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All of the following has been gleaned from relics and records found by Rhodopian explorers in its former territory, or from interviews with the few survivors of the republic in Smyadovo. It is the basis of a report submitted both to Smolyan and the WCRB, as well.
The Islamic Republic of Gerlovo was a fairly short-lived state established after Doomsday in what was once Northeastern Bulgaria. Its was destroyed by rampaging and pillaging troops from the former Soviet Union in December of 1987, that later moved to Rhodope and Vidin.
This area was first settled in the times of the Ancient Greeks, by the Thracians, though it had held Neolithic cultures long before that. Conquered by first Alexander and his Macedonians, and then the Romans, it became part of the Byzantine Empire after the split of the Roman Empire. Various so-called barbarian groups invaded the region as well, such as the Gothic invasions during the 3rd Century, where the Romans suffered a massive defeat and the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Abrittus before forcing them out of Roman Territory, though none of these barbarians would manage to hold ground. Following the first movement of early Bulgarians to the area in the 5th Century AD with the permission of the Byzantine Empire, and especially after the year 700 or so when the Bulgar Kingdom to the east collapsed, it became a source of much contention between them and the Byzantines, being fought over many times. During this era, the region of Gerlovo was a centre of cultural and religious activity, especially the city of Shumen and its environs.
In 1388, forces from the Ottoman Empire, having defeated both the Bulgarians and the Byzantines, secured the region. The Crusade of 1444 would devastate the area, prompting the movement of several major settlements. Throughout the next few centuries, it would be attacked several times by the Russian Empire, successfully holding them off each time, until its eventual capture in 1878. In that same time period, much of the local population converted to the Muslim religions, and a large number of Turks moved into the region. At the same time, it was one of the centers of the Bulgarian National Revival, which in turned helped lead to the establishment of the Principality of Bulgaria in 1878 and the survival of the Bulgarian culture. It largely escaped damage in both World Wars as well.
The nation of Bulgaria was crippled by nuclear strikes on the following cities:
- Burgas, a major city and the largest port in Bulgaria, along with a minor naval base.
- Plovdiv,the second largest city in Bulgaria and a center of heavy industry.
- Rousse, the location of the only Danube bridge along the Romania-Bulgaria border and the largest port along the river in this region.
- Sofia, the capital.
- Varna, the headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy, a major port and city, and a minor soviet naval base.
- Yambol, destroyed in a strike on the nearby large air base.
It was also effected by the strikes on Edirne in Turkey, Thessaloniki in Greece, and the cities of Bucharest and Constanta in Romania.
In the Beginning
Being in a more mountainous area of Bulgaria, as well as a fair distance from any nuclear detonation, the region of Gerlovo initially fared better than most. While no government officials from the communist government managed to reach the region, a semblance of order was maintained in the region, largely, as it turned out, due to the Muslim and Turkish population, and, of all things, the Alians Order, long persecuted by the government.
These groups, while not an overall majority in the region, did hold the majority in several areas. Through their religious unity, which while weakened by the communist government was still intact to some degree, these areas were also better able to weather the chaos in the months following the blasts.
Eventually, the communist officials in the area began to lose control. As things spiraled downhill in several areas, and refugees began to appear, the Muslim population, led by the few Imams and Alians in the region, moved a hastily-formed militia into the areas sliding into chaos. This they managed to achieve by June of 1984, despite resistance from both the communist officials and their forces, as well as a fair number of the people in general. In this, they established their headquarters in the city of Targovishte.
This done, they were left with a major quandary over what to do next. After much arguing, and prayers, they decided to declare a new republic, on at least a temporary basis. They would, however, unlike other survivor-nations in Bulgaria, not declare themselves its successor.
Wanting to signify their control of the state, and having heard of similar ideas being put into place in the outside world before the blasts, it was decided to call the new republic an "Islamic Republic," though they did not go nearly so far as any such nations in the Middle East - Christians were to receive no punishments for having that faith, or pressure to convert. Those professing no religion, however, were forced to choose one way or the other.
Of course, all this did not go over very well. However, the number of Muslims and Turks, along with those very willing to go along with it for the sake of stability, outnumbered these opponents greatly, so little occurred.
Beginning of the End
Slowly but surely, the island of stability began to expand. By 1986, it had expanded enough to encompass the city of Shumen, as well as the city of Razgrad, having saved both from the gangs that had been found fighting inside of their streets.
However, despite the large increase in the numbers of the Muslim and Turkish populations, it was still a government built on a house of cards. About the only positive development had been that no matter the disagreement between the ruling Muslims and everyone else was that the communists had failed them - no real trouble was expected, or even occurred, in that quarter.
The remainder of the population, however, continued to pose problems, doing things such as shootings, bombings, and the like. In March of 1987, however, things came to a head - rebels assassinated the President of the Republic. His replacement, a hardline member of the Alians, began to change the neutral policies of his predecessor, in the direction of the Middle Eastern states, specifically Iran.
Obviously, this sparked the violence into open rebellion. Neither side could really get an advantage over the other. Amidst this chaos, the military received intelligence from refugees, fleeing from the northeast, that an army was on its way. However, neither they, nor the rebels, put much stock into this, believing the refugees to be exaggerating or lying in an attempt to get more for themselves.
Arrival of the End
Of course, the refugees were soon proved to be correct: that June, an army, largely wearing the remnants of what appeared to be Soviet Army uniforms but also a smattering of ones from the Romanian military, arrived at Razgrad. Finding a real government - something they had apparently not seen until that point - there, they were surprised. Taking prisoner a number of the militia they encountered in the outskirts of the city, they soon found out what kind of government it actually was.
With this revelation, the leaders of this army, horrified to find such a state, quickly unleashed their troops upon the city. By July, the entire city, and the surrounding countryside, had been looted, with the few survivors take as quasi-slaves.
Using torture on the few survivors of the militia from their looting, they learned about the other large city in the Republic, Shumen, and of the capital. The leader of the army, deciding that the larger city would be a better first target, left the area to head for that city early that July.
Of course, the government and the rebels both heard about this. Deciding that this was a larger threat than they were to each other, the two sides joined their forces together and took up defensive positions near Shumen. All that can be said about this, according to interviews conducted in June of 2011, is that the Soviet forces won the battle, and preceded to utterly destroy Shumen.
Following this, they moved to attack Targovishte. Having had time to prepare, the government here had managed to fortify the city, to an extent. As a result, when the Soviets arrived there that September, they could not just ransack, pillage, loot, and burn it like the others. They had to actually besiege it.
So, they began to attack the city, entering it, and slowly but surely started to secure it. At the same time, in order to feed the troops while doing this, they were unleashed upon the countryside, where they destroyed most everything in all directions that they could get their hands on.
It is currently, as of June of 2011, unknown how the battles in the city went, but the final result is definite - the defenders lost, and were slaughtered. At this time, a glimmer of hope did appear, however - in the final firefights for control of the city, a stray grenade landed near the commanders of the army, scouting the last holdouts to look good in victory. Both the commander and his deputies were killed. Within hours, the last holdouts would be taken out. This is known to have been in December of 1987, though the exact date is unknown.
Following this, the commanders of the individual units preceded to have a conference amongst themselves. However, they could not agree on anything, and things rapidly escalated into violence between the two factions - one wanting to continue to pillage and loot, establishing themselves as warlords, and the other, smaller faction, to "resurrect the Soviet Union."
In this conflict, the latter faction came out on the losing side, with most of their commanders dying. The surviving commander from this faction fled with his followers westward, near the river.
The other faction went southwest, looting and burning their way.
Both sides lost a lot of good soldiers in this, severely weakening them.
In the chaos they did miss one thing, however - the town of Smyadovo, and its immediate environs, had avoided destruction, though they did get refugees - the few hurt, scared, and traumatized individuals that managed to escape the Soviets. Some Soviets left behind were eventually encountered as well, but they were either imprisoned or killed.
Smyadovo managed to survive as a small farming community, of about a thousand people, though the surrounding countryside was so damaged, and they so weak, that they could do little more than survive.
On June 17th, 2011, a party of Rhodopian explorers from the Rhodope outpost of Nesebar wandered into the settlement. Initially, the reaction of the town was hostile, but after finding out that the soldiers spoke Bulgarian, not Russian or Ukrainian, they were allowed inside the town. From this, they began to interview the residents, and to explain their story, comparing notes. A detachment began, after hearing some of their stories, to head out in the the destroyed region, to hunt both for leftover Soviets, and things to add details to the interviews, which will be added to this at a later date.
The current Mayor, Sevi Sevev, has joined the town up with the government, eager for aid.
The Islamic Republic was headed by a President, appointed by the legislative body, and a Prime Minister, appointed by the first President, pending elections. Due to the situation, these were never held.
It is unknown who first led the republic, though in all likelihood it was a minor, underground Muslim preacher of some sort or another.
The last President, who replaced the extremist once the Soviets appeared, was Nikolay Svinarov, appointed by the last Prime Minister, Peter Karageorgiev. Both likely died at the government headquarters inside of Targovishte, though it is unknown as to what their exact fate was, in the end. It is assumed to not have been a pleasant end, if the actions of these soldiers elsewhere inside of Bulgaria is a clue.
Considering its early destruction and how little was known about the region until recently, it is thought that no outside powers knew about the survival of this region at all. What little is known comes from rumors that reached Rhodope and Transylvania in the aftermath of its fall, and a few small eyewitness accounts gathered by Rhodopian exploration teams near Smyadovo.
Primarily, the military of the Gerlovo government consisted of its militias. Based from the original forces used to restore order, they were open to any, though much of their membership was composed of members from the Muslim and Turkish populations.
It was only at the end of the state, during the Soviet attack, that this changed to any great degree, when the rebels allied themselves with the militias that they had been fighting, temporarily operating under their commanders.
These forces were destroyed at the Battle of Zvegor, in the siege of Targovishte, and in the sack of Shumen. The few surviving stragglers from the Sack of Shumen that did not head towards Targovishte eventually formed the main body of the Smyadovo town militia.
Gerlovo, despite having several factories in its territory, was pretty weak economically. Between the early riots, and the fighting amongst themselves, it would have been pretty hard to be anything else.
It is believed that all of these factories and other industries was destroyed in the fighting with the Soviets - early indications are that the fighting in Targovishte was much like Stalingrad - but that is, as of yet, unconfirmed.
More will be added, and content filled out, as they are discovered.
Rhodope Army Intelligence