1400 - 1405
The Middle East
The Middle East is sometimes referred to as the sandbox of the world and not just for the vast multitudes of sand that exist there. It is also a mess of contradiction where earthly desires are often at odds with faith. While it pains me to bring up Dickens, he wrote something that could readily be adapted to this situation (even if it was more regarding Paris): The Middle East was born of two loves, the earthly love of thyself, even to the contempt of God, and the heavenly love of God, even to the contempt of thyself. These two loves form two allegiances and often lead to the separation and recognition of two separate regions known as the Middle East, the religious world and the materialistic world are blended and repel each other in a near constant dance. In the religious world we have the holy cities of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem and we have the two faiths of Islam, Sunni and Shiite. This influences the daily lives of the populous to a great extent rivaled perhaps only by a union between Constantinople and Rome, should such a union ever occur.
The materialistic world of the Middle East is by far more visible from the eyes of a historian. The Middle East was dominated by two powers, the Mongols to the North and the Mamluke Sulanate to the west. Both competed for control of relatively tiny and minor Arabic States, none more equal than the other, though Haasa is clearly the weakest with only the city to its name. The Mongols to the north are divided into two groups, the Timurid Empire, which was the dominant force in the region (as well as many others), and the Jalayirid Khanate, a far more established state in the region. The Jalayirids provide a buffer protecting the Middle East from the wrath of Timur, should he dare attempt an invasion. This buffer, however, is fragile. A Timurid invasion had crippled the state where rebels and pretenders rise and fall in the spread of a few years. In addition the religious face of the Middle East shows itself, a struggle is going on inside the Jalayirids between the Shiites and the Sunnis.
The shiites used to rule the state as the Jalayirids were under the Il Khanate, but later when the state began to crumble and the Jalayirids assumed complete autonomy the government's main faith began to shift from shiite to Sunni. In recent years nearly all the leadership of the Jalayirid Khanate is sunni whilst the capital province and several surrounding territories remain Shiite. While the Jalayirids have made very little moves towards the populous to change to the Sunni version of Islam, the populous has become more incline to produce religious fanatics in times of crisis and economic strife and so religious rebels are prevalent, in a particularly embarassing turn of events the Jalayirid capital was captured by religious fanatics demanding a return to Shiite Islam, this failed and the Jalayirid Khan was forced to bring the full force of his army among the populous of his own capital to restore order. Sunni Islam is not without its supporters as many territories to the west follow the faith leading the state into a difficult position.
Regarding the west things are not so quiet. The Mameluke Sultanate was one of the most powerful states that was Arabic in origin. The Mamelukes, however, claimed to be the true defenders of the Islamic Faith. In 1403 the Mamelukes went to war with the state of Hedjaz and over the course of a year would severely cripple it and rob it of all its territories apart from Mecca itself. Medina, however, would be added the the Mameluke collection of Holy Cities. Should it receive the last one, there is little doubt that they would become a new Caliphate. Other powers in Arabia include the Sultanate of Nejd which while large controls a large number of Shiite states. Then there is the Sultanate of Yemen, a powerful force that that rules a group of islands off to the south and east of the Middle East, the only power to do so. Then there is the state of Oman, the oldest and possibly the most powerful (though not by much) state inside Arabia. While the state is technically Ibadhi state, many do not draw this distinction and refer to them as Shiites. The Middle east is indeed a tale of two allegiances, what its situation will be in another five years is anyone's guess.