How Napoleon Transformed the Middle East

Last spring, the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s death brought much reflection on his legacy, but little was said about his lasting impact on the Middle East. Even in the Arab world itself, the debate about his significance—which is not so different from that within Europe—has faded somewhat. But without a doubt, the three years that the French emperor spent conquering Egypt and launching attacks into Ottoman Palestine changed the region forever. Stephane Cohen writes:

Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt was marked by key events like the battle of the Pyramids, but Napoleon’s forces also battled in Jaffa and Acre, and fought and defeated superior Ottoman forces in the Galilee, in battles near Mount Tabor (near Nazareth) and on the Jordan River. Napoleon’s campaign in the Galilee in the spring of 1799 led to clear French victories, and yet, Acre continued to resist the French siege and assaults. On May 17, 1799, after the defenders had received help from the British and the eighth attack on Acre’s walls by French forces proved inconclusive, Napoleon realized he couldn’t succeed. With his army suffering from disease, Napoleon decided to lift the siege on Acre and return to Egypt with a demoralized army.

Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt and Syria are recognized as the beginning of the modern period in Middle Eastern history. . . . Napoleon’s occupation did not modernize Egyptian society, [but] created a political vacuum in Egypt. Following the French withdrawal, Mohammad Ali Pasha soon filled the vacuum and began laying the foundations for modern Egypt that later would play such an essential role in the history of the Middle East. Furthermore, it led Britain to secure dominions to protect its Indian possessions against any possible attacks by land. Catalyzed by Napoleon’s campaign, the “awakening” movement—known as the Nahda (or “renaissance”), an Arab cultural and intellectual movement—flourished in many parts of the Middle East throughout the late 19th and early 20th century, with Cairo, Istanbul, Beirut, and Tunis, as its focal points.

Read more at Dayan Center

More about: Arab World, Middle East, Napoleon Bonaparte


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security