KALIPHATE OF SHARAAZ
In ancient times, nomad tribes emerged from the South and spread across the desert lands, from the Western Erg to the borders of the Land of Three Rivers. Long before the rise of the Empire of the Inner Sea, they wandered with their herds, warred among themselves and raided their city-dwelling neighbors. With the rise of Kesh, the western tribes were forced out of their ancestral lands or enslaved. But, those of the Great Desert remained fiercely independent, defeating all attempts to subjugate them. They raided Huran and Ammar (ancient Thyrenia) and repulsed the armies of Kesh when the Priest-Kings tried to expand their rule eastward. The Imperial Legions of Tharsis marching east were defeated by the constant attacks of desert raiders, and an entire Legion commanded by Emperor Tyras was slaughtered at Karmesh. With the Empire's fall, the tribes of the Great Desert returned to raiding and warring among themselves ... The "Desert Kingdom" of Sharaaz was born three generations ago when the tribe of Shamir under the great Ha'addin-Shar subjugated the southern tribes and founded a supreme kaliphate. The Second Kaliph Malik a'Haddin, the Eagle of Sharaaz, established the desert nomads as a force to be reckoned with by invading Huran (and burning the city of Ulapur) and defeating the combined armies of the kings of Thyrenia at the Battle of Ishdar. The Third Kaliph, Kaman a'Shar, established Alhada as a permanent capitol, began the construction of a Grand Palace, and made the city of Gedom tributary. The Kaliphate now holds sway over all of the tribes of the Great Desert except for the Kazir in the north, the Yemites and the wild hillfolk of the Shuq.
GOVERNMENT: The title of Kaliph is hereditary since the time of Ha'addin-Shar, its bearer the supreme ruler of the tribes of the south (and self-proclaimed lord over all of the peoples of the Great Desert, though the Kazir remain defiant). As hereditary chieftain of the tribe of Shamir, the Kaliph is Sheik of Sheiks, as well. The other sheiks rule their own people in the Kaliph's name and at his pleasure. There are no votes of council or popular assent required. Those who refuse to submit to the Kaliph's will are subject to immediate execution without trial. What is theirs may be taken away at His slightest whim. Wealth and position may be granted to any He sees fit to bestow them upon just as easily.Sharaaz' greatest asset is the very desert waste over which the Kaliph rules. The nomad tribes alone know the secret of surviving and prospering in such an environment. They alone know its resources and are able to exploit them. In the matter of desert warfare, Sharaaz is supreme, rivaled only by Kesh in the days of that kingdom's glory. Her camel-mounted raiders are able to travel where no other armies can go, strike quickly and retreat to the safety of the sands. Sharaazi horse cavalry are superb, swift and well disciplined. As well as being their greatest asset, the nomadic nature of the people of Sharaaz is their greatest vulnerability. Alhada is the only permanent habitation, and it is, for the most part, a city of tents. Advanced industries are few. Fortunately, the tribes are able to relocate at a moment's notice without disturbing their cultural institutions ... Sharaaz must trade for iron for the production of weapons and armor, or acquire them outright either through trade or raiding. The kingdom cannot build ships or fortifications. Agriculture is non-existent. Goat and camel herding provide the basics of life.
CHALLENGES: Sharaaz must expand by conquest or increase trade in order to grow in power. Otherwise, she will remain a nation of nomadic desert herdsfolk. Conquest of her city dwelling neighbors in Huran or Thyrenia would require overwhelming more advanced military forces and fortifications and keeping the populace subdued. It would also require adapting to a more civilized and sedentary existance. Remaining independent should be easy enough - merely fend off any kingdom foolish enough to attack ... Increased trade with the seafaring Alays (distantly related to the desert-dwellers themselves) would be benficial. But, Sharaaz will have to develop such a relationship by providing goods the Alays deem valuable.