Workers' Republic of Mevraq
גומהורית על-מברק על-איומלי (Teimani)
Motto: "אשת על-הורייה"
"Long Live Freedom"
|Recognised national languages||Yiddish |
|Ethnic groups |
|82% Yehudim |
4% South Asians
3% Middle Eastern
|84% Yehudah |
|Government||Unitary semi-presidential syndicalist republic|
• General Secretary
• Per capita
|Time zone||UTC +11 to +12, -12, -11|
(WIP. Location. Neighbours. Climate. Flora and fauna. Highest and lowest points. Administrative reagions. Cities.)
Mevraq is located in south-eastern Marenesia, east of Marenesia Major. The country is divided into six administrative zones: Kindah, New Sinai, Orim, Qan Habez, Shahara, and South Soroya. Mevraq sits right along the Nusantaran-Mevraqi faultline between the Major Marenesian Plate and the Minor Marenesian Plate.
Mevraq's largest city (and capital) is Minafi Aleasifa, located in Shahara.
Relatively little is known about the first humans to inhabit what would become Mevraq. That there were humans is not contested, given that archaeological remains predating the arrival of the Yehudan pirates have been uncovered on Qan Habez, Shahara and both Greater and Lesser Kindah. However, none of the records of the pirates indicate that they encountered any humans. For a time, the Soroyan government propagated the theory that the early Mevraqis slaughtered the natives and covered it up. However, more recent analysis suggests that a major earthquake struck the archipelago in the mid-1400s, triggering volcanic eruptions on both Shahara and Qan Habez. The current leading theory is that these events so devastated the archipelago that the survivors either died out or (more likely) fled to the relative safety of Soroya.
Mevraq was first discovered by Yehudan pirates based out of Azania in 1489. The country's name is derived from the Yehudan for "From Lightning" as the first sighting was during a thunderstorm. At first, Mevraq was used as a safe anchorage, where ships could repair, find fresh water and food, all unknown to the navies of other powers. But as the archipelago was explored, the true value of Mevraq was revealed: an uninhabited land, suitable for human settlement. In 1498, the pirates began to bring their families here, escaping the rather tenuous life of a pirate in an inhabited land, and founding the first cities: Minafi Aleasifa ("Port in the Storm"), Al-Sakhra ("The Rock"), and Sayf Maksur ("Broken Scimitar").
For a few years, these cities were effectively independent. Minafi Aleasifa (which dominated the largest island of Shahara) and Sayf Maksur (which dominated the northernmost island of Qan Habez) were briefly rivals for dominance. However, as the pirates moved their operations to Mevraq, the secret got out. In 1512, a ship out of Musha arrived at Al-Sakhra. While posing as traders, their captain was paid by the Sultan of Musha. The fear that the archipelago might be threatened pushed the leading pirate captains to unite. In 1514, they held a summit at Al-Sakhra, writing a charter that would unite the Mevraqi settlements into a confederacy. Al-Sakhra became the capital (as a compromise between Minafi Aleasifa and Sayf Maksur). This is generally considered the birth of the nation of Mevraq.
Age of Piracy
For centuries, Mevraq was defined by piracy. While most of its citizens made a living at more conventional trades, the pirates held the power. Mevraqi ships raided throughout Marenesia and Azania. This piracy played a major role in Mevraq's rapid growth. A young man could sign on with a pirate ship for a single voyage and make enough to establish a household and family. This inevitably led to a high birthrate, and the rapid settlement of the archipelago. Immigration also played a major role. Jews who heard of a safe haven for their people, even if it was ruled by pirates, wanted to go there. In some cases, entire families took passage on board pirate ships, leading to many tales of female pirates. For that matter, it wasn't unknown for a young man who wished to sign on with a pirate crew to bring his bride along.
Another source of population growth was slavery. Slaving had been part and parcel of piracy in Azania for centuries. Initially, the Mevraqi pirates mostly resold their slaves on the mainland. But as Mevraq grew, it became a good market for slaves in its own right. The greatest demand was, of course, from the mines. Few men wanted to spend their lives digging underground, so slaves were brought in. Most slaves were from Azania, with some being Marenesian.
In fact, slavery played a major role in establishing the Mevraqi legal system. Beyond the subjects addressed by the Al-Sakhra Charter, most Mevraqis had fallen back on halacha - Yehudan religious law – to govern their society and settle disputes. When slaves began to petition in court for redresses, the rabbis turned to the Talmud, and often ruled in the slaves' favor. The slaveholders resisted, but the pirates backed the rabbis (largely to give them something to focus on other than harassing prostitutes and people who worked on Shabbat). This established the precedent of using halacha in most interpersonal disputes. Slaves had rights, and were rarely enslaved for life. The small Peshatic community resented rabbinic control, and largely immigrated to Safiloa.
Ultimately, piracy could not sustain the nation forever. Unable to stop the pirates, the major powers of the Indian Ocean chose to pay protection money. By the late 1600s, the pirate captains were spending more time enforcing these agreements on renegades than they did actual piracy, acting more like a proper navy. Trade was increasingly more important than piracy, particularly with the rise of Europan influence, and the pirates were gradually displaced by merchants. Historians frequently dispute this point, but common historiography often points to the Naval Act of 1729 as the end of the Mevraqi Age of Piracy. This act reformed the Mevraqi navy along Europan lines and, for the first time, made unlicensed piracy punishable by death. A few Mevraqi pirates preferred emigration rather than compliance, settling in Safiloa.
Age of Plutocrats
By this point, the Mevraqi Confederacy was dominated by plutocrats. At first, it was merchant princes like Umar Koren (the Nasi who crafted the Naval Act) who held the reins of power. But trade was not the only source of wealth. Modern technology gradually reached Mevraq (often brought by Europan immigrants), and the nation began to industrialize. Demand for metals such as copper and nickel grew. The 1800s also saw a large influx of immigrants, mostly Yehudans, but some Azanians.
In 1859, the Mevraqi National Bank collapsed, wiping out the fortunes of many Mevraqi merchant families and ruining the qitea's value. In their place came the mining and manufacturing barons. Their reforms saved the Mevraqi economy, but also solidified the plutocratic system of government. Mevraq had long had property requirements to be able to vote, but those standards were fairly antiquated, enough that close to 40% of Mevraqis could plausibly vote. The 1860 constitution changed this, reducing the franchise to a mere 12% of the population, centralizing power in Al-Sakhra, and abolishing the old privileges of the Mevraqi guilds. The Mevraqi Republic, as the nation now styled itself, might make pretensions of democracy, but it was a thoroughly class-based society.
The latter half of the 19th century was, by most measures, the darkest in Mevraqi history. To bring in badly needed foreign currency, the Mevraqi corporate barons pushed their employees to work harder and harder for the same or even less pay. They opened new mines in the southern islands, heedless of the frigid temperatures. Even as their profits grew, most Mevraqis suffered. Some Mevraqis sought relief from the synagogue. Mevraq as a whole had been secularizing for some time, but the introduction of the Chasidic movement created a religious resurgence known as the Esh Chadashah ("New Fire"). Rabbis preached against the greed of the corporate elite and the horrific working conditions prevalent in the nation. However, this resurgence soon turned into something uglier. The New Fire movement became reactionary, blaming the nation's ills on its failure to adhere to traditional Yehudan law, and advocated the establishment of a theocratic monarchy. They gained some support from the upper class, but alienated most of the industrial working class, to say nothing of the non-Yehudan minorities.
But there was another alternative. Some of those immigrants had brought another ideology: socialism. Where the old guilds had failed, new labor unions arose. Some industrialists were willing to negotiate with labor unions, and the 1880s saw a brief flare of hope for reform. That flame died with the 1898 election of Bagouth Al-Hammoud as President. A fanatical anti-socialist, Al-Hammoud clamped down on any labor activity. He even overturned previous deals made with labor unions just because the labor unions had agreed to them. Dissenters were sent to labor camps in the far south.
Al-Hammoud also pushed for an expansion of the Mevraqi military, particularly the navy. It was largely at his behest that Mevraq became involved in several foreign conflicts, particularly the Soroyan War, which saw the annexation of South Soroya. While Mevraq performed well in that war, Al-Hammoud had unwittingly sown the seeds of his own destruction.
In 1909, workers at the Al-Asir shipyard in Minafi Aleasifa went on strike after a crane collapsed and crushed twenty-six workers. Al-Hammoud ordered the police to put down the strike. Unfortunately, a large number of the workers were veterans, and they held off the police. Even more unfortunately, the crane in question had been putting the finishing touches on the MRS Maqabi, Mevraq's first dreadnought-type battleship, which the striking workers rushed to launch. After a police barricade was destroyed by naval bombardment, Al-Hammoud ordered the navy to sink the Maqabi. The cruisers and torpedo boats stationed at Minafi Aleasifa could probably have defeated the battleship, but Al-Hammoud's propaganda had created the image of the Maqabi as invincible. Believing that they were being ordered to their deaths, the ships' crews mutinied. The Mevraqi Revolution had begun.
A revolution in Mevraq would depend on control of the seas. Al-Hammoud assembled what remained of his navy at Al-Sakhra, ready to move on Minafi Aleasifa. However, that took precious time, enough for the revolutionaries to organize themselves under the command of Admiral Nataniel Kahlon (a senior-grade lieutenant who had led the mutiny on the cruiser Emunah) and General Moshe Steinberg (the head of the shipyard workers' union and a veteran of the Soroyan War). The regime forces succeeded in badly damaging the Maqabi and sinking the Emunah, but took heavy casualties of their own. Worse, the fleet returned to discover that an uprising had broken out in Al-Sakhra in support of the revolution. The uprising had been put down, but not before they'd been able to wreck Al-Sakhra's own shipyards, crippling the regime's ability to repair its ships. Minafi Aleasifa had been the primary shipyard of Mevraq literally since its founding, and now most of the nation's naval infrastructure was in the hands of the revolutionaries.
Four months later, Admiral Kahlon oversaw the storming of Al-Sakhra. The fighting was brutal, and much of the city was destroyed. Afterwards, Al-Hammoud was executed, the capital was moved to Minafi Aleasifa, and General Steinberg became the first Premier of the Workers' Republic of Mevraq.
The first years of the Workers' Republic were unstable. The organized labor movement which had carried the revolution also provided it with its first cadre of leaders. However, they had little experience with actual governance, having been completely excluded from politics. They were soon riven by doctrinal disputes, particularly between the anarchists (led by Steinberg) and the centralists (led by Kahlon).
At first, the personal friendship between Steinberg and Kahlon kept things cool. However, after Steinberg died in 1926, he was succeeded by Yusuf Abrabanel, who proved far less amenable. His extreme positions led to Kahlon usurping the Premiership in 1931. Premier Kahlon centralized the Mevraqi state, establishing the system of Commissariats that make up the Central Committee to this day. He is generally well-regarded by historians as a would-be benevolent dictator, creating a powerful central government but not actually oppressing anyone (aside from counter-revolutionaries and the remnants of the New Fire movement). However, his successor was cut from a different cloth.
Historians have often debated what made Ari Berkane the man he was. He was 17 when the Revolution began, and volunteered for service in the Workers' Battalions, participating in the storming of Al-Sakhra. He rose through the ranks of the military, becoming an officer, and served on the General Staff during the early Kahlon years, where he drew the Premier's favor, eventually becoming Commissar for Military Affairs. But while none would question his skills as an organizer and administrator, Berkane was also ruthless and power-hungry. After succeeding Kahlon in 1944, he eliminated his chief rival, Hayim Barabod, by linking him to New Fire (a claim now believed to be false). He further rewrote the constitution to remove all checks on his own power. He created a cult of personality, and near the end of his life, he even began to attack Judaism itself.
On April 22, 1968, Ari Berkane finally succumbed to brain cancer. The head of his personal security detail, Ibrahim Kohen, presented a note to the Central Committee that named Kohen as his successor. When the Central Committee refused to accept him as the new Premier, Kohen shot them all. Kohen's regime lasted less than a month. He swiftly purged anyone in the capital who might oppose him. But all he accomplished was destroying his own government and any potential support base. The trade unions, still officially part of Mevraqi politics, had been preparing for the possibility of a succession crisis. With the government apparently in the hands of a lunatic bodyguard, they stormed the Presidium.
The 1968 Constitution was based on that of 1910, but with several alterations. In particular, it emphasized the role of the labor unions, and weakened the Premiership by making all Commissar positions elected by the people, making it much harder for one man - even the Premier - to create a clique. It is this Constitution (with a few more amendments) that remains in place today.
The 1970s saw an economic boom. Granting the unions autonomy eliminated many inefficiencies in the Mevraqi economy, and trade deals were easier than under the Berkane dictatorship. In 1976, Premier Gideon Surabi, the architect of the new constitution, stepped down, replaced by People's Commissar for Industry Alexander al-Badr. Al-Badr invested heavily in the industrial sector, seeking to make Mevraq a manufacturing powerhouse. Unfortunately, in 1981, a scandal rocked Mevraq, when photos showing al-Badr in bed with his "close friend" Zachariah Ruben were leaked to the press. The revelation that the Premier of Mevraq was not only an adulterer but a homosexual brought down the government, especially once it was learned that several other government officials - including former Premier Surabi - had been aware of al-Badr's inclinations. The Syndicalist Party collapsed into factionalism, and the 1982 elections were won by Ephraim Gold of the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Premier Gold's initial policies were aimed at "national restoration". In addition to a crackdown on homosexuality and other forms of "social degeneracy", he provided government funding to Jewish organizations, portraying it as reversing the anti-religious policies of the late Berkane years. He also poured funding into the military, shifting much of Mevraq's industry to weapons manufacturing and doubling the size of the Mevraqi People's Navy. However, the drop in income from the sale of manufactured goods forced Gold to print so much money that the qitea soon went into a freefall. Gold managed to maintain control for some time, in part through a system of bribery, but eventually the qitea was so worthless that he could no longer obtain enough foreign currency. His crackdown on "social degeneracy" had also backfired, as the Mevraqi gay rights movement organized to protect themselves. Ironically, the bloated military Gold created proved something of a haven for homosexuals. And while the Syndicalist Party schism seemed permanent, the two new parties that had emerged - the Syndicalist Workers' Party and the Syndicalist Labor Party - were both bound and determined to bring him down. Finally, the observant Jews he had courted turned on him, forming the Torah Socialist Union. When the 1997 election results came in, the Revolutionary Communist Party was in fourth place. That night, Premier Ephraim Gold committed suicide.
Under Premier Imtiyaz Yagdi and the SLP, Mevraq began to heavily draw down the military (ironically, the ships built during the Gold years were now the only ones left) and decentralized its government. Once the qitea stabilized, its low value made Mevraqi manufacturing cheap enough to attract foreign customers once again. This was just as well, as the same social issues that had destroyed Al-Badr returned. The TSU had accepted the end of government funds to religious organizations in exchange for maintaining the government stance against homosexuality. However, this ultimately proved too much. The SWP had become ardently pro-gay rights, and in 2002 withdrew from the coalition with the SLP and TSU after the passing of a law banning homosexuals from military service. Yagdi managed to hold on to power, but public opinion was turning. In 2005, the prohibition against homosexuals in the military - and, indeed, all laws against homosexuality, were struck down in the Saleh & Altair vs. Bashar case. The two plaintiffs, Major Miri Saleh and Captain Sultana Altair, famously kissed on the courthouse steps. Later that year, Saleh became a Delegate for the Union of Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers.
The gradual rise in Mevraq's economy began to attract new immigrants, further diversifying the nation. The TSU's anti-immigration stance virtually destroyed it for a time, even losing a majority of delegates in the Union of Clergy. The 2008 election brought down the SLP, and put the SWP and Premier Eli Reuben in power. The 2009 Equality Act enacted strong legal protections for gay, non-binary, and transgender people, as well as formally legalizing gay marriage. Unfortunately, an economic recession struck in 2012, bringing Reuben's tenure to an end. The SLP regained power, but by now had utterly abandoned its former anti-homosexual stance. Yulia Awadu would go down as the first female Premier in Mevraqi history, but would also go down as the first Premier impeached for corruption. In 2018, the SWP chose Miri Saleh as their candidate. She decisively won the presidential race, but a resurgent TSU and RCP denied either the SWP or SLP a majority. The two parties that had spent twenty years battling for control of Mevraq would now form a coalition.
(WIP. Government. Leadership. Military. Foreign relations.)
Mevraq is a unitary semi-presidential syndicalist republic. The head of state, the Premier, is directly elected by the populace in a ranked-choice voting system, while the head of government, the General Secretary, is elected by the General Assembly. The Commissars who head the various government ministries (known as Commissariats) are also directly elected.
The General Assembly is the unicameral legislature of Mevraq. It is organized on the basis of labor unions, meaning that Mevraqis are represented not by geography, but by profession. The General Assembly is primarily responsible for passing laws and setting economic policy for the nation. Members of the General Assembly are known as Delegates.
Mevraq is divided up into six administrative zones, each of which is further divided into districts.
The Mevraqi military is divided into three major branches: the Mevraqi Revolutionary Navy, the Mevraqi Revolutionary Marine Corps, and the Mevraqi Revolutionary Guard.
Mevraq's economy is dominated by shipbuilding, manufacturing and metallurgy, with a significant fishing sector. Mevraq's economic system is often defined as "centrally guided". The individual unions enjoy varying degrees of autonomy, but all participate in the General Assembly. Economics and politics are inextricably intertwined in Mevraq, and political favors are frequently used as currency in commercial agreements. The advent of mass media has accelerated this tendency, as unions increasingly rely on their Delegates as negotiators.
Mevraq's heavy and light manufacturing sectors together employ approximately 35.6% of the workforce, the largest after services. However, despite its rich mineral deposits and skilled workforce, Mevraqi manufacturing has suffered for many years due to overloaded infrastructure and out-of-date technology. Much of this stems from the economic mismanagement and hyperinflation of the Gold administration, which crippled Mevraq's ability to computerize its industry.
Mining and Metallurgy
Mevraq is rich in mineral ores, particularly base metals. Mevraq is a major exporter of cobalt and aluminum, and also has large reserves of iron, nickel, aluminum, and coltan. Since the 1909 Revolution, most of these exports have been in the form of refined metals, not raw ore. Mevraq formely had extensive coal deposits, but output has dropped over the 20th century. Today, virtually all Mevraqi coal is consumed by the steelmaking and energy sectors. In 1942, thorium deposits were discovered in South Soroya.
84% of Mevraqis identify as Jewish. Of those, 72% identify with the Reform movement, 12% as Conservative, and 16% as Orthodox. 19% of Mevraqi Jews either do not believe in a god or are unsure, but still continue to practice their traditions. 5% of Mevraqis do not identify with any religious belief.
While there have been small non-Jewish communities for centuries, mostly composed of ex-slaves, most non-Jewish Mevraqis are descended from those who immigrated in the 19th or 20th centuries. Salam makes up 4% of the population (overwhelmingly Sunni), Sikhism 3%, Christianity 2%, and Hinduism 1%. There are also small Phosattist and Baha'i communities.