What should be done in the Middle East? Ask the Romans

The more you travel, the more you realise the obvious, says Robert Fisk: globalisation is nothing new. To fix today’s crises, we must look at the fall of the world’s greatest empire

Ruins of a monolith in Lebanon, circa 1900: the Roman presence in what is now the Arab world was as violent as that of later empires

Ruins of a monolith in Lebanon, circa 1900: the Roman presence in what is now the Arab world was as violent as that of later empires ( Getty )

On a rare visit to London not long ago, I followed a short path I used to walk as a schoolboy: from the ruins of the old Roman wall near Tower Hill Tube station to the Merchant Navy memorial. The remains of Londinium contain the fine red “sandwich” bricks which reinforced so many Roman houses, temples and fortifications across the empire.

I studied classics for my first degree and roamed Hadrian’s Wall and the ancient villas of England long before I copied down the Latin inscriptions on the Via Appia outside Rome.

On my very first visit to the memorial, I noticed that the commemorative plaques to the 35,800 merchant seamen of Britain’s two world wars, whose bodies were lost to the sea, contained Arab Muslim names. Many came from Yemen (Arabia Felix to the Romans) – and lived in South Shields – and most worked on the great Atlantic convoys.

And it still comes as a shock to think that the last desperate words uttered by some of those trapped in the engine rooms after the first U-boat torpedoes struck their ships were uttered in Arabic and must have been directed to Allah.

When I returned to Beirut a few days later, I took coffee with friends, quite by chance, beside the ruins of the old Roman city; and I noticed, of course, those familiar red sandwich stones behind the columns of the Via Maximus of ancient Berytus. The building blocks of empire, like the straight stone-slabbed roads, stretched across thousands of miles.

MORE:

http://www.independent.co.uk

1 reply

  1. Do I need to say it again? Robert Fisk’s articles need to be read and read again in full! Unfortunately due to copyright reasons we cannot bring you the full article here, therefore please click on ‘source’ and read it there …

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: