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Whilst Lebanon and Syria were set up as republics under French protection in the 1920s from the rubble of the Ottoman Empire, it is well worth noting that both were essentially aristocratic republics from the start, dominated by the elites that were the same as that of the Ottoman period and even before then. Syria was so before the Baathist revolution of 1963. Lebanon is undoubtedly one of the more democratic Middle Eastern republics, yet it is also a
de facto sectarian and aristocratic republic, dominated today. Pre-Islamic Arabian dynasties included the Lakhmids, Ghassanids, Kindah and Himyar. It is not entirely implausible that their rulers left descendants to this day, and they are most likely to be found among the Lebanese aristocracy. This also opens up the issue of whether the hereditary leaders of certain religious groups- the Nizari Ismailis, certain religious brotherhoods in Sudan and Senegal, the Yazidis and Alawites- can be considered royalty or aristocracy. For most part they can. The Aga Khans received that title from the Qajar Shahs of Persia, after the Ismailis ended their long period of concealment, and are the legitimate heirs of the Fatimid Dynasty. Mount Lebanon enjoyed a modicum of self-rule under Maan and then Chehab princes until the mid-19th century (the same time other autonomous local rulers were dispossessed by the Ottomans, in Kurdistan), the latter of which became Maronite Catholics by the end of the 18th century. The Chehab princely house is one of the most prominent Christian aristocratic families in Lebanon, including the much-revered Fouad Chehab, President of Lebanon from 1964 to 1970. The Lebanese presidency has always been held by a Maronite, and more often by a member of the aristocracy. Christian aristocratic families include the Chehab, Abillama, Gemayel and Chamoun. The Druze, as a tight-knit syncretic religion, are led by hereditary aristocracy. The Arslan family hold princely rank and are one of Lebanon's most prominent families. They also claim descent from ancient Christian Lakhmid royalty. Other prominent Druze aristocratic families are the Muzhirs and Jumblatts, the latter among the most powerful families in Lebanon. The Hamdan and Atrash families are the hereditary Druze leaders in Syria, often playing a prominent historical role. Even in Israel, one finds the Tarif, Khayr and Muaddi families who play a similar role.