What do you choose?” They all replied: “We choose to die under our arms.”

Karam’s  men  fought  ferociously and broke the siege. Two of them were injured and five others were captured.

10- The Battle of Ehden (December 18, 1866):

Dawood   Pasha   ordered   Prince Amin, the

administrator of Batroun municipality, to lead fifty soldiers to Ehden in order to capture Karam.

Karam's house was already burnt. The house’s guard asked the soldiers, “What do you want from this burnt house?” They did not answer and they kept searching around the house. Karam was sleeping in the tavern and he heard the conversation. He got out and addressed the soldiers, “Have you got legs to enter this place?” One of the soldiers collapsed from fear and the others escaped.

Karam’s men and all Ehden’s citizens chased them and captured three of them. A man from Becharre, who was loyal to the Ottomans was injured. Karam handed him to a priest. A few hours later, Karam released the three captured soldiers.

 (عيد، رتيب، 1995، ص 351 – 352)

 

The Battles of 20th Century:

1-The Battle of Al Hussein’s Bridge in Syria (1922)

The Battle of Al Hussein’s Bridge in Syria in 1922 is a clear indication of the friendship between France and the people of Zagharta, as many Ehdenians joined the French troops. They were. Hanna Youssef Saade, Gerges Youssef Saade, Gebrael Saidi, Semaan Roumanos Jerr Douaihi,Youssef Boutros Al Halbi, Greige Sarkis Frangie, Semaan Bou Semaan, Nehme Greige Mouawad, Tannous Elias Al Khoury,Youssef Boutros Al Baba Douaihi, Tannous Ibrahim Moura, Youssef Wehbe Douaihi, Toufic Asaad Yammine, Sa’id Al Badwi Al Akoury, Karim Ishac Mouawad, Sarkis Asaad Yammine, Aziz Youssef Al Frangi, Georges Sarkis Bou Shebel, Michael Bou Rida, Gerges Salim Al Khoury, Sarkis Elias Al Khoury, Salim Youssef Rizk and Sarkis Youssef Dahdah.

In 1919, the French troops were sent to Damascus to put an end to Prince Faisal’s revolution. The French authorities sent the Ehdenians to Tripoli in order to restrain security in the absence of the French troops.

In 1922, Sheikh Saleh Al Ali revolted in Alawis’ Mountain in Syria. His men demolished a bridge called Hussein’s Bridge, near the city of Tartous.

The French asked their friends, the citizens of Zagharta, for help. A group of men vowed to travel to Syria to guard the bridge and prevent the rebels from destroying it again. Most of the Ehdenian volunteers were only tewnty years old. Only one man, Khalil Antonios Frangie, was a few years older.

The French could not believe that those young men could protect the bridge. Khalil Antonios Frangie said to the French commander, “We came here to engage in a fight. You will see during the first battle what those young men from Ehden can do.”

The French commander decided to examine the courage of the Ehdenians. He sent his troops to the bridge at night, and ordered them to fire in the air. As they did, the young Ehdenian men jumped to their arms and confronted the French without knowing that they were their friends. The French troops fled in the bush. Two of them were killed.

Following this incident, the French commander entrusted the Ehdenians a more critical mission, fighting Sheikh Saleh Al Ali and his followers, before they returned to Ehden.

The Ehdenians who helped the French Army in Syria were Khalil Antonios Frangie, Gebrael Antonios Frangie, Wadi’ Khalil Frangie, Jamil Michael Frangie, Fouad Khalil Breiss Frangie, Georges Sarkis Al Kendlaft Mouawad, Hanna Khalil Abboud Mouawad, Nayef Youssef Ke’do Mouawad, Sarkis Al Khawaja, Roumanos Hanna Al Ashi, Boutros Abdallah Basim, Salman Asaad Ayrout, Roumanos Asaad Ayrout, Farid Sem’an Bou Dra’, Youssef Ghantous Saadeh, Bechara Al Hage Al Hosri, Hanna Al Hage Al Hosri, Ezzat Boutros Yammine, Jahjah Boutros Yammine, tannous Al Shakra Finianos, Boutros Asaad Sawma, Tannous Sara, Georges Al Khoury Joachim  Yammine, Youssef Rizk Re’aidy, Jamil Boulos Tannous Douaihi, Youssef Boutros Al Kareh, Sarkis Basim, Gebrael Zallouaa, Sarkis Zallouaa, Georges Zallouaa, Tannous Semaan G’itany, Sa’id Boulos G’itany, Michael Sarkis Al Kareh, Semaan Al Kertbani, Elias Semaan Al Kertbani, Nakhle Abboud, Abboud Khalil Abboud, Doumit Al koussa, Hanna Dahdah, Francis Dahdah, Boulos Astasia, Mehsen Boutros Zakhia Douaihi, Rustom Youssef Al Badri, Boulos Khawam, Boutros Khawam, Youssef Saidi, Kabalan Asaad Yaacoub, Ne’metallah Nassour Karam, Sarkis Elias Al Khoury and Sarkis Asaad Yammine.

 (خازن، سمعان، ج1، 1983، ص 285)

2-The Ehdenians and the  Druze Revolution (1925)

When the Druze Revolution erupted in 1925, A group of rebels crossed the border from Syria and attacked the Christian villages in South Lebanon. They  marched into Hasbaya, then they invaded Kawkaba (Zagharta of the South), which is a tiny village. They burnt houses and killed many citizens.

Boutros Bechara Karam rushed to South Lebanon with forty Maronite fighters, most of them were from Zagharta. They entered Kawkaba and engaged with the attackers. Many volunteers from Hasbayya joined the Syrian attackers. When Boutros Bechara Karam saw the huge number of the rebels, he ordered his men to retreat to Jdaidet Marje’oun.

On Saturday, October 14, Boutros Bechara Karam received a letter from one of the rebels’ leader, Amoud Al Dervish, who urged  Karam  to  leave  South  Lebanon and return to the North.

The Lebanese leaders, especially in South Lebanon, vowed to establish a group of national guards to protect the Lebanese villages against the rebels’ raids. The Lebanese dignitaries referred the command of the group to Sheikh Khalil Karam from Ehden, but the Syrian attackers decided to leave South Lebanon.

3- Sheikh Wadih Asaad Douaihi

The Battle of Baazaran (1926)

Sheikh Wadih Asaad Douaihi was one of the most brilliant military officers in Lebanon during the  Druze revolution. He led numerous military missions in Zahle, Shouf and other parts of Lebanon.

In 1926, he was sent with a handful of his soldiers to Baazaran, at the Shouf district, to capture three dangerous rebels. He apprehended them and prepared to escort them to Beirut. When the military convoy reached the outskirts of Baazaran, other Druze rebels started firing on them. Douaihi and his men took refuge in a house owned by the Jumblat family.

Soon after, Baazaran villagers joined the attackers on the Lebanese military convoy. The attackers’ demand was clear: Release the three rebels or die... After six hours of exchanging fire between the Lebanese soldiers and the Druze fighters, the attackers warned the Lebanese soldiers again to release the captured men. In spite of the great number of the attackers and the tight siege around the Lebanese soldiers, Sheikh Wadih refused the demand and ordered his men to keep fighting.

Another Lebanese Army brigade arrived from Beit El Dine to support Sheikh Wadih and his men. They defeated the attackers and returned to Beirut with the captured rebels.

(الدويهي، بطرس، 2002،  ص 369-370)

4-Revolution of Dannieh (1926)

Dannieh Revolution erupted when Sa’id Al As, who was the chief military leader of the revolution, arrived in Dannieh and encouraged the people to trigger their arms against the French government.

In 1926, three rebels, Mohammad Rashed Shawk, Kassem Shawk and Khodr Mohammad Fatfat, assassinated Salim Michael, who was then a military commander in Seer Dannieh.

Following this incident, the French authorities assumed that the revolution would also erupt in Tripoli. They demanded That Seer Dannieh and Bkarsouna pay thirty three thousand gold piasters, thirty rifles  and five hundred miniatures, in a deadline of ten days.

The two village citizens ignored the request. Hence, the French authorities sent a group of soldiers to Kfarhabou, between Zagharta and Dannieh. The soldiers in Kfarhabou were attacked by the rebels, but they opposed them firmly and defeated them. The rebels fled to the high mountains and left behind them some firearms, ammunition and stolen cattle.

Soon after, the rebels launched another attack on the army after they received support from Sa’id Al As himself. The soldiers vowed to retreat.

The citizens of Zagharta heard the news about the Kfarhabou battles. They also heard that Sa’id Al As was planning on moving his revolution to their neighborhood. They prepared their arms and moved to ‘Eshash to offer their help to the soldiers.

The Ehdenian fighters ambushed the rebels. The almost defeated French soldiers regained their spirits due to the bravery of the Ehdenians. The rebels ran off again.

After the rebels were defeated, their military leader, Sa’id Al As, wrote letters to Sheikh Khalil Karam and Sheikh Fouad Douaihi, asking them not to interfere in the conflict. He urged the two leaders to meet him face to face and discuss the aims of the revolution. They refused to meet him.

Meanwhile, the French leadership sent three battalions to dismantle the revolution. One of them was directed to Meziara - Behwaita, the other was sent to ‘Eshash, and the third took positions in Arka (Akkar). After sporadic fighting, the three battalions met in Seer Dannieh. The French Army used warplanes to shell the rebels’ positions. Two villages, Al Sfiri (Mrah Sfiri) and Bkarsouna, were partially destroyed. As a result, the French regained their control over Dannieh.

As an act of retaliation, the rebels killed in Akroum one Ehdenian soldier, Boutros Khalil Andrawos.

(خازن، سمعان، ج 1، 1983، ص 272) 

Unfortunately, the French authorities did not admire the Ehdenians' support to the French troops. In 1929, the French chose twice Wadih Tarabay as an MP instead of Youssef Karam. The relationship between the French and the Ehdenians deteriorated further when tens of Zagharta's citizens protested in Tripoli. The French troops vowed not to use their rifles for they were aware of the Ehdenians' possible reaction, but some members of the French Army from Syrian origin opened their fire to kill or injured a number of Ehdenians.

5-The Battles of 1975-1976

Since the “Lebanese War” erupted in April 13, 1975, the Ehdenian fighters engaged in several battles, to protect their land and Lebanon’s identity as a free country.

The Zaghartawi warriors guarded the boundaries of Zagharta, between Kobbeh in Tripoli and Majdalayya. With help from the local citizens, they protected Christian villages in Zawyeh, while Muslim villages around Zagharta were also immune from any action of revenge. Zagharta paid a huge price: Tens of martyrs for Lebanon’s sake. Zagharta and Ehden received tons of missiles. Many civilians were killed.

All Ehdenians recalled the great attack of “Al Yarmuke” Brigade, that moved in January 1976, more than eight thousand men from Syria to Bekaa Valley and North Lebanon (نصّار، ناصيف، 1977، ص 299).

More than six thousand heavily armed men attacked  Zagharta from three directions. A handful of “The Zaghartawi Liberation Army - Liwaa Al Marada” defeated the offenders, who were killed, injured or captured.

Khalil Khoury refers to the connections between the pro - Syrian “Al Yarmuke” Brigade and the pressure led by the Syrian government on the then Lebanese president, Soulaiman Frangie. Khoury wrote: The Syrian - Palestinian pressure was extremely immense, especially in Damour and ‘Ishash Monastery, and the Syrian forces entered Lebanon to fight against the Christian side, under the logo of the Palestinian Liberation Army. In January 21, 1976, a Syrian envoy arrived in the presidential palace in Baabda presided by the then Syrian foreign minister, Abd El Halim Khaddam, with the vice defence minister, Hekmat Shehabi and the head of the Arial Intelligence, Nagi Jamil. The President Soulaiman Frangie received the envoy. Khaddam said: We  are here to solve the problem. Meanwhile, the town of Assaadiyat, the haven of the former president Kamil Shamooun, fell into the hands of the attackers. Shamoun managed to escape in a helicopter commanded by a pilot from Abou Dargham family. Damour and Andaket (In Akkar) were invaded...

The Syrian convoy arrival coincided with an unprecedented attack and a fierce battle around Zagharta. It seemed that the main aim of the visit was to put pressure on Soulaiman Frangie, following the fall of the Christian areas into the hands of the Palestinians who were supported by Syria, Russia and the Eastern Block states...

The attack on Zagharta failed and the defenders killed hundreds of militants. Their bodies lay dormant several days in the olive fields that surround Zagharta.

During the meeting between President Frangie and the Syrian convoy, Frangie received hundreds of military identity cards that proved that the deceased attackers were soldiers and officers in the Syrian Army and not Palestinians. Frangie was extremely upset, for he was sure that the man who ordered the attack on Zagharta was a member of the convoy, Hikmat Shehabi.

(الخوري، خليل، 2013،  ص1)

Hazem Saghieh wrote about the battle of January 1976 the following: Zagharta citizens had their own agony with the Syrian regime, for the pro - Syrian “Al Yarmuke” Brigade attacked them and Zagharta was on the verge of defeat. Tens of its citizens and Zawyeh's citizens were killed and a big number of the attackers were shot dead. This battle made the people of Zagharta even prouder. Some of them say that Turkey itself was not strong enough to invade Zagharta.

(صاغية، حازم، والشيخ، بيسان، 2013، ص. 1)

With a small number of men, Zagharta's citizens managed to protect their town and keep it free from any invasion.

Liwaa Al Marada spread the Ehdenian fighters and several men from Zawyeh district, on a forty two kilometer line in ordrer to protect Zgharta, Ehden and the neighborhood. Zagharta was subjected to many attacks such as on September 9, 1975 and January 21, 1976.

On March 11, 1976, the then called “The Arabian Army of Lebanon”, led by Ahmad Al Khatib, attacked two military bases that were loyal to the late president, Soulaiman Frangie, in Kobbeh, Tripoli.

Khatib paved the way for Abd Al Aziz Al Ahdab to declare a military coup and appoint  himself  as   the   Interim   Military Ruler. He demanded the resignation of the President Soulaiman Frangie and his government. He also called the House of Representatives to elect a new president in seven days.

Frangie refused to resign from his post as elected president, despite the great pressure imposed on him. He also dismissed a statement signed by sixty parliament members requiring his resignation. The presidency palace in Baabda was bombarded. Frangie moved to Zouk and told the BBC: “I will continue my term and I won’t resign.” The Lebanese army was accordingly, divided into two sections, One loyal to Abd Al Aziz Al Ahdab and Ahmad Al Khatib and The other, led by Antoine Barakat, was loyal to the president.

(حرب لبنان كي لا يعيد التاريخ نفسه، ص 86-87)

Because of the consistency of President Frangie and the resistance of the Lebanese people, Al Ahdab decided on May 21, 1976, to terminate his coup. He declared his withdrawal from all military activities and his desire to shift himself to politics.

“The Arabian Army of Lebanon” moved his troops to Kobbeh and surrounded Bahjat Ghanem’s military base, Youssef Hleil’s military base and a police headquarters. Some soldiers and air personals from the military bases joined the attackers. Kobbeh became a battlefield.

Many  were  killed  or  injured.  The soldiers who were loyal to president Frangie retreated to the Military Leadership Center of North Lebanon. The two military bases and the police headquarters were invaded by the attackers.

When   the    news   of   the   battle   reached Zagharta, “The Zaghartawi Liberation Army- Liwaa Al Marada” moved some fighters to Kobbeh. They managed to capture four military officers, Mohammad Youssef Kayyal, Colonel Yassine Souaid, Major Rafic Al Hasan and Major Hasan Tout. They took them to presidential palace in Ehden with another officer, Major Jamil Nassif. The Ehdenian fighters contacted the MP and minister, Tony Soulaiman Frangie, who order them to treat the captured men with honor and dignity. Soon after, he rushed from Baabda to Ehden in order to personally guarantee the safe release of the detained leaders.

On July 5, 1976 more than ten thousand men invaded Chekka. They killed forty three civilians and kidnapped forty six others. The  Zagharta's fighters joined their colleagues from Becharre, Batroun, Beirut, Kfar Abida and other Lebanese villages and towns to free Chekka from the offenders.

Samir Kassir describes Chekka’s massacre as a large military operation which was disturbed by dangerous violations and mass killings on which an Islamic group from Tripoli “Jund Allah” was responsible.

Kassir added: The he next day, the Lebanese fighters launched an attack and freed Chekka, led by some Lebanese army’s officers such as Brigader General Victor Khoury, who will be the next Lebanese army’s leader (قصير، سمير، 2007، ص 224).

We should proudly mention that numerous Ehdenian women were seen in battlefields, defending their country and virtues of freedom, honor and sovereignty. Some of the women who sacrificed their lives for the glory of Lebanon were, Nadira Tannous Frangie, Tamam Gergi Badwi, Hasna Boutros Bechara, Hasna Gerges Frangie, Hamideh Al Khoury Saadeh, Sa’ideh Al Zaatini, Miray Al Badwi Ne’meh, Nadia Al Ghazal and Barbara Ishac.

 

 

The End

 

Non Arabic References

 

Bandis, Dominique (1979): La Passion des Chretiens du Liban, Edition France Empire, Paris.

Douaihi, Jamil and Rouba Douaihi (2007): Estephan Douaihy from the Heights of Ehden to the Heights of Sanctity, The Association of Zgharta (Youssef Bey Karam Batal Lebnan) Sydney.

Green, Peter (1991): Alexander of Macedon 356-323 BC. University of California Press.

Jalabert, Henry (1978): Un Montagnard Contre le Pouvoir, Dar Al Mashrek, Beirut.

New Century Cyclopedia of Names (1954), V2, Appelton-Century-Crofts Inc.,New York.

Tournebize, Fr. Francois (1910): Histoire Politique et Religieuse de l’Armenie depuis les Origines des Armenians jusqu’a la Mort de leur dernier Roi (L’an 1393) , V. 1, A. Picard, Paris.

 

جميع الحقوق محفوظة للأديب اللبناني المهجري الدكتور جميل الدويهي - لأدب مهجرب راق