THE LEBANESE PHILHELLENES
The attempt at military cooperation between the Greek revolutionaries and the emirs of Lebanon (led by Bashir Shihab II) reminds us that philhellenism and liberalism were not exclusively European phenomena.
Emir Bashir’s family had converted to the Maronite Catholic Church, and he was born a Christian. When the Greek War of Independence broke out, he sent a merchant called Hadjistathis Rezis to convey to Alexandros Ypsilantis, the supreme leader of the Filiki Eteria, the liberal and revolutionary feelings of the emirs of Lebanon and their desire to shake off the Ottoman yoke. Rezis repeated these proposals to the Greek government in the autumn of 1824. The Greeks would send warships to support the Lebanese, while Bashir would assist the Greeks with thousands of soldiers and horses.
The negotiations took place during the siege of Messolonghi and failed to bring about the desired cooperation. Ottoman success in Greece precluded the dispatch of any forces to Lebanon.
However, the enthusiasm of the Lebanese for the Greek cause was evident. The operation’s ultimate failure does not diminish the significance of the Lebanese intention to contribute to the common struggle against Ottoman oppression and totalitarianism.