Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Yarmouk (636)

and that's the way it was

This is another anniversary that regular readers will already know something about.

If you were inclined to rank the most important battles in world history, the Battle of Yarmouk should be pretty high on your list. It crushed, over the course of one 6-day battle, almost the entirety of the Byzantine Empire’s military presence south of the Taurus Mountains, leaving Syria and the rest of the Levant (with Egypt waiting beyond that, and then the rest of North Africa) open to Arab conquest. Along with the Battle of Qadisiyah, which was fought in November of the same year and essentially destroyed the Sasanian Persian Empire, Yarmouk established the Arab/Islamic caliphate and thus helped change the course of history in a major way.

According to the historical sources, Yarmouk’s result can be attributed to two factors that worked against the Byzantines despite their larger numbers and better equipment: intelligence (the military…

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