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Forum Lockeddid the arabs get lucky

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    Posted: 28-May-2009 at 11:48
been reading the tory of the first arab invasions, seems they got real lucky and attacked at a time when both the byzantine and persian empires were exhusted by war and the byzantine emperor was suffering from dementia. had they atacked 10 years before or after they would not have stood a chance
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Knights Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 12:23
They did get 'lucky' in instances. Weather and environmental events, for example, sometimes worked in their favour, such as the sandstorm at Yarmuk. However, there was too much talent and brains behind the initial Arab conquests for them just to have gotten 'lucky'. Oh and I assume we are talking about the initial Muslim conquests, yes?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 12:47
yes im not doubting the ability of the muslim commanders but fighting an exhusted dispirited enemy led by a commander with dementia is not so hard, had they gone up against herculies in his prime can you honestly say they would have won
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 14:24
Rather than see it as luck, I think of it as a calculated strategy. The Arabs weren't oblivious of what went outside their lands and must have known that the aftermath of the war between Byzantium and Persia was the right time to strike. They knew they were the underdogs and they knew they couldn't take either enemy head on under normal circumstances, but circumstances weren't normal and so the Arabs wisely struck. Byzantium was not able to mount a solid defense of the Levantine and Egyptian provinces, instead they relied on naval attacks for which the Arabs had no counter at that point, but they weren't sufficient to turn the tide in any way. Yarmouk was won by the competence of the Arab commander and army, not the sand storm nor the Arabs under Byzantine command who defected. As for the Sassanids they simply weren't able to mobilize an adequate defense and as a result the Arab-Persian war was rather one-sided with few exceptions.

Further on it could be said the Arabs were "lucky" in arriving in North Africa after the great plague of the 6th century, as many of the settlements they conquered were borderline ghost towns. Byzantine authority was understandably weak after the Persian war and their defeats in Syria and Egypt. Still, any leader needs to act in accordance with the situation. The Arabs appraised the situation and found a North African viable conquest. The same could be said of Iberia, where the Arabs exploited divisions within the Visigoth rule. It can hardly detract from their achievement that they knew how to make the most of circumstances.

It goes to show that their conquests were halted when there were fewer internal weaknesses to exploit; the Berbers and Central Asian peoples offered effective resistance for quite some time, while the Franks and Byzantines ultimately stopped any further advances.
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 16:21
all you say is true but im not so sure how much forward planning was involved. it would be great to find some historical references showing things.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 16:48
Lick has little to do with it.
 
Arabs just came from a terrible civil war when they began the conquest, a war in which more soldier died and participated in than who died or participated in the first years of the conquest. Let alone the never ending tribal fued and local wars.
 
The Byzantines had been in total peace for 10 years before the conquests began as well as support from many ethnicities including the Armenians who didn't fight against the Persians.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 17:29
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Lick has little to do with it.
 
Arabs just came from a terrible civil war when they began the conquest, a war in which more soldier died and participated in than who died or participated in the first years of the conquest. Let alone the never ending tribal fued and local wars.
 
The Byzantines had been in total peace for 10 years before the conquests began as well as support from many ethnicities including the Armenians who didn't fight against the Persians.


How do you explain the Arab conquests then? If not for the aforementioned reasons, what made it possible for a previously obscure people on the fringe of the civilized world to defeat two of the world's greatest powers and completely annihilate one of them? Were one to follow your reasoning; that the empires had more than enough time to recover and the Arabs were the ones weakened by war, that would make them superhuman, and a development like this needs clear, believable causes. A military explanation alone does not suffice because the Arabs had nothing the Romans or Persians didn't have in terms of numbers, equipment or organization, the only possible exception being higher morale.

I don't know enough about the Ridda wars to contradict or believe your claim about their demographic impact, nor do I have enough knowledge about the economics of the time to say anything about how long the Roman and Persian empires would need to recover from their war, but the consensus among scholars at least is that both empires were still suffering the aftereffects (weakened infrastructure most importantly) by the time of the Arab invasions and were unable to administer the defence they would have under normal circumstances. This coupled with the plague and the resulting economic and demographic crisis in the mediterranean in the 6th century enabled the Arabs, highly motivated by Islam and traditional warrior ideals, to advance as far as they did. Source is Hugh Kennedy's book "The Great Arab Conquests".
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 18:30

It was war, Byzantines+Persians lost more than they could afford, Arabs poured in after the conquest (Arabs armies reached the 100k mark after the conquest ended and by this time neither the Persians nor Byzantines could muster even half that number).

Arabs had several setbacks early in the conquests yet they continued till victory was achieved. Their conduct towards the conquered peoples was far better than their own nationals which was a reason why when Arab civil wars kicked in Byzantines failed to get any kind of support from the Christian population of the Levant even from greeks.
 
Plus the Arab phenomenon didn't come out of the blue. Many prior to them the Gauls distroyed Rome then the Germanic tribes (during the republic). Even after the empire it was Germanic tribal differences that saved the Romans and gave them victory not the legions. after the Arabs Khazars reach Iraq during the Ummayyad era and nearly ended them. Everybody of course know about the Mongols and the Seljuqs in decades went from Bukhara to Constantinople.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 21:54
im sorry but i have to disagree with your opinion, you cannot compare the arabs to the mongols. the mongols had numbers tactics and weapons that far outclassed there oponents. they arabs were inferior in all these areas to the persians and byzantines. as for the seljuqs one could also argue that they were also luckly in the time of their attack on the byzantines. had they come 50 years before when basil was emperor or 10 years later with an emperor like alexius it is almost certain they would have lost
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-May-2009 at 22:04
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

It was war, Byzantines+Persians lost more than they could afford, Arabs poured in after the conquest (Arabs armies reached the 100k mark after the conquest ended and by this time neither the Persians nor Byzantines could muster even half that number).

Arabs had several setbacks early in the conquests yet they continued till victory was achieved. Their conduct towards the conquered peoples was far better than their own nationals which was a reason why when Arab civil wars kicked in Byzantines failed to get any kind of support from the Christian population of the Levant even from greeks.


Yes, we are on the same page then. I forgot to mention the popular resentment towards the Byzantines in the conquered areas, only the elite supported the Byzantines. The Arab numbers are news to me though.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 09:20
Hello to you all
 
In the campaign of Yamamah during the Riddah wars, up to 70k (35k from Rabiah tribes alone) soldiers participated from both sides. Battles were brutal and many people died. In one battle 70 of the Qurra (prophet companions who were designated to memorise the Quran) died and nearly 5000 others died as well and this is from the Muslim side. Entire tribes perished during these wars and could not joint the conquest because there were no men to send. This was one battle in one theater.
 
When the conquest began they were only skirmeshes for two years because many tribes simply refused to go to war any more (like most of the tribes of central and western Arabia). Only Yemeni tribes and tribes residing in the north fought initially and it took a great deal of time to convince them. Omar was on his way to lead the campaign when tribes agreed to go.
 
As for the mongols, their tactics didn't outclass anybody nor their weapons. Tacticts don't outclass, it is the discipline and good command that make the difference. Most of their opponents had the same weapons, the same tacticts yet none of the commanders, little loyalty and the result they lost. If you read the conquests well you will see how good the commanders were and how disciplined the soldiers were. They fought to death, lived on the bare minimum and most importantly, they were committed to the cause not the plunder. Even if defeat came they returned both for revenge and the cause.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 10:25
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

When the conquest began they were only skirmeshes for two years because many tribes simply refused to go to war any more (like most of the tribes of central and western Arabia). Only Yemeni tribes and tribes residing in the north fought initially and it took a great deal of time to convince them. Omar was on his way to lead the campaign when tribes agreed to go.


From what I have gathered, the early conquests were dominated by the sedentary tribes of the Hejaz (and Yemen?) in the command and infantry, while the cavalry was comprised of self-reliant Bedouin auxiliaries. The Arabs of the eastern coast of the peninsula seem to have been largely isolated from these events, their first contribution to the conquests being naval logistics during the invasion of Fars.
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 11:46
im sorry but with regard to the mongols they were organised into armies 1 million strong with the composite bow which was the preety much the medevil form of having a machine gun. none of there ememies possed this in large numbers in europe
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 11:49
Originally posted by hiddenhistory hiddenhistory wrote:

im sorry but with regard to the mongols they were organised into armies 1 million strong with the composite bow which was the preety much the medevil form of having a machine gun.


It's funny how a single sentence can deprive someone of all credibility. Ermm

In any case this thread isn't the place to discuss Mongol armies.


Edited by Reginmund - 29-May-2009 at 11:51
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 12:03

dont be down my friend, i have never claimed to know everything about everything and came here to improve my knowledge of history not to show off. if you have have knowledge that i dont possess then plewase share with me. ego is the enemy of truth and im happy not to have one. best regards to you you brother

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jonathan4290 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 18:00
I think the Arabs just took the opportunity given to them and struck at the right time.
 
And there was no sandstorm at Yarmuk. David Chandler is primarily guilty of spreading this myth after earlier Christian historians used it to explain their loss.
 
However! I've been reading through Akram's Sword of Allah and something's fishy about it . . .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 00:17
yes they struck at the right time but how many armies have been lucky enough to have their opponents led by an old man suffering from dementia. the confusion and effect on morale this must have caused the byzantines should not be overlooked. the byzantines and the romans before them had 500 years of dealing with arab raiders and had never had any trouble in seeing them off. the difference this time was an ehusted empire led by a dementia sufferer
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sun Tzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 04:09
Another element in which I would like to add would be religion, at the time Islam was young religion that was able to stoke fire into the hearts all its adherents whom would give their life for it. Similar to the first Christians who would publicly profess their religion even though they would be fed to Lions at everyone's excitement. Religion alone wouldn't have won the war that was being waged there at the time but it probably inspired many of the tribes to settle most of their differences and join the cause. It was somewhat similar to the Crusades as when the Crusaders landed in the Holy Land, there was not much resitance until Saladin (a very competent commander). The Byantines did not have very competent commanders plus Christianity was somewhat old, so there wasn't as much vigor in the hearts of the men fighting for the Byzantines. Not only Religion but some people in the region did not detest the Arab invaders because they were almost seen as liberators.

So basically the Byzantine empire at the time was probably right after her zenith and was beginning to decline anyways despite the demented ruler and loss of popular support, especally at Manzikert 1071 I think. which hastened the demise of the Empire which would linger on for another rougly 400 yrs; only to be put out of her misery by Mehmed II.

As for Persia, my history on them is somewhat weak in this area of time, so I would have to agree with everoyne else that they were just weakened by war.

So were the Arabs lucky, I would say so they were there at the right time and moment and they had a new religion that inspired the Arabs conquer the Middle-East and spread there religion.

Edited by Sun Tzu - 30-May-2009 at 04:10
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-May-2009 at 13:48
Originally posted by Jonathan4290 Jonathan4290 wrote:

I think the Arabs just took the opportunity given to them and struck at the right time.
 
And there was no sandstorm at Yarmuk. David Chandler is primarily guilty of spreading this myth after earlier Christian historians used it to explain their loss.
 
However! I've been reading through Akram's Sword of Allah and something's fishy about it . . .
I personally think Akrams Sword of Allah is one of the better works, for the simple reason that Akram is not a historian, he was an army officer (a general in fact). He understands strategy and tactics and gives far bettre explanations than others would for certain things.
 
 
The mid east is a terrain where manoever not numbers dominate, the Roman learnt that at Carrahe,. the israelis have been proving that for 40 years. The Arab armies were able to out manoever the Byzantines and Persians in battle time and time again.
 
In the case of the Persians; well they were at the strategic disadvantage that their capital was exposed; so they had to expend a lot of resources just to defend that. While this had also been the case vis a via the Romans for 700 years, the new threat came from the south, an are which had been weakly defended before and did not have the defensive infrastructure they had in the north and the west to fall back to. In addition, whole field armys were annahilated at   Walaja  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Walaja at Hira and Al-Quddisiyya. That pretty much ended the Persians ability to defend the rest of their empire.
 
The Romans had the ability to withraw, and save their army.
The Germans also take vacations in Paris; especially during the periods they call "blitzkrieg".
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-May-2009 at 04:08
Aye, I agree that Akram's "Sword of Allah" is a pretty good source on the issue. Its not just because he was a military officer though, John Baggot Glubb was also a military officer, and his book "The Great Arab Conquests" isn't anywhere near as good or well reseached.

It's also true that there was no sandstorm at Yarmouk. Not even Gibbon reports one.
Originally posted by hiddenhistory hiddenhistory wrote:

byzantine emperor was suffering from dementia

Quote been lucky enough to have their opponents led by an old man suffering from dementia. the confusion and effect on morale this must have caused the byzantines should not be overlooked

Originally posted by Sun Tzu Sun Tzu wrote:

Byantines did not have very competent commanders

What?? I have never before heard that Heraclius had dementia. Heraclius's campaign was both brilliant and wise. He did everything a strategic commander could possible do to ensure victory for his troops. He ammassed well supplied, superior, forces to confront an inferior foe. He had numerical and equipment superiority, and he was able to dictate where and when to fight important battles. Ajnadeen and Yarmouk are both examples of this. He used sea routes to the Roman's best advantage, had large number of Arab auxileries, and the manuevering prior to Yarmouk was brillant. He completely out positioned the Muslim army and forced them to fall back without a battle.

The Romans only did one thing wrong; they lost all the important battles. They could not beat the muslim army in combat despite all the strategic advantages they had. They lost duels before battles, and lost actions during them. They could not bribe or subvert, and their people kept crossing over to the Arabs (such as George before Yarmouk, or Jonah the Lover at Damascus).

The Persians, while they did not have the genious of Heraclius, were certainly not incompentant either. They raised great armies after armies, all vastly superior to the muslim army, and they kept getting beaten by an numerically and technologically inferior foe. If anything the persians forght harder than the Romans (they certainly gain that reputation) despite magnificent manuevers by the Muslims like Khalid's pincers at Muzayyah, Saniy and Zumeil
Originally posted by Reg Reg wrote:

Rather than see it as luck, I think of it as a calculated strategy. The Arabs weren't oblivious of what went outside their lands and must have known that the aftermath of the war between Byzantium and Persia was the right time to strike. They knew they were the underdogs and they knew they couldn't take either enemy head on under normal circumstances, but circumstances weren't normal and so the Arabs wisely struck. Byzantium was not able to mount a solid defense of the Levantine and Egyptian provinces, instead they relied on naval attacks for which the Arabs had no counter at that point, but they weren't sufficient to turn the tide in any way. Yarmouk was won by the competence of the Arab commander and army, not the sand storm nor the Arabs under Byzantine command who defected. As for the Sassanids they simply weren't able to mobilize an adequate defense and as a result the Arab-Persian war was rather one-sided with few exceptions.

Nice theory but it doesn't add up. Despite the previous Roman-Persian war both empires were still able to use their vast depth to their advantage. The war may have contributed to the Empires not being able to raise great armies past the 2 Roman ones or 4 persian ones that confronted the initial invasion, but considering that the resources they did raise were so much larger than the Muslim forces we can't blame the previous war for their defeat. The Empires should have gained victory with what they had, even if they couldn't raise anything past what they had because of war weiryness.

Also, there was no calculated strategy involved when planning the invasion. Far from striking at Persia and Rome at the opportune time, they struck accidentally. The war with persia, for example, really started when the Lakhmid dynasty was annexed by Persia in 602 - before the Roman-Persian war. Many former Lakhmids (such as the Bani Bakr) refused to accept defeat, and forght persia continously from that period of time. When the Bani Bakr converted to Islam, the muslim state inherited this pre-islamic war. The first major invasion of Iraq by Khalid bin al Walid only occured because a chief of the Bani Bakr, Muthanna bin Harith, went to Khalif Abu Bakr (raa), told him of the huge success the Bani Bakr were having, and asked for more troops and help.
The Bani Bakr were fighting the persians all through the Roman-Persian war, all through the Persians defeat, and all through the immediate aftermath, but they only started acheiving successes after their conversion to Islam & the death of the prophet (saw). In the words of Muthanna bin Harith himself;
"In the Jahilliya [before Islam] 100 persians could defeat 1000 Arabs, now [after Islam] 100 arabs can defeat 1000 persians"
Khalid's army was sent to Iraq to assist Muthanna, in fact, Khalid had just finished campaigning in the Ridda wars and the majority of his army left and went home instead of proceeding directly into Iraq.

This should be sufficient in showing you that there was no calculated strategy.
Quote Were one to follow your reasoning; that the empires had more than enough time to recover and the Arabs were the ones weakened by war, that would make them superhuman, and a development like this needs clear, believable causes.

I don't think there is any point in even pretending that this war can be interpreted from a secular persepective, and I don't think there is anything to gain in trying. Not just this war but this whole period - starting from the Eithiopian defeat at Makka - is rigged in favour of Islam. For example George Ostogorsky in the history of the Byzantine State said on the issue;
"What ensued is well known and documented but remains inexplicable: 'one of the most profoundly unintelligible series of events in history', in the words of a distinguished British historian, Fergus Miller"
The obvious answer, even if non-muslims find it distasteful, is that if you wish to find clear proof that God favoured the Sahaba it is plain for all to see in the history of this war, and the period.

Edited by Omar al Hashim - 31-May-2009 at 04:13
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