Bedouin Free State
|Others:||Aramaic, Armenian, Chechen, Circassian, Sanjaki, Laz|
|Emir (أمير):||Mahmud Abdullah Al-Rashid|
|Population:||628,578 Bedouins (بدويون)|
|Independence:||from Ottoman Empire|
|Currency:||1 dirham (₯)=100 fils (فلس)|
Bedouin Free State is a country in the Middle East. It is also informally called Shammar after the largest and most important kingdom in the state.
The Bedouin Free State frequently functions more like a loose federation or alliance of sheikhdoms than as a unified nation. Divided into numerous local authorities with a very high degree of autonomy, the highest political authority in the Free State is the Parliament of Sheikhs which meets in the capital, Ḥā’il. There is no chief executive; the Parliament itself is the highest authority, and representatives of every town, sheikhdom and nomad tribe arrange themselves into committees, each with a head speaker. The speaker of each committee serves as the equivalent of a chief executive when it comes to issues in the purview of their committee (Defense/War, Trade, Environment, Education, etc.), although they can only act with the assent of their committee — and in issues of national importance a committee can only act with the assent of the entire Parliament.
Although Jabal Al-Shammar, dominated by the al-Rashid family, is the most prominent of the sheikhdoms as well as the largest one, it largely stays out of the politics of the other kingdoms. However, the way Shammar dominates the BFS's foreign and national policy have earned the suspicion of the other sheikhdoms.
Each local authority has a wide range of powers to legislate and enforce its own local rules. There are some national guidelines laid down by the Parliament, but in general local laws and degree of enforcement can vary widely between sheikhdoms. Traveler be warned. While periodic rises in tension may sour the relationships between neighboring authorities, and bickering and even some minor bloodshed is tolerated, any all-out intertribal warfare would have the rest of the Free State step in to enforce peace.
- Jabal Shammar, led by the al-Rashidi.
- Al-Jawf, led by the Sulaiman or Anizah
- Taima, led by the Hutaim.
Bedouin Free State culture is highly individualistic, or at least tribalistic. Any authority higher than the local is not to be trusted, and therefore there is no government structure over the Parliament of Sheikhs. While the internal culture of any local authority can vary from intensely traditional to completely untraditional, or very religious to openly secular, a culture of "live and let live" informs the relationships between the various local authorities. Although it may be hard emotionally, anyone unsatisfied with their environment has the right to move to the next nomadic tribal range, oasis town, or sheikhdom down the road.
Almost all of the country speaks Arabic. The Ottoman Turks resettled many thousands of Slavic Muslims and speakers of Caucasian languages whose ancestors were enslaved by the Turks and brought to Anatolia. Surnames like al-Dalmatiya, Al-Hrvati, Al-Daghestani, Al-Shishani, and Al-Sharkas are quite common here. It is doubtful that many descendants of Muslim refugees, if at all, still speak their ancestral languages. The only visible, non-Arab minorities in the country are Armenians and Assyrians.
The Bedouin Free State is mostly Sunni Muslim. The Bedouin are looked down upon by the settled folk of the Levant as a superstitious people. More dour, austere Sunnis consider the Bedouin to hold pre-islamic beliefs that are antithetical to the message of Mohammad. Wahhabi missionaries have operated in the country since Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab started this puritanical, violent movement in the 18th Century. There are both a tiny Ismaili and Twelver Shia community in the cities, although it's possible that some nomads are Shia as well.
About 35% of the population is Christian followed by about 3,140-52,040 Druze and a few Mandaean refugees who fled Iraaq and are awaiting resettlement anywhere else by the League of Nations. The Christians are almost entirely Arab-speaking members of the Eastern Orthodox Church although a handful of Syriac Orthodox and ethnic-Armenian members of the Oriental Orthodox Church can be found in the major towns, as can be Assyrians. All Christian Bedouin are Eastern Orthodox, but their urban-dwelling coreligionists greatly outnumber them. Some Scottish missionaries attempted to proselytize the nomadic Bedouin in the late 19th Century, but the mission was deemed a failure. Only a couple of low hundred people in the B.F.S are Protestant.
The secretive Druze, who have their own autonomous emirate, are not clear about their numbers. They could either be as low as.5% of the population (3,140) or up to 8.28% (52,040). The state does not keep statistics on the religious proclivities of its citizens. Neither the Christians nor Druze report any systematic discrimination, but sectarian vandalism or physical attacks by Wahhabis are not unheard of. Religions not considered "People of the Book" (′Ahl al-Kitāb/أهل الكتاب) are not allowed to operate in this country.