|Local Leadership Title:||Emir|
|Current leader:||Kemal Shervanis|
|Local Religion:||Temple of Zartosht|
Azara, officially the Emirate of Azara, is a small kingdom located in southwestern Eura and centered around the ancient city of Azarkhak, from which the Emirate derives its name. The country is located in an area of hot deserts where, in times past, it was once under the control of Babkha. The rocky outcroppings in the desert are rich with salt formed by ancient seas, and it is near here that the Babkhans had their notorious salt mines. The region is also infested with the giant sandworms that inhabit most of Eura's vast deserts. Azara relies primarily on the export of salt and some limited oil extraction as its main economic source; with the harsh desert offering little else.
Azara takes its name from the ancient city of Azarkhak. The city, in turn, is a rendering of old Babkhi meaning "fire sands" (azar = fire + khak = sand). The term is a reference to the burning sands of the sun-scorched deserts of Zsharra. The name Azara, therefore, translates as "land of fire".
Azara is located in the southwestern quarter of Eura in an area of extensive dry and hot deserts. It is bounded in the north by the Suqutra Gulf, in the east by the Badbakhti Desert and along the Badbakhti Sea, and in the south by the deserts of Zsharra. The Badbakhti Desert originally isolated the majority of Babkhan civilization along the eastern coast of Eura, likewise keeping Azara and the west isolated for many centuries. Much of the area around Azara is harsh desert climate, with only a few oasis's offering some relief. The shores of the Badbakhti Sea are more inviting, even though the sea is saline, making it unusable for irrigation. Several small tributary rivers and the immediate ocean coast are more amenable and where the majority of the population thrive.
Azara was originally settled by local tribes known as the Arkaniyah, who were hostile to Babkahn suzerainty. For the most part the Arkani were disorganized nomads roaming the deserts, and for centuries other countries, such as Helios and Baracao maintained outposts in the region but little permanent control. The Arkani reached the height of power around 1600 ASC, often raiding into Babkhan territory. This led to an invasion by the Babkhans spearheaded by the army of Baatharz, Babkha's largest and most autonomous Emirate. The Baatharzi were vastly superior in both organization and firepower, and quickly subdued the Arkani people, wiping out most of the population in a series of violent clashes. When the dust settled the Baatharzi instituted a rigorous program of colonization wherein many people from Baatharz migrated south to the new lands. The new region became known as the Emirate of Zsharra and was ruled by a branch of the Shervanis Dynasty, which also ruled Baatharz.
The Shervanis Dynasty eventually split into two factions; the Baatharzi Shervanids and the Zsharran Shervanids. The split formed as a result of the succession of Emir Jamal Shervanis, whose two sons, Ali ad-Din and Suleiman were each granted one of their father's domains. Ali ad-Din was granted Baatharz, while Suleiman inherited Zsharra. Jamal had dictated that the two remain united, but the brothers each had differing designs for their respective fiefs. Ali was a liberal Baatharzi who, like many northerners, sought greater reforms within the conservative government. But Suleiman, who had been raised in the south and therefore influenced by the monarchy, was much more conservative. The two quickly found themselves at political odds, eventually leading to the two factions splitting and forming their own houses. Suleiman aligned himself with the monarchists and fostered the strict program of criminal justice that saw the expansion of Babkha's infamous salt mines. He also pushed the frontiers of Zsharra all the way to the southern coasts of Eura. For the next several centuries the descendants of Suleiman trained some of Babkha's most fearsome soldiers and ruled with an iron fist over the rolling deserts of the south.
After the fall of Babkha the country fell into anarchy and local Sheikhs assumed control over various tribes and lands. Kemal Shervanis, a descendant of Suleiman, eventually wrested control of Azarkhak away from vagabond tribes, establishing the Emirate of Azara. Managing to bring several local sheikhdoms under his control, Kemal extended the Emirate's boundaries to the Suqutra Gulf and around the northern shores of the Badbakhti Sea. This gave the Emirate much-needed access to salt deposits and anchorage for export by sea.
Interval of time
Azarkhak was shelled by the IRS Medusa during Kaiser Dominus' odyssey of a safari around the Euran continent during 1643. The incident apparently arose from a misunderstanding whilst his fleet of gravrigs and airships were traversing the Badbakhti Desert in a futile hunt for the infamous sandworms of Babkhan mythology. The Emir eventually paid the Kaiser a generous campaign contribution to make him go away and take his deranged combination of tourist jaunt, state tour and exercise in sand bombing elsewhere - as the unfortunate inhabitants of the Raspur Khanate were about to discover.
Azara is an Emirate ruled by an Emir, essentially following the same principles of an absolute monarchy. Tribal heritage is an important factor and many tribal Sheikhs pay homage to the Emir in Azarkhak. The Sheikhs sit in council known as the Majlis which in turn advises and guides the Emir on ruling the state. The Sheikhs are granted the freedom to rule their tribes as they see fit, provided they do not violate any of the laws laid down by the Emir.
Several hundred tribes, some of which are not even documented, are subjects of the Emir and ruled by local Sheikhs. Among these tribes some of the most notable are the R'kaniyah, the Miani, the Badbakhti, and the Shervanids.
Azara is not currently engaged in any diplomatic relations with other nations and is not yet recognised as a member of the Micronational Cartography Society.
While nominally part of the Kingdom of Babkha for many centuries, Azara was settled by Baatharzi, who spoke in the North Euran (Arabic) dialect versus traditional Babkhi (Farsi). Thus the area became an amalgamation of both traditions, though Babkhi eventually came to dominate the language and customs that persist to this day. Like the Babkhans before them, the Azarans worship Zartosht.
The harsh Deseret climate has severely limited the ability to develop large scale agriculture. As such, the Azarans rely heavily on seafood brought in by fishermen along the coast. Some fruits and nuts are grown in plantations, such as dates, grapes and olives. Stuffed grape leaves (Mishi waraq inab) is a local favorite, as is tabouli salad. Due to the availability of salt, many foods are often salted for preservation; especially fish.
The ancient Babkhan salt mines were taken over by the Azarans and enlarged to a greater scale more amenable to exportation. Several new veins were explored and tapped as sources of additional revenue. For instance, the pink salt mined from the shores of the Badbakhti Sea has become a major export commodity, being sold as a health supplement in Shireroth and other countries. Although prisoners are still used to assist with mining, many newer mines are now contracted to private firms.
Tourism has also served to act as a new means of economic revenue. People from across Micras have come to enjoy the new spas appearing on the beaches, or to view the majestic sandworms in their native habitat. In addition a small amount of oil has also been tapped as a means of providing additional economic stimulus when other markets are not faring as productively.
A national survey has estimated the population to be somewhere in the range of 2,179,812; although this number could not be verified due to inaccessible nomadic groups in the deep deserts.
The Azaran military consists primarily of camel riders and foot soldiers. A small arsenal of mechanized vehicles remains at the Emir's command as part of his personal consort, but much of this dates back to the time of Babkha. While the ancient Babkhans were rumored to ride and command the giant sandworms in battle, the Azarans have lost this knowledge, as the beasts remain at large in the deep deserts.